Michael Chertoff Parodied in The Onion


“While 9/11 has historically always fallen on 9/11, we as Americans need to be prepared for a wide range of dates,” Chertoff said during a White House press conference. “There’s a chance we could all find ourselves living in a post-6/10 world as early as next July. Unless, that is, we’re already living in a pre-2/14 world.”

“1/1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5,” Chertoff continued for nearly 45 minutes, “12/28, 12/29, 12/30, 12/31—these are all plausible and serious threats.”

Not very far from reality. Refuse to be terrorized, everyone.

Posted on January 14, 2009 at 12:04 PM31 Comments


HJohn January 14, 2009 12:25 PM

His ramblings were kind of annoying, to be quite frank, but part of his point was correct. If we expect someting on 9/11, the last date a terrorist will do something on is 9/11. Compartmentalizing ourselves like that leaves a vulnerability where they know we aren’t looking.

Of course, if he was implying that we should handle every day like it is the next 9/11, well that’s just dumb and I refuse.

Craig January 14, 2009 12:29 PM

Actually, no, it isn’t funny, precisely because it differs so little from the real Chertoff. It’s hard to effectively satirize someone who at any moment may come out with something not only dumber than you imagined, but dumber than you CAN imagine. Satires of George W. Bush have the same problem. Given the stunning ineptitude of our government’s so-called “anti-terrorism” and “Homeland Security” efforts, it isn’t even implausible that it would take until March to release an updated report that includes leap years.

Chris Finch January 14, 2009 12:34 PM

People win by not being terrorized, or by not allowing it to rule their life, exactly. Just live your life.

However, civil liberties are not that relevant when your body is blown to pieces.

Wes P January 14, 2009 12:49 PM

I’d just like to comment, my ’11/28′ is 2 weeks from tomorrow… but that’s neither here nor there.

KingSnake January 14, 2009 1:28 PM

Timothy McVeigh blew up OKC on the anniversary of Waco, so yeah, sometimes they do do things on anniversary’s.

Not that we should not protect against 11/9 …

HJohn January 14, 2009 1:37 PM

@HJohn: Wait, I forgot to read the word ‘parodied’ in the title of this post. Kindly excuse my earlier internet tomfoolery!

The above was NOT written by me, but it should have been! I really misread!

Thanks to the phony-HJohn for pointing that out!

Okay, I’ve gone way too long without a beer!

Mark R January 14, 2009 1:42 PM

Terrorists use calendars… so what we ought to do is protect the current date as a State Secret. I guess we will still have to make the day of the week public, so that people know whether they should show up at work.

Carlo Graziani January 14, 2009 2:27 PM

Chertoff never addressed the issue of whether any of those possible 9/11 dates would “Change America Forever” again!

Also, if We Will Never Forget 4/22 etc., can we be a little vague about remembering all the details of 9/11? I’m a little weary of “Let’s Roll” and all the WTC iconography…

Mulder January 14, 2009 2:34 PM

An even greater tragedy is that the media and our political class continue to refer to us as living in a “post-9/11 world”, even though that phrase means nothing. It’s used repeatedly to keep us ever-fearful of the possibility of terrorism, however remote the chances are, and to justify all sorts of illegal and immoral policies that clearly violate the Constitution.

Despite the continuous waste of many billions of dollars, these so-called “experts” at the laughably named Department of Homeland Security have not found a single terrorist in the U.S.; if they had, they’d be shouting to the heavens or anyone who will listen.

We don’t live in a post-9/11 world any more than we live in a post-July 4th world. Continuing to refer to our society this way invalidates our entire history as a free nation. We can’t allow ourselves to be defined by a single event in a history spanning more than 200 years.

RSaunders January 14, 2009 2:49 PM

We’ve never had a major attack on the US on any day other than 12/7 and 9/11. In the normal DHS methodology, we should not be worrying about other dates. They have been proven safe.

I am mostly OK on only thinking about attacks two days a year.

KingSnake January 14, 2009 4:43 PM

No other attacks on American soil? Other than Pancho Villa attacking Columbus, NM, or the English invading in 1812-1815 (they burned Washing, ya know) oh and probably several other days that also need to be Remembered …

Jason January 14, 2009 5:52 PM

Just curious – did we use pre- and post-pearl harbor back in the day? It was before my time…

Andrew January 14, 2009 8:27 PM

Jason: I think instead of “in this post-pearl harbor world”, they used expressions like “for the duration”. People acknowledged that things were and would be different, but the expression used back then implied an ending event.

Mulder: I was just having a conversation with a co-worker on the way to our cars. I was telling him that I don’t mind when citizens say “in a post 9-11 world”, but it infuriates me when a government official says it. Its OK for ordinary people to realize that the world is more dangerous than they had previously realized. For our government, they should have understood that one of their primary jobs is defense.

Cannonball Jones January 15, 2009 3:13 AM

It may be a parody but I think we need to take it very seriously. I mean if you were a terrorist, when would you attack? You’d do it when everyone was off their guard and remembering your last attack! The idea of the next 9/11 falling on a date other than 9/11 is utterly inconceivable…

Pinky January 15, 2009 6:49 AM

I’m praying Americans won’t forget the carnage and the pain from that attack on 9/11. Actually our Country was attacked the day the terrorist bombed the USS Cole. There are people in our Country that are acting like they have forgotten and voting like they have forgotten. It is such a shame. They are going to get what they asked for. Pinky

George January 15, 2009 10:41 AM

FDR famously reminded Americans that they have nothing to fear but fear itself. His successor Dubya turned that into “I have nothing to offer America but fear itself.” His Department of Homeland Security even provided a handy color-coded “Terror Alert Level” to keep us continually informed of how much fear we should be feeling at any given time.

Which raises the question that nobody seems to have had the courage to ask. The “Terror Alert Level” has never fallen below “yellow” since the day it was introduced. If the Global War On Terror has been as successful as Dubya and Cheney are now insisting, why hasn’t the “Terror Alert Level” reflected any such progress?

Maybe with the departure of Dubya and Cheney it will again become “patriotic” to “refuse to be terrorized.”

Steph January 15, 2009 5:58 PM

I love the Onion! Great piece. A good laugh!
I love my country. I am concerned about who watches the watchers as Mr. Schneier points out. Frankly, I am more concerned about unregulated Homeland Security contractors who operate as if they are above the law yet ride the taxpayer dime. Read how many abuses by Homeland Security contractors and Patriot Act Abuses are reported to the FBI. How many go unreported? How many are ignored?

Troy January 16, 2009 5:01 AM


From the linked wikipedia page…
2001 – Wikipedia, a free Wiki content encyclopedia, goes online.

With perfect hindsight, this was the obvious terrorist incident, spectactular in its subtlety, perfectly designed to bring down the capitalist system as workers everywhere spent days clicking on random links instead of working…

HJohn January 16, 2009 8:40 AM


Only the “January 14, 2009 12:25 PM” and “January 14, 2009 1:37 PM” were me.

In the “January 14, 2009 12:37 PM” post, someone light-heartedly, or so I thought at the time, pointed out that I mis-read something, which was a mistake on my part that I owned up to.

I’m not sure what the point of the “January 14, 2009 2:35 PM” post was, but that was not me.

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