Provided we all survive the "inevitable," indefensible terrorist attacks and suicide bombings predicted by Vice President Dick Cheney and FBI Director Robert Mueller, what will the American landscape look like?
Let's turn to Dwayne S. Anderson, a retired CIA analyst and Defense Department official who's now co-editor of the Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies.
In the current issue, Anderson asks: "Will, some day, athletic contests all be held in secure empty stadiums watched only by the television camera and with pay-per-view fans sitting securely at home?"
After all, he bluntly points out, potential terrorist attacks on Americans "are being considered from every angle: nuclear weapon, biological, chemical and radiological attacks on stadiums, airports, ports, government buildings, and even whole cities."
Anderson can recall the days when he first came to the Pentagon and "anyone could walk in from the street at any time, no identification required. I recall a Russian attache dropping by to see me on one occasion. He just parked and walked in, in uniform, and that was at the height of the Cold War."
Now a nation that many contend carelessly neglected its borders has been invaded by well, Anderson headlined his eye-opening article: "The Troll Under the Bridge."
"If you are wondering about the title here, it all started when I was very young, maybe four, and my father warned me about trolls, large ugly creatures that lurked unseen under bridges," he says. "They would leap out and grab unsuspecting people crossing those bridges and promptly make an entree out of them.
"I wondered why otherwise decent Norwegians exported these nasty creatures to the U.S., but, most of all, I was totally petrified about crossing even the smallest culvert. When a grandfather gave me a .22 rifle that was longer than I was, I felt some measure of safety. These trolls are a pretty good simile for the unseen and hideous terrors that lurk in wait for us."
Earlier this week, we asked the question, "Where's Sacajawea?"
"It's a mystery to me," says Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who has not only never received a Sacajawea "golden dollar" in change, he's never spotted one in circulation. Despite the fact that 1.4 billion of the coins were minted in 2000.
Beltway Beat readers from coast to coast are weighing in with some answers. While we wish we could print them all, let's allow C. Thomas, of West Pittston, Pa., to speak for our readers:
"The Sacajawea dollar failed because carrying loose change is an annoyance. Nobody wants another coin to weigh down their pants, or purse. The Treasury could put a Hooters Girl on the next dollar, and it would still fail."
The names of three U.S. military members killed in the Vietnam War were meticulously inscribed Tuesday (May 21) on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Expert stoneworkers from Denver-based Great Panes Glassworks have been flown to Washington to add the names to the black granite panels and change the status designations of existing names from missing in action to killed in action.
"The highly technical procedure requires meticulous work matching the stroke and depth of the surrounding names to within one-thousandth of an inch," says Alan Greilsamer, spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
The three dead soldiers added to the wall: U.S. Army Pfc. William E. Johnson Sr., of Cleveland; Army Sgt. Richard E. Toney, of Bogalusa, La.; and Army Pfc. Paul P. Zylko, of Passaic, N.J.
With the new inscriptions, the Memorial now displays the names of 58,229 men and women who were killed in Vietnam or remain missing in action.
As a result of last week's flap over the insertion of a photo of President Bush taken Sept. 11 into a Republican House-Senate dinner mailing, the National Republican Congressional Committee has banned all references to Bush, "the Bush administration," "the Bush agenda" and similar phrasing that includes "Bush" or "president."
As a result, says our source, a direct-mail fund-raising letter that would have called for "re-electing a GOP majority to help pass the Bush agenda" now must read, "to help pass the Republican agenda."
"Bush is not to be mentioned - at all," the source tells this column.
A high-ranking NRCC official reached Wednesday (May 22) confirmed the Bush ban, so as to be absolutely certain that the White House was not again caught off guard by any political mailing or similar release that might bear the Bush name.
Democrats last week said the photo distribution to NRCC donors showed that Republicans were using the war on terrorism for political gain. It "is nothing short of grotesque," charged Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Says our source: "To any normal politico, (the ban) would seem asinine, particularly during an election year where your party's greatest asset is the extremely popular president."
According to the source, it was not the often heavy-handed White House that initiated the new directive.
Instead, NRCC chief John Hishta dictated the policy, "and even ordered the trashing of a previously scheduled mailing" at considerable cost, said the source.
The NRCC official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, denied Wednesday that mailings had been trashed, rather just "put on hold," he said.
"Time to dust off those 49-star flags again?" asks one Environmental Protection Agency official, reading his invitation to an EPA National Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month event scheduled for next week. The event will focus on the effect that "a future sovereign Hawaiian nation" will have on how water resources are managed.
ALL BUT SUNK
The congressman whose district borders the Venice, Fla., flight school that helped train the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackers says Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is "obstructing" the dismantling of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., along with a long list of other congressmen, are calling on Daschle to move on House legislation that immediately would begin disassembling the INS.
"There's a time to obstruct and a time to lead," says Foley. "Maybe Sen. Daschle should buy a new watch if he can't figure out what time it is."
The House request, in writing, comes one day after an internal INS report said the agency routinely allowed foreign students into the country with little to no scrutiny, including hijacker Mohamed Atta, who came to America at least three times and trained at the Venice flight school.
"This report simply confirms what I've been saying for years - the INS is about as salvageable as the Titanic," says Foley.