We could tell you, but we'd have to kill you

June 06, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND


Historian Ron Chernow wrote that Lord Bicester, known for his pathological silence, spent 18 years in Parliament without making a single speech. Once, when a committee was deadlocked on an issue, he was asked whether he supported the measure or not.

"No," he growled. Then, after pondering his response for a second, he added, "Or have I said too much?"

What a wonderful Washington County director of homeland security he would have made. Not that the current article needs much help in that area.

Local resident Daniel Moeller thought it might be interesting to inspect a copy of the county's emergency evacuation plan, but when he asked to see a full copy, the county told him it wasn't for public consumption. They told him he could only see a portion of the plan.


A public evacuation plan that the public can't see.

OK, we'll let that hang there a minute and move on to the county's rationale, which is equally interesting. The entire plan is not available to the public, because it could be devastating to the county should it fall into "hostile" hands.

Oh boy, we have a secret so crucial to American security that it could lead to the downfall of the entire republic should it be exposed. Whatever could that secret be? Does the Lenco Bearcat have a flat tire? No one has stepped up to be a volunteer cowboy?

Come on, what is it? Tell us. We won't tell anyone else, we swear.

Do John Munson and Bill Wivell secretly hate each other? Is the landfill accepting air conditioners that haven't been fully drained of Freon? Are the county attorneys planning to give someone a surprise baby shower and they're afraid if the terrorists find out they'll spill the beans?

It's not fair. We want to know, and we're not going to be able to sleep until we find out.

J-Mun, for his part, is cool with the county attorney's decision to seal parts of the plan from public inspection.

"We can't let terrorism know what we're planning," he said. Apparently, he was serious.

Best to keep Osama guessing, I suppose. As we speak, he's probably sitting in a Pakistani cave, drumming his fingers on a map of Boonsboro going, "I wonder if they're going to evacuate by way of 40 or Alternate 40? Oh well, until we know for sure, I guess we can't divebomb any more of the Great Satan's national icons."

Besides, Munson said, if the evacuation plan got out, "what good would that do?"

Yeah, good point. I mean, to me, it is enough to know that Rand McNally HAS maps of the United States. I cannot imagine an instance when I should ever need to SEE one of the maps.

But, you might ask, how will I know where to go in an evacuation situation if we are not allowed to see the county plan? Signs. In the event of a disaster requiring evacuation, the county will put up "umpteen" signs.

Nice. I just hope they're not put up by the same road crew that brought us the Broadfording Bridge.

"Ethel? Do they have the signs up yet, Ethel?"


"Radiation's getting a little thick in here, Ethel, do you see any county trucks or anything?"


"It's been a week now, Ethel. My flesh is starting to slough off the bones here, think they'll be along by the weekend, Ethel?"


Let's face it, this is a county that took two years and 30 inches of rain to lift a drought moratorium. And five years to pass a zoning plan. Washington County's idea of rapid response is to plant a walnut under something that needs lifting.

And we're going to count on them to put up a million signs all over the county with a quickness? I can hear the road crew now.

"Hold on now, sonny, I can put this sign up fast, or I can put it up right."

Of course, maybe, just maybe, there really is some key, deadly secret to Washington County that we simply can't be trusted with. We're such children. And maybe there is some highly sensitive nerve center that could wipe out life as we know it in Hagerstown. But what could it be - besides the all-you-can-eat buffet at Ryan's, obviously.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached by e-mail at

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