Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Uncomfortable Security Uptick

As I got off the Metro train recently, I observed three young guys in navy blue BDUs carrying rifles watching people as they got off the train.

In the run-up to anticipated crowds before the Presidential Inaugural ceremony on January 20, I knew that there will be increased security throughout Washington, DC, and in public venues like our Metro transit system.

But seeing these guys with their rifles joking with each other, while watching people dash to and from the subway, just made me feel uneasy. I know they are doing their job -- and one half of me is glad that they're there, and the other half of me is uncomfortable. Am I alone in having divided feelings?

I've seen men like this before when I have traveled, particularly in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In those places, seeing men in uniforms carrying rifles is commonplace. But not here...

I guess I just long for the "good ol' days" of my childhood, when I remember that you could walk up the front steps of the U.S. Capitol building and go right into it, accompanying visitors from far away places and give a "tour by wandering." Or go fly a kite on the grounds of the Washington Monument in Springtime. Or, speaking of the Monument, bring coolers and portable grills to the Mall and have a grand picnic on the Fourth of July. (Nowadays, you have to go through a metal detector at designated bottlenecked "check points" and leave the grills and coolers at home.)

Alas, those carefree days are gone, left now with everyone looking over his shoulder for the next bad guy. And the DHS folks are taking credit for the fact that we haven't had another attack since Sept. 11, 2001. Perhaps so, but I feel now that with all the barriers, protections, and security in place, the bad guys won after all.

No comments: