Evidently Dana Milbank’s new beat at the Washington Post is homeland security-related snark:
Vendors at this week’s homeland security convention have the answer for any catastrophe. They will sell you body armor, vehicle barriers, nuclear detectors, manhole-cover locks, unmanned helicopters — and Kyrgyz yurts.
After Hurricane Katrina destroyed thousands of homes, the good people of Kyrgyzstan saw a business opportunity. So the embassy rented a booth at the Washington Convention Center and got Kyrgyz officials on the program as speakers and hosts of the Homeland and Global Security Summit. This allowed the embassy to erect a yurt, the traditional nomadic tent of Central Asia, and offer it as a housing solution for the Gulf Coast.
“After Katrina, people really need some temporary houses,” explained the Kyrgyz Embassy’s Saltanat Tashmatova, at the front door of the yurt. A brochure says the 14-foot-high structure, made from sheep’s wool and “cool in summer,” sells for $10,000 — but the floor model can be had for $7,000. Any sales yet? “We just started,” Tashmatova said with a shrug.
Give it time, Kyrgyzstan: There’s enough money for everybody in the homeland security budget. The host of the convention, Equity International, boasts that “more than $150 billion” will be spent this year to thwart terrorism and respond to natural disasters. Equity International promises attendees “valuable networking opportunities” and “the right contacts” to get a piece of the action.
I was down at the Convention Center on Tuesday for another event, and saw the yurt when I peeked into this conference for a few minutes. I’m doubtful that the idea will sell, but I have to admire the gusto and entrepreneurial spirit behind it.