Red Carpet For Terrorists

In the recent case of the man with drug-resistant tuberculosis, most of the news coverage revolved around his extreme narcissism. There is certainly plenty to say on the subject. Yes, both local and federal officials failed to react quickly enough, but in time they let him know he was a threat to other people and needed to be isolated. He still chose to get on an airplane and expose not only hundreds of strangers but his own wife to his potentially fatal condition. "Selfish" is definitely an appropriate description for his behavior. There is another angle to this story, though, and it has to do with border security.

Having flown back from Europe to Montreal rather than straight to the U.S., reportedly because he knew he was on the no-fly list, this gentleman entered the U.S. via rental car at Champlain, New York. By this point the wheels of government had turned enough to flag his passport in the immigration computers.

The screen the agent looked at, when this person attempted to enter the U.S. from Canada, said he had a contagious disease and should be detained and isolated. So what happened? Thinking to himself the man did not look sick, the agent welcomed the TB carrier home and wished him a nice day.

Keep in mind, this person was not trying to hide his identity. He wasn't sneaking across the border in darkness. The staff at the border checkpoint, whose job is to keep dangerous people out of the United States, knew exactly who he was and how they were supposed to react if he appeared. They just didn't do it.

If this is indicative of the motivation and training of the people who guard our borders, it doesn't really matter how much money we spend on fences or how many background checks we run on immigrants. We might as well roll out a red carpet for terrorists - especially terrorists who are carrying deadly viruses.

The U.S. managed to fight and win World War II in less than four years. It's been almost six years since 9/11 made clear that there are people who want to kill mass numbers of Americans. Why are our borders still not secured? If our government can't even stop a lawyer with TB when they know he is coming, it is only a matter of time before terrorists enter the country with a far more deadly disease.

Oh, I remember now. We're fighting them in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here. The Bush Administration is working hard to keep out foreigners who might threaten places like, say, Fort Dix or JFK Airport. Got it. I feel safer already.

UPDATE: Congress mad too.

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