Who Is Homeland Security Watching? Off-the-grid Fertilizer Plant vs On-the-Grid Citizenry

by Pamela Powers Hannley

Last week was an outrageous news week for our country with the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday, the explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant on Wednesday, and the shoutout, manhunt, killing, and capture of the bomber brothers at the end of the week. Whew.

This Monday on MSNBC, Chris Hayes offered an interesting look back at these events. (Video link below.) During the week of the bombings, there was continuous coverage of the "terrorist attack" in Boston and continuous pundit chatter about terrorism, but relatively little coverage of the chemical plant explosion in West, Texas.

Apparently, workplace casualties caused by corporate neglect and lack of government oversight are not as sexy as pressure cooker bombers, even though, as Hayes pointed out, people are far more likely to be killed on the job than in a terror attack. Citing 2000-2010 data, Hayes reported that in that 10-year period, there were 3033 deaths from terrorist attacks, 60,394 workplace deaths, and 335,609 firearm deaths.

Given these statistics, it is ironic (and somewhat sad) to see what Congress has chosen to regulate. Not firearms and not workplace safety. They are working on further immigration regulations and further militarization of the border– just in case some of those Mexican laborers might be terrorists.

In a stunning omission of oversight, Hayes also reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)– the same group that found the two Boston bombers in a matter of days– didn't know the fertilizer plant in Texas existed! (Don't they know about Google Earth?)

Quoting Reuters, Hayes further reported that the plant had "1300 times the amount of amonium nitrate fertilizer that would normally alert DHS" and "100 times more than the Oklahoma City bombing."

So, who is DHS watching? Us. They're watching real people– not corporate people. 

Watch Chris Hayes here: Willfully off the Grid

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