There's a story that ran on the front page of the New York Times that at first glance may appear to be mundane in the extreme, but that on second thought ought to leave anybody in the Northeast gasping in disbelief.

It's a story that points out the obvious: that many buildings — one might say virtually all buildings — in the Northeast have oil tanks to keep the furnaces going.

These furnaces are what keep heart and brain of this country from turning to popsicles about half of the year. And since we don't burn dirty coal anymore, those furnaces are fired by oil.

Ask anybody around here. If you don't have somewhere around 1,000 gallons of oil for the winter, you simply must go to Florida. Otherwise, you're an ice cube.

So now the great minds have been thinking, "Hmmm, what happens if terrorists strike these buildings which have large quantities of oil stored in them? The fires could be worse than we expected."

City officials in New York are now running around trying to determine if some buildings installed extra tanks illegally, to run extra generators for summer brownouts, to run air conditioners as well as generate winter heat.

It strikes me that this is all beside the point.

Don't let the terrorists strike. That's the solution. Not telling people who live in the freezing East that the furnace oil that keeps you alive will kill you if terrorists strike.

If some overzealous building manager has turned his rooftop into a tank farm, bust him. But it's the terrorists who kill you. Cut to the chase. That's the problem. Forget the oil and go get the terrorists.

Otherwise, they win. Strike fear in the heart of city officials and America freezes.

That's My Word .

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