Friday, February 14, 2003

So my father called this morning to ask what life is like living under a terrorist alert. (He's been in Canada for the past couple of months, apparently feeling pretty safe. Who'd attack Canada, after all? I mean, besides me.)

I told him that I was deeply suspicious of the upgraded terror alert. After all, there's very little evidence as to exactly why we went to orange, and what little exists seems contradictory: The New York Times reports that that the move was based on intercepted communications showing (or suggesting) Al Qaeda to be in the "operational stages" of a major attack. But yesterday ABC.com had a story saying that the upgrade stemmed from information obtained from a captured member of Al Qaeda, who told officials that the group had developed a way to sneak explosives past security devices by hiding them in "shoes, suitcases, and laptops" and was planning a dirty bomb attack on "Washington, New York, or Florida." (So much for specificity.) But, according to ABC, this intelligence turned out to be "a product of his imagination;" the informant failed a lie-dectector test.

I know, I know, a terrorist who lies. Who would have thunk it?

My father took the reversal a little more seriously, and noted, "This is the kind of thing that happens when you torture people for information."

My (clearly inherited) skepticism about the government has thus far kept me from stocking up on duct tape and plastic. That, and I just can't get over the feeling that the powerful "duct tape lobby" is who's really behind the orange alert.

Still, one can read only so many ghost stories before you give in and get a nightlight. And yesterday I did admit to my husband that maybe, well, we should have some kind of "disaster kit." Not because I believe an attack is likely, but just in case, I dunno, there's an earthquake. My adorable husband nodded his head sagely.

And this morning, on the way back from the dog park, he went to the store. Upon his return, he proudly deposited the fruits of his labors, the core of our disaster preparedness kit: Two bottles of Evian.

"That's all they had left," he said.

Why am I not surprised?