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Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Date: September 17, 2003
Byline: Ronnie Polaneczky

Column: Feds reportedly favor fencing historic sites BUT WHY STOP THERE... ?

MAY I SAY that I just don't get the nasty hub-bub about the latest security measures being discussed for Independence National Historical Park?

I, for one, am heartened that the Park Service is finally thinking big, big, big about keeping our treasured cradle of liberty safe, safe, safe for Omaha conventioneers!

Their idea to fence off Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, while connecting them via a tunnel under Chestnut Street, is downright edgy — though not as edgy as it would be to build a monument to African-American slaves on the site.

But maybe that's coming?

Still, I fear the fence-and-tunnel scheme won't go far enough to ensure the safety of the masses tromping about our historic sites.

So here's my own plan to keep our visitors protected. It's called "Security Concepts and Reconnaissance Efforts to Help Everyone Maneuver."

But I prefer its acronym: SCARE THEM.

The recommendations of SCARE THEM are far bolder than both the new measures the Park Service wants and the ones based on a security analysis of the historic area commissioned last winter by the Coalition to Free Chestnut Street.

You remember them, right? That renegade gang of ne'er-do-wells who fought like cats to get the 500 block of Chestnut Street reopened? They succeeded, in part, because the analysis showed that the dumb fencing and even dumber street closure gave only the illusion of safety, while providing bupkis.

Fencing, it said, could just as easily trap visitors in a bombed site as it could keep backpack-bomb-carrying terrorists out.

As for closing Chestnut to thwart car bombs, well, heck, a monster TNT bomb would topple Independence Hall if it were detonated on Walnut.

And none of the measures addressed the possibility of chemical and biological weapons, dirty bombs or shoulder-launched rockets and mortars.

So, clearly, the feds newest dumb safety plan will do the same thing all over: make us feel safe, for no good reason.

Well, to hell with quarter-measures! It's time for SCARE THEM. Here are its key points.


I say lose 'em. Instead, all visitors would tour the site nude, so that smuggled bombs and weaponry would be obvious. Except for those that are "hidden," which would be too small to cause much damage, anyway.

Car bombs

The only way to truly protect the historic site is to entirely surround it with a 20-foot-thick wall. Ugly, you bet. But safe? Damn straight. In fact, it'll be even safer if we roof the thing, too. We'll call it the Independence National Historical Biosphere. Soon, Mount Rushmore will want one.


If terrorists could pass themselves off before 9/11 as innocent flight-school students, then surely they will try to infiltrate the ranks of our park rangers. I say we just keep the guards in permanent lock-down, 24/7, right there at the site, forever. If they never visit the outside world, they can't bring anything back — like anthrax or smallpox.

I know what you're thinking: When it comes to tourists visiting our cherished historic area, won't SCARE THEM, well, scare them?

Well, yes. Especially the nude part.

But feeling fear is a small price to pay for feeling safe.

Just ask the Park Service.


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