Terrorism alert level: Spicy, with some yogurt sauce

A couple of years ago, I worked on a project that had me flying to LA on a weekly basis. I flew Southwest Airlines, and I had it down to a science: I would check in online exactly 24 hours before my flight (securing a spot in the coveted “A” group), then I would drive to the Oakland airport the next day, go through security and show up at the gate – usually – no more than five minutes before boarding.

One day, however, the website rejected my attempt to check in, and so did the kiosk at the airport. I had to go to an agent at the counter, who informed me that I was flagged because “someone with a similar name” was on the terrorist watch list. Noting my raised eyebrows, she helpfully added, “Don’t worry, it’s just your last name.”

For those who don’t know, my last name is Smith. To this day I believe that this itself was the act of terrorism – inconveniencing every Smith attempting to travel.

Now, apparently, the US Terrorist Watch List has grown to nearly a million names, which either means we’re all goin’ to Gitmo, or the list is almost completely useless.

There is an upside. The hysteria responsible for inflating the list is something the average person can exploit to address problems they might be having with friends or loved ones, like this guy did.

Seriously though, the super-sized list and shenanigans like that Swedish dude’s can’t be making things easy for the folks at Homeland Security. So how, you might ask, are they cutting through all the noise and nonsense?

Falafel. That’s right. Those clever FBI agents figure that if you follow the falafel trail, you’ll find the terrorists.

Brilliant! I feel safer already.