This week was no exception. Those who debarked their morning commuter train on September 9 and walked into Union Station were greeted by phalanxes of police — and not just the typical, garden variety Amtrak cops, but the ones in khakis with their pistols strapped low on their thighs, positioned for quick action. Exiting the building, commuters had to pick their way through the bomb-sniffing dogs, their handlers, and roughly 10 police vehicles that filled up the brick-paved plaza flanking the replica of the Liberty Bell and the Columbus Monument.
It was definitely a show of force, but only a small foretaste of what was yet to come.
Before sundown the Capitol Police had turned the area surrounding Capitol Hill into a virtual fortress. Maryland Avenue, which runs from the American Indian Museum past the Botanical Gardens to a traffic circle devoted to a statute of James Garfield, was barricaded with concrete barriers. This was hardly necessary since there were enough police and emergency vehicles, not to mention a number of Army trucks, crammed into First Street from Independence Avenue to Constitution Avenue to preclude any traffic coming through. Police — not just the occasional foot patrol, but small groups of law-enforcement officers — were on every corner, in addition to those cruising around on bicycles. The only thing missing were the mounted police and armored personnel carriers. There was, however, the next best thing: SWAT-team looking guys with automatic weapons held firmly in both hands.
Everything was on hand in preparation for an assault. But by whom?
Were they mobilizing for an attack by jihadists bent on acts of terrorism? No, the State Department has decreed that the bad old days of the Bush Administration’s preoccupation with the Axis of Evil and the War on Terror are over.
Then it came to me.