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With Nation Safe, DHS Focuses On Summer Outing
WASHINGTON (CAP) - It's five years and counting for the Department of Homeland Security. And with the country secure from terrorist threats, officials said yesterday that they're taking a break from protecting Americas borders and airspace and turning their attention to planning the department's best summer outing to date.
"For the first four years, FEMA was in charge of planning, and the results were, umm, inadequate," admitted DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. "Every year, the portable bathrooms overflowed and most of the guests were stranded because the shuttle buses were so late picking them up - it was just ugly."
Although secret prisons, wiretapping and illegal-immigrant stings have made it relatively easy to secure the nation from al Qaeda, the real challenge for the federal government's largest agency has been organizing a successful summer outing for more than 185,000 employees. That's the question the 5,000-member social committee and 1,200-member games and activities subcommittee is poised to answer.
DHS has had so much downtime recently that they've found time to come up with a party theme for the first time in three years. Back in 2005, the outing's theme was The Axis Of Evil Evening Of Fun. Guests came dressed in the traditional outfits from countries like Iran, North Korea, and China.
Unfortunately, not everyone got the email announcing the theme and 834 guests were slaughtered and another 4,000 were seriously injured in what some mistook for an invasion on Sandy Point State Park beach near Washington.
This year, they're encouraging guests to come dressed in the colors of their favorite National Threat Level.
Organizers do still face some additional challenges, though, due to the difficulty of obtaining an accurate head count prior to the event. RSVPs from DHS officials working at the hundreds of secret locations around the world are few and far between.
"Here's a news flash: it's hard to find addresses for secret prisons," said Paula McHugh, the DHS social committee majority whip. "Even if they do get there and the person says they're coming, arranging transportation is a nightmare."
President Bush is also expected to attend this year's summer outing. Party organizers said for the fourth year in a row, Bush has begged them to send an invite to Osama bin Laden. Apparently he feels that one of these years the terror leader is going to slip up and send back his RSVP card. "Then we'll smoke 'em out for sure," Bush always says.
The committee hasn't nailed down a site for the party yet, but Congress has already approved the $1.7 million line item in the 2008 Congressional budget.