Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inauguration: The Terrorists Have Already Won

The ridiculous "security" pronouncements on the inaugural continue to pile up. Today, the folks running the show--and wouldn't we like to know who's really in charge?--have said that two more downtown Metro stations will be closed for much of the day.

One, the Mount Vernon Square station, is the closest to the D.C. Convention Center, which will host eight out of the ten "official" inaugural parties to be attended by the Obamas and Bidens Tuesday night. Now that makes a lot of sense--tens of thousands of sharply dressed ball-goers will be flocking to the Convention Center in what are expected to be near-freezing temperatures, with no way to get there other than Metro, so why not close the nearest station? And how are the folks working at those parties supposed to get there?

Let's face it, the terrorists have already won, without doing a damn thing. They've turned our nation's biggest quadrennial celebration of our democracy into a security nightmare than only a brutal dictator could appreciate.

It all started four years ago, with the first post-9/11 inaugural. The Bush/Cheney crew used the terror threat as an excuse to turn that inaugural into a private party for Republicans--getting into the downtown security corridor was by invitation only.

This time around, while the Obamans have done away with the elitist invitation-only structure, they've nonetheless succumbed to a hysterical security mind-set that's threatens to turn much of official Washington into another Green Zone. Who knows, will blast walls be next?

We urge Obama to appoint someone--a reasonable civilian--to study the security situation, not only for the inaugural, but in general, with an eye toward recommendations for restoring our democracy and opening Washington back up to the people. A good place to begin would be with vehicle traffic around the White House, where restrictions instituted in the Clinton years have virtually split the western half of downtown D.C. from the eastern half.

We were in China when it celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Communist revolution, and not even that great repressive state engaged in the mind numbing security measures adopted in Washington these days.

Security is important. But so is the openness of democracy. Let there be more light.

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