Thursday, December 16, 2010
My First and Last Call to Homeland Security - Back to Square One
By Nicholas Contompasis
Late last night your trusty on-guard patriot, yours truly, posted a CNN report on this blog that al-Qaeda was planning attacks in the United States during our upcoming Christmas holiday. The reports were nonspecific and originating from Iraq.
With that said, this morning I received a phone call from my father who had just spent three days with my mother in Reno, Nevada at their timeshare way too close to those casinos where my mother continues to eat away at my inheritance.
So while my mother was busy paying the light bill at the Silver Legacy Casino my good frugal father was sipping coffee at the recreation center of the condo complex.
I’m going to retell the story the way I heard it from my dad over the phone this morning and you tell me what you think and what you would do?
While he was having coffee three Pakistani men came in and sat close to him at a big table. Being the chatty guy he is, he struck up a conversation with them and slowly gleaned some information in a casual sort of way.
He found out that the three of them, along with a woman who was not present, had just come in from Pakistan three days earlier and they were heading for Chicago this morning. They were in their twenties, clean shaven and somewhat friendly, except the third man who was almost thirty was silent through the twenty minute encounter. My father dominated the conversation with his age-old stories of India and China where he was attached with the Flying Tigers during World War Two. As the conversation ended the three men stood up and the two who spoke said good-by. As they filed out the last man, the one who didn’t speak through this entire episode, ominously commented, “World War Three has already started,” and walked out in an arrogant sort of way.
Needless to say, this comment got under my father’s skin, but he was good. He kept his mouth shut and let them exit without a comeback. At eighty-eight years of age he’s learned that it’s important not to piss people off, after all he might have to hurt somebody.
An hour after ending my conversation with my father this story was still rattling around in my head as it was for him. I debated with myself, should I call Homeland Security about this or was I overreacting? Well, I called and frankly I wish I hadn’t.
I started by calling the national hot line number in Washington D.C. that’s listed on their website. I told the operator who answered the phone that I would like to report a suspicious occurrence. She very quickly transferred me to a Los Angeles 911 operator. After two minutes of explaining that I’m in Northern California the 911 operator suggested that I call two other numbers which I did. The new numbers where in Denver and D.C. where I spoke with two other people who supposedly handled dispatch for western states. The Denver dispatcher was nice but I still wasn’t able to report the details of the incident. I was told that I would be contacted shortly, and I left my phone number and name and waited. I’m still waiting and it’s now been over eighteen hours.
The nice Denver operator suggested that in the future I should contact my local police if I hear or see of suspicious occurrences. My response to these instructions was swift and to the point. “Excuse me, we spend billions of dollars to set up Homeland Security and when I see or hear something we’re back to calling the local police, where the report could die on the vine, before being acted upon, God help us all,” I lamented. After getting off the phone I thought, is this as far as we’ve come in nine years? Frankly, next time I suspect anything I’m heading out for more ammo, screw Homeland Security.