The Debka Made ‘Em Do It

Driving down the West Side Highway heading back to Brooklyn on a sunny Saturday morning, I’m suddenly flagged down by one of dozens of policemen, and pulled over. I know what this is about. Earlier, NPR had broadcast that New York City was reacting to an “unspecified threat” of a dirty-bomb attack on the city, and were looking for a truck laden with radioactive material mentioned on the Internet.

My Subaru hardly fit the description, but being a law-abiding fellow, I was happy to oblige. The officers examined my license, registration — and insurance! They made me open the trunk, at which point I looked behind me and saw a vehicle also with a lone driver also being checked. Were we being profiled? Well, he was African American. But, we both had beards!

Still, I didn’t mind being stopped at a checkpoint on the West Side Highway, a little Ramallah moment in the middle of New York. What irked me, though, was the news that the “threat” that had necessitated this security clampdown emanated not from any serious intelligence quarter, but from Debka, an Israeli pseudo “intelligence” site that the Israeli security establishment will be the first to tell you should never be taken seriously. The site had reported that its monitors had picked up “chatter” on Islamist web sites to the effect that attacks would be carried out “by means of trucks loaded with radio-active material against America’s biggest city and financial nerve center.”

All I can say is that if our physical security is in the hands of people who’re making tactical decisions based on what they read on Debka, we are in serious, serious shit.

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21 Responses to The Debka Made ‘Em Do It

  1. Pingback: From the Dept. of Scaring Ourselves to Death « I’m Not Going to Do This Every Day

  2. Bernard Chazelle says:

    You mean, your web site is not radioactive enough to leave traces in your Subaru?

    I hope Debka informed City Hall about the alligators in the sewage system. They’re aware al Qaeda has an alligator training camp in Baluchistan, right?

  3. Mooser says:

    If you’ve got a beard, all you need to do is trim it into one of those pie-hole mullets the conservatives wear. Boom, instant rapport with all authourity figures!

  4. lolaone says:

    King George wants his subjects to be alert, and terrified at all times. With the crew he’s recruited, I;m surprised if their info doesn’t come from the Disney site. lolaone

  5. Louis Bonoff says:

    This tempest in an idiot’s teapot ( like the Intifada T-shirt fiasco) exemplifies that most people, are indeed, dumber than average. It also shows that there are more than a few who use up their 15 minutes of idiocy in a mere matter of seconds. Your’s, in curiosity, Lou B.

  6. janinsanfran says:

    At least they didn’t ask you “Do you know Osama bin Laden? — something some of our “border security” fools seem to think is a meaningful inquiry.

  7. Bernard Chazelle says:

    janinsanfran: at airports they always ask me if I have explosives. “Oh, gee, officer, so glad you asked! What a fool I am! Yes, I do have 50 lbs of TNT in my carry-on and. silly me, I had completely forgotten about it. Phew… Good thing you asked.”

    The big plan to catch bin Laden is this: Next time Osama lands in Orlando (yes, on his way to Disney World), they’ll ask him:

    “Are you Osama bin Laden”

    “Yes, I am”

    “No, I mean, are you ‘THE” Osama bin Laden”

    “Yes, I am ‘THE” Osama bin Laden”

    Then, gotcha!

    And Bush will go on tv to announce the prized catch.

    (They’ve got smart fellows over at DHS.)

  8. Earl Divoky says:

    My favorite question is, “Can you explain why your papers are in order?”

    Yeah, last month I read in the “reliable'” Debka about how U.S. foreign aid to Israel is going to be cut. I laughed and laughed.

  9. Tony says:

    I remember about two months after 9/11, in my native South Africa, a policeman saw a bearded Muslim man on a subway platform, and approached him, saying in the most polite Afrikaans, “Excuse me, sir, but are not perhaps Osama bin Laden?”

  10. Bernard Chazelle says:

    “Did you stop being a terrorist?” Yes or no.

  11. Islam says:

    Dear Tony:

    First time posting here:

    1. Did you take that photograph? You may need to be cautious not to be accused of photographing the police. This is a serious offense in some parts of the country — e.g., New Hampshire for sure. I do not know about NY State or NY.

    2. Was the search part of the new NYPD report:

    It is indeed my honor to be in touch with you. One of my best acquaintances is also called Tony, originally from South Africa.

  12. Bernard Chazelle says:


    Max Roach, greatest jazz drummer ever, has died.
    It’s absolutely impossible to overstate his status in the pantheon of American art. This country has produced fewer than 10 musicians of his caliber.

    For those of us who can’t imagine how drab and soulless life would be without jazz, it’s a very sad day.

    Roach was also a tireless crusader for civil rights.

    RIP, Max.

  13. Tony says:

    No, that photograph was from a news Web site, CBS, I think. Bernard, apropos Max Roach and the importance of jazz, feel free to write guest op ed on this whenver you like, let’s just say my own tastes are more infantile, hip-hop over be-bop (albeit smarter hip-hop, often more jazz-inflected)

  14. Bernard Chazelle says:

    Thanks for the offer, Tony. I’d love to take you up on it some time. (I’m also a huge fan of hip-hop! I literally can’t get enough of it.)

  15. Ed Carson says:

    Hey Tony, funny, this thing about beards.. Was leaving the States a few months ago, was stopped at the security check by an officer, looked at me (I have a beard), and then at my passport (lots of stamps of Arab countries in my passport) and ordered me rather rudely to step aside for a thorough ‘body’ frisk and hand baggage search. Another officer came and after he was done with the body frisk, started to go through my backpack, asked me what other items were in the bag, and finally looked me in the eye and asked me, “any bombs?” I must say I was shocked at the question. I never had imagined that I would have such an experience with my passport. I guess I should shave next time I’m traveling to our out of the U.S, though I suspect it was a combination of beard + passport stamps. Minor incident, everything went just fine, but it isn’t difficult to imagine this experience multiplied by a factor of 100 and haunting one almost every hour of every day, people stopping you at roadblocks and deciding whether or not you should be allowed through, with all sorts of humiliating procedures, etc., I can imagine what it’d make one feel like.

    As activists we can probably never REALLY feel what non-privileged and oppressed peoples feel on a daily basis, but if we can see their suffering, and if we can talk about it, and stand with them hand in hand against the oppressors, we can make a big difference. I was too young during the anti-apartheid movement to actually be able to participate, but I am — as a white/Anglo South African — grateful for all the activists around the world and in South Africa, who acted to end apartheid and who aspired for, and worked towards, making our country a just state for all its citizens — though there definitely is much to be done in the way of reversing the injustices carried out during the apartheid.

    Really enjoying going through your website.

    Eddie from PE (currently in M.E)

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