Nearly two years ago, as a condition of her continued employment at a state university, my wife was asked by the State of Ohio Department of Homeland Security to check a box to indicate whether she was a member of al Qaeda or one of 132 other listed terrorist organizations. That’s right, buckaroos: the state of Ohio thought it was going to catch those darned terrorists by asking them to check a box on an application.
The state of Ohio is still at it in 2008 with no sign of stopping, continuing to ask the same question for those applying for a wide variety of jobs or contracts or funding in education, administration, health care and other services:
The Division of Homeland Security has been notified only twice of would-be employees admitting to terrorist activity.
“Both times, they were simple mistakes,” said Ian Ross, a strategic planner for Homeland Security who oversees the program. “They read the forms wrong.”
It’s not just the state of Ohio that has developed this excellent strategy for catching the terrorists. The U.S. State Department has its own tricky question on a visa application for visiting foreigners:
My favorite bit is at the bottom, where the State Department says “While a YES answer does not automatically signify ineligibility for a visa, if you answered YES you may be required to personally appear before a consular officer.” I can see the letter now:
U.S. Department of State
Second Assistant Attache in VISA Affairs
Mr. Osama bin Laden
Dear Mr. bin Laden,
Your application for a nonimmigrant visa for travel to the United States has been received for processing at our department. Before your application can move to the final approval stages, we would like to schedule an interview at our consular offices in order to discuss your indication that you seek to enter the United States to engage in terrorist activities. Please bring a complete list of items that you plan to bring with you in your travels, and indicate whether you plan to declare them when at U.S. Customs. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Second Attache etc. etc., Esq.