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April 22, 2013

HOWEY: Resolve in a post 9/11 world

NASHVILLE —

“Brian, we’re going to get hit again. It’s going to happen. I just hope when it happens, I’m not in Washington.”

This came from a high-ranking, former congressional staffer several years after the Sept. 11 attacks. And the worries of this staffer — someone I highly respect — went well beyond an improvised explosive device packed with ball bearings that we twice witnessed on Monday, Patriot’s Day, at the Boston Marathon along with the ricin letters sent to a President Obama and a U.S. Senator (Note to idiots: All Congressional and White House mail goes through biological screening). The warning was more along the lines of a rogue nuke or a biological attack in the U.S. capital or a major population center.

It’s been a little less than 12 years now since we’ve taken a terror hit on the U.S. homeland. I like to remind the folks who viscerally castigate the federal government that since Sept. 11 this entity has kept America safer than what our expectations might have been on that day, when Hoosiers watched the carnage in New York and Washington and feared a similar fate for the Sears Tower in Chicago. Presidents Bush and Obama and Vice Presidents Cheney and Biden have shepherded a leadership culture that has kept airliners aloft and, until Monday, IEDs off shore.

Indeed, every time I walk into a Colts or Pacers or White Sox game, or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — the most populated annual sporting event on the planet — there is that thought, though not a fear, that if terrorists really wanted to strike fear in the hearts of America, the hit would come in the heartland.

Former Sen. Dick Lugar had conjured images of the “destruction of an American city in our lifetime” in the wake of the domestic terror at Oklahoma City, and even Indianapolis as a potential target. A radial area with Lucas Oil Stadium at the center would include, within a mile or two, the three stadiums, key fiber optics lines, two major east/west and north/south interstate highways, a university and medical research labs, at least one bunkered Internet hub (with 10-foot thick walls, I’m told) and one of the major insulin manufacturing sites in the world.

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