THE SPINE DECEMBER 25, 2006
The last time I was on the Chunnel, the 31-mile tunnel that crosses underwater between the Britain and France, it occurred to me that this is an ideal target for terrorists. No, not IRA terrorists or Basque terrorists. But, sorry, Muslim terrorists. And now, in a dispatch by Jason Burke I've not seen elsewhere, The Observer, a newspaper that is quite calm about Muslim terrorism, thank you, reported that the Chunnel is, in fact a target, maybe during the holidays. The information comes from U.S. intelligence services, via French intelligence agencies. As one terrorist expert is quoted as saying, "A successful attack on such an installation would be almost as spectacular as September 11." And if this one has been stopped, does that mean everyone is henceforth safe? Employees of the line, Burke tells us, struck this year becaue of what they felt were sloppy security arrangements.
You can't be sure about airplanes. You can't be sure about the Chunnel. Well, Captain Matthew Webb swam the English Channel in 1875 and Gertrude Ederle in 1926. 6,200 have tried since. I don't know how many have succeeded. But this is hardly a response to terror. There is, after all, the terror of sharks.