- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2002

The ex-profilers, shrinks and mealy mouthed professionals who terrorized the Washington region on television the past few weeks need several boxes of throat lozenges, if not a supply of brown paper bags to wear over their embarrassed faces.
They got most of it wrong, a few all of it wrong, starting with the white bogeyman who was feeding off the notoriety. The bogeyman was neither white nor all that informed from his vehicular residence, just a fruitcake who seemingly could not get arrested if he tried.
The irresponsibility of the talking heads was pronounced, and somewhat disingenuous. The rest of the country could be forgiven for thinking that Washington remained shuttered until the sniper and his sidekick were apprehended last Thursday morning.
The talking heads knew better, even from the safety of their television studios, if only because of the traffic tie-ups that resulted with each vehicular search. It was a white box truck. No, it was a white van with a ladder on the roof. That made the color white 0-for-3 in this case, if you are keeping score at home.
Washington did not shut down, contrary to the prevailing story line. A few pumped gas from a crouch position, just as a few curled up in the fetal position underneath their beds. The latter would have made a great shot on television, incidentally, if only someone had bothered to call a cable news outlet. Nothing stokes the ratings like an overstated climate of fear.
In fact, Washington held up fairly well through the ordeal, going about its workaday business in ho-hum fashion. This is not to suggest that area businesses felt no economic pinch from the sniper attacks, just that reports of Washington's yellow streak were greatly exaggerated.
It is easy to exaggerate, one of the oldest tricks in the trade. Interview 10 to find the one who registers the proper amount of hysteria, preferably with puddles of sweat running down the person's face.
One desperate talking head even rustled up the insights of New York's "Son of Sam," as if his warped view from the disco generation somehow could serve the public's cause today. That was one crazy evaluating the merits of another crazy, a dubious proposition. The talking head might as well have tried to interview the dog that instructed the Son of Sam to kill. Or sought Miss Cleo's expertise. The bottom of the journalistic barrel already was being scraped thin at that point.
It seems a guest appearance on television is an awful thing to turn down, even if the only wisdom you have to offer to the citizenry is to wear a bulletproof vest underneath camouflaged clothes. Others suggested a zig and a zag, the customary directions to Stephan Davis. It went without saying, perhaps for a reason, that the average Washingtonian stood a better chance of dying by a chicken bone than a sniper's bullet. The long odds did not fit the 24/7 drama.
No mea culpa has been dispensed by the guilty since the arrest of the two wackos, only a new version of the appropriateness of the death penalty.
Now is the time for death-penalty foes to put their high-minded reasonableness on display. They are so terribly evolved as human beings, wouldn't you say? As they put it, loud enough for the families of the victims to hear, an eye for an eye and the world goes blind.
Back in the real world, the Washington region might want to add an extra layer of emotional coating, considering its viability as a target among terrorists. At least one of the two crackpots was something of an al Qaeda wannabe, the curious details still emerging.
The craziness in these parts is not liable to end, not as long as Osama bin Laden and his virgin-seeking merchants of death are still breathing.
That probably is an unenlightened view around the touchy-feely fringe inclined to embrace the oh-so-impressive intellect of Phil Donahue and Michael Moore.
Unfortunately, against the 24/7 backdrop of talking ninnies, Washington remains high on the terror network's hit list, impossible to defend against every potential circumstance.
The two suspects, with the help of the know-nothing experts, demonstrated the power of a half-baked plan in the information age.
Next time and some kind of next time seems inevitable in Washington it will be nice if some restraint is exercised.
For the record, in case anyone missed it, Washington is still standing.

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