I think we can all agree that I do a lot of reading.  Nonfiction, fiction, mysteries, and classics, it doesn’t matter what, I read a lot of it.  But typically books don’t affect me tremendously on an emotional level.  Sure, I get excited about books, feel adrenaline pump during intense passages, feel sadness about unfortunate events, or get wrapped up in the lives of the characters, but for the most part my emotions do not manifest themselves outwardly.  I don’t cry when characters die or scream and shout when the heroes prevail.  And I don’t typically get frightened during horrifying episodes.  But that all changed Friday night as I read the last 100 pages of the latest Tom Clancy novel, “Against All Enemies.”  I cannot remember the last time I was so frightened that I had to force myself to read the pages.  Come on; this isn’t some Stephen King thriller or Danielle Steele horror novel!  This is Tom Clancy, king of the political thriller.

I’ve read all of the Tom Clancy novels so I know what to expect—Awful bad guys and righteous heroes, last-second victories, and the good guys winning.  This one though, really struck a chord and in a bad way.  You see, because Tom Clancy has an insane knack for predicting the future.  Don’t believe me?  It has happened on at least two occasions and probably more if I think hard about it.  Remember 9/11 and the killing of Bin Laden?  Clancy wrote about both of them long before either of them took place.

In 1994, Clancy wrote in “Debt of Honor” about a Japanese airline pilot who crashed his 747 into the U.S. Capitol building, eradicating a good portion of the U.S. Congress.  Eerily similar to the 9/11 attacks.

And just last year, in “Dead or Alive,” Clancy wrote about the special forces operation to locate and kill a character patterned after Osama Bin Laden.  While the mission was accomplished in a private residence outside of Las Vegas, the circumstances surrounding Bin Laden’s death (as much as we know about it) are seemingly parallel.

Which leads me to the denouement of the latest Clancy, involving coordinated attacks by Islamic jihadists on passenger jets flying out of numerous U.S. airports.  And oh yeah, in case I forgot to mention it, one of them was a flight out of our very own LAX.

Look, I know it’s fiction and I know it’s made up, but this is what bothers me… if Tom Clancy can think this up, why would we expect that terrorists, the people who really want to do these things (not just entertain audiences), wouldn’t also be able to think this stuff up?  Seriously, Tom Clancy has already shown that he can think like an actual terrorist… when will lightning strike again?  Will we see next week, next year, next decade the living-out of Clancy’s fantasies by terrorists?  Because if Tom Clancy can think this stuff up, so can the terrorists who are motivated by hatred and a desire to harm, not the need to sell books.

Let’s go back in time, say to 1984 and the publication of “The Hunt For Red October.”  You remember the Alec Baldwin movie about a rogue Russian captain who steals a nuclear submarine and heads towards the United States.  The book and movie had a happy ending… the captain just wanted to defect; he wasn’t heading west to park nuclear warheads off the coast of New York City.  But the book put the U.S. Government into a tizzy.  Not only were Clancy’s scenarios and techno-jargon incredibly accurate, but it also posed a question that the Defense Department had not considered.  What IF a Russian nuclear-submarine could run silently and launch missiles without discovery?

In 1984 the FBI and CIA got a wake-up call.  Times had changed and the rules had change also.  The bad guys didn’t play by the same rules anymore; they stopped wearing black bandanas and riding across the plains on horseback. 

Which leads me to the main point.  What is our government doing to protect us?  All we have seen are our government’s reactions.  Heightened security, TSA body scans, and random searches (but please, no profiling… God-forbid we insult someone or infringe on someone’s “rights!”)  If terrorists have people sitting around all day thinking about new ways to kill Americans and wreak havoc and Tom Clancy is sitting around all day doing the same, please please please PLEASE tell me that the U.S. Government has people doing the same thing.  PLEASE!!!!!

Because here I am getting ready to take a trip.  A flight out of LAX this week to the east coast, with a final destination to the heart of our country.  And during our country’s birthday no less.  Should I feel concern?  Absolutely.  Should I feel safe that our country has planned and continues to plan for every potential scenario of terror and aggression?  If not, then I have no reason to even leave the house.  I would have no right to take my family on a plane, on a train, on a boat, or even into the car.

I say this with the utmost of emotion, the tears streaming down my eyes.  Please, someone, just tell me that they have people sitting around all day thinking this stuff up… because if Tom Clancy can think it up and the terrorists can think it up, then our own government can think it up.  And then they can plan for how to protect us from it…

Twitter:  robcohen13