EDITOR'S COLUMN: This terrorist threat goes too far

The federal government’s terrorist warnings left rationality behind last weekend with the announcement that Middle Eastern bad guys may be planning to don scuba gear and blow things up in Puget Sound. The FBI even checked out an Oak Harbor dive shop to see if they had inadvertently trained any prospective underwater terrorists.

Other terrorist warnings have made some sense. We could imagine terrorists unleashing nerve gas, biological weapons or nuclear weapons, crashing airplanes into buildings, blowing themselves up in shopping centers, or simply gunning down people on the sidewalk. All of these things can be done when you’re warm. But Arabs swimming in Puget Sound? They’ve got to be kidding.

Puget Sound is too cold for most sane people, let alone crazed terrorists from the Middle East. Water temperatures in Puget Sound range from 45 to 55 degrees. Does anyone know what the temperature was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday? It was 106 degrees. It’s unlikely anyone even swims in the Middle East unless some oil mogul has a refrigerated swimming pool. Otherwise, water temperatures must be 100-degrees plus. Nothing like a refreshing dip that lets you emerge from the Dead Sea salted and parboiled.

Now, it’s possible that terrorists thought underwater demolition would be a good way to cause havoc in Puget Sound. Maybe they took the in-house training and learned how to put on their wetsuits, fins, tanks and regulators. But their terrorist dreams no doubt ended with their first step into the icy waters of Puget Sound.

Let’s assume an Arab terrorist got his scuba training in Oak Harbor and then went to Keystone to give it a try. The air temperature was probably 60 degrees, half of what what he was used to back home, and then the water froze his toes together. These were toes raised in hot sand, not cold water. Two seconds later this Washington state-based terrorist was no doubt thinking up Plan B, which was to try to find something worth blowing up in Othello.

This isn’t to say that nobody swims in Puget Sound. It’s something a few of us natives enjoy doing as a rite of nativehood, like eating lutefisk. Swimming in cold water was a test of manhood in my youth, and we’d think nothing of diving into the frigid, snow-fed Skagit, Stillaguamish and Skykomish rivers, as well as Puget Sound. But that’s the way we were raised. Arab boys probably test their manhood by wading through furnace-hot sand dunes. I’d die in five minutes in their hot sand dunes, and they’d die in five minutes in my cold water.

Sorry, federal government, but your terrorist warnings have got to have some basis in believability. Scuba-diving Arabs in Puget Sound? I’ll belive that when Saudi Arabia freezes over.

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