Co-op boards on the front line!

Let's hear it for the co-op boards! Maureen Dowd finds one bright spot in the "war on terrorism," even as she slams those who tell us they're fighting it from Washington.

I have no faith in the ability of the U.S. government to keep out terrorists. But I have absolute faith in the ability of New York co-op boards to keep out terrorists.

The F.B.I. has warned apartment managers in New York that the evildoers might try to get a place, furnish it with explosives and blow up the building.

The enemy vermin can dupe the I.N.S. to get student visas, but wait until the East Side co-op president starts grilling them about where they went to school, what eating clubs they were in, which dancing class they attended, and whether they would bother the neighbors with any impolite crashes or unesthetic bangs. If Henry van der Luyden of the Ardsthorpe had interrogated Mohamed Atta, that creep would have been screaming for mercy.

She's somewhat less sanguine about the chances for success elsewhere, and won't bet that the Bushie administration can avoid a political setback.

Beyond the co-op boards, however, we're on our apocalyptic own.

Robert Mueller calls suicide attacks "inevitable." Dick Cheney says another terrorism episode is "not a matter of if, but when."

Donald Rumsfeld warns that the terrorists "inevitably will get their hands on" nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

All this fatalism from our leaders and we're still only on a yellow alert?!?!

There is a red alert going on now, but it's only in Karl Rove's office. (There is a severe risk of political damage to the Bush administration.)

That's why the Bushies are trying to terrify us. They desperately want to change the subject from the stunning lapses of their ostensibly expert foreign policy team — and they cynically want to make it sound as if nothing they do or don't do really matters in the end.