Sunday, January 10, 2010

Yes, Be Afraid — Be Very Afraid

Awesome story from IBD Editorials

War On Terror: Our top counterterrorism officials were "shocked" that an "individual" conducted an al-Qaida plot. They must have been asleep when the shoe bomber struck eight years ago. Are they still asleep?

White House counterterrorism czar John O. Brennan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the two highest-ranking officials charged with protecting America from terrorist attacks, say they failed to see the tree because they were busy looking at the forest.

The two held a joint White House briefing after the president's statement last Thursday. They were asked, "What was the most shocking, stunning thing that you believe came out of the reviews?"

Their answer is what was stunning.

Brennan said that "we had a strategic sense of sort of where they were going, but we didn't know they had progressed to the point of actually launching individuals here. And we have taken that lesson, and so now we're all on top of it."

According to Secretary Napolitano, "the tactic of using an individual to foment an attack, as opposed to a large conspiracy or a multiperson conspiracy such as we saw in 9/11 ... really emphasizes now the renewed importance on how different intelligence is integrated and analyzed, and threat streams are followed through."

Why is it so hard to envision a young, radicalized African Muslim like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab being willing and able to act alone? Shoe bomber Richard Reid did the same thing in December 2001 on American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami, failing to detonate explosive footwear in his case rather than underwear.

Reid's admitted accomplice, British-born Saajid Badat, at the time had even planned his own suicide bombing of a flight from Amsterdam to the U.S. — just like Abdulmutallab.

The late New York Times columnist and Nixon White House speechwriter William Safire called the 9/11 attacks the result of "a failure of imagination" on the part of the U.S.; Brennan on Thursday said the Christmas Day bombing "was a failure to connect and integrate and understand the intelligence we had."

But how much imagination or integration does it take to be on the lookout for terror plots identical to ones that took place before?

Like a real connect-the-dots game, almost anyone should have been able to figure out that another Reid-style, lone-operative plot was a real possibility.

The only conclusion to be reached is that this country's counterterrorism efforts have been switched to autopilot. After all, top officials from the president on down don't like to refer to our challenges against the world's jihadists as a "global war on terror."

They don't call it a war — and they obviously don't consider it to be a war, but rather a law enforcement issue. So why should anyone expect them — or those they supposedly manage and inspire — to act with an urgency that only a war can demand?

Replacing wartime zeal is the complacent attitude that ultimately says "the lawyers will handle this." Why else would we be absurdly setting the stage for a circuslike spectacle in New York City to try al-Qaida prisoners of war for their roles as 9/11 conspirators?

No doubt there are trial lawyers getting goose bumps at the thought of "the system working" and the most infamous enemies of the U.S. receiving justice the way everyone else does — in a courthouse within the jurisdiction of where their crimes took place.

But it will make the city a tempting target for more attacks. And it will set the stage for a propaganda bonanza for al-Qaida.

POWs, even ones in this new kind of war, aren't burglars or mafia gangsters; they will use all their "rights" and lawyerly stunts in service of their deadly ideology. A military court with limited rights is where they belong.

Legalism is also behind closing Guantanamo Bay and incomprehensibly sending terrorists back to terrorism hotbeds. A new Pentagon classified report is said to have found that one-fifth of released Gitmo detainees have returned to their old terrorist tricks.

If we were really on a war footing, there would be no need to revise our policy and stop sending detainees to Yemen, as the Obama administration announced last week. Indeed, we wouldn't be sending those POWs anywhere.

War is scary. Scarier still is a government in denial that evil people are waging war against our country and our civilization.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Obama attended an al-Qaida training camp during his Columbia days, does that make him a terrorists? Just wondering.