9/11 Remembrance Day

16 years ago we belatedly recognized the Taliban as the enemy of truth, justice, and the American Way. The fact that they are an enemy is not in itself a reason for war. It’s the attack that justified and required retaliation. #fb

Pakistan and Hiding bin Laden

Does anyone seriously believe that the Pakistani government did not know Osama bin Laden was living – and living large – in their country? Please. Pakistan’s intelligence service is corrupt, but they are far from incompetent. At best they turned a blind eye to the U.S.’s most-wanted terrorist. But it’s far more likely parts of the ISI knowingly helped conceal bin Laden for years.

9/11 – Nine Years Later

Nine years ago I was working in my home office when the first tower was struck at the World Trade Center.  Glued to the television as the skyscraper, a monument to western civilization’s ingenuity crumbled, I understood, truly for the first time, the existential, exponential relationship between creation and destruction. 

More than anything, the Muslim terrorists who used jumbo jets, another hallmark of western society, to destroy our great and glorious structures exemplify the petty, self-indulgent pathology of spoiled children whose inability to create manifested itself through the only avenue they could master:  destruction.

There are those, of course, who sympathize with the misanthropes who killed over 3,000 Americans on 9/11/2001, as well as those who cheer the memory of their craven act of murder.  Still others long to follow in their footsteps as killers, wrongly believing in a religion they barely understand even as it incubates their xenophobia and hatred of the infidel.  That is, me, and, dear reader, very likely you as well.

The World Trade Center, the jumbo jets, and the date, 9-11, were all chosen as symbols that, once destroyed, would strike fear into the hearts of westerners in general and Americans in particular.  There is, the terrorists’ thinking went, no place that is safe from us.  This is true.

Western society is, unlike that of Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, and tellingly revealed in the recent film The Stoning of Soraya M., open, insecure, and therefore vulnerable.  This openness is based on our fundamental freedoms of association and religion and two basic assumptions:  that citizens are rational actors and essentially of the same democratic, Christian mindset. 

As much as anything else, 9/11 demonstrated that not all of these assumptions hold in our increasingly multicultural society. 

(It must be understood that western values are anathema to Muslim fundamentalists whose legalistic embrace of Sharia has evolved little if at all in the last 1300 years.  There should be no expectation that such people have any respect whatsoever for our systems of law and governance or our way of life.  Such would be entirely too optimistic even in the best of times, of which these are not.)

Instead of assuming that America will go on as she always has, let us consider 9/11 a symbol of the true nature of the world.  America has enemies who are small in number but determined and aggressive.  On the positive side, our military forces and defense apparatuses have our external security situation relatively well in hand.  Unfortunately, our energy dependency plays into the hands of Muslim terrorists.  Also, financial systems are in disarray because we have pursued ill-advised fiscal and social policies.  Similarly, our internal politics are highly polarized and personalized, facts that blind us to our essential homogeneity.  We are all Americans and we are all in the same boat, the biggest and best in the world, and our vessel is leaking like sieve.  It is time to bail together, before it is too late.

On this day, above all days, let us consider how to love our fellow Americans, to appreciate the many blessings God has bestowed upon this country, to reflect on ways we can improve our country’s financial and political health, and, most importantly, to act to preserve this nation so that our children and grandchildren live in a nation we will be proud to have left them.

This may mean compromising with liberals when you want to fight or vice versa.  The truth is that Americans have so much in common that it is foolish to let fringe political issues divide us.  Bearing in mind that the purpose of government is not to run our lives but to secure them, let’s move forward in unity on energy, education, and the economy, the three “E’s” that will make or break our country.

NYC Anti-Terror Funding Cut


Meanwhile, plans proceed for the creation of an Islamic mosque adjacent to WTC Ground Zero. Priorities, Mr. President?

The message it sends world-wide: "Blow up our buildings, then stick a mosque on the site – no problem."

Responding to Terrorism Requires a Tough Attitude, Long-Term Perspective

In the aftermath of the failed Christmas-day attempt to bring a Northwest Airlines flight down, David Broder says that 9/11 was a call to duty to President Bush and 12/25 could trigger the same response in President Obama and help him change his approach to dealing with terrorism. For the sake of Americans everywhere, let’s hope so.

The Christmas plot appears to have shaken Obama like nothing else that happened in his first year.

When he allowed the White House to quote his warning to his Cabinet colleagues that another “screw-up” like that could not be tolerated, he seemed to signal his benign leadership style had reached its limits.

Many have been looking for a similar shift of tone in his dealings with the dictators in Iran and North Korea and even in his tolerance for the politics-as-usual maneuverings of many Republicans and some Democrats in Congress.

Hopefully the president will have the courage to admit that his softer approach to dealing with terrorists was doomed to fail from the beginning. That’s not easy to do in American politics, so if he does take that nearly unprecedented step I hope that Republicans will rise above the temptation to dwell on “I told you so” and get down to the business of punching terrorists in the teeth.

One cannot fault the president too much over the latest incident. Yes, it’s his ultimately responsibility, but putting politics aside, what would another president have done differently in the absence of specific information?

Adbulmutallab’s name was one in about 550,000 of an intelligence database of people with suspected terrorist ties. There was not enough information about Abdulmutallab’s nexus to terrorism to get him onto a subset of the list where he would have been flagged in initial screening. An even stricter “no-fly” list contains about 3,400 names.

Likely nothing, though the intelligence services with direct access to information obviously erred by not giving appropriate credence to Adbulmutallab’s father’s warning about his son’s radicalization. Rather than dwell on this failure, it’s more important to move ahead with needed changes in our approach to border security.

First, there’s no reason for any of the 550,000 known associates of terrorists to be allowed into the United States. Harsh? Perhaps. Discriminatory, I certainly hope so. The fact is that these people, taken as a group, have nothing to offer America. Why would we allow them to travel here, ever?

Taking the next logical step, in the absence of special skills or capabilities, it’s a dubious proposition to allow any immigration to take place from countries that harbor and sponsor terrorism. That’s particularly true of young males, who have been documented to be the culprits behind most home-grown terrorist plots. The same is certainly true of foreign-born terrorists as well, particularly given women’s subservient role in the cultures that tend to breed terrorism.

Our screening process, in other words, needs to reflect the actual dangers in play, even when the necessary responses impact selected groups of individuals disproportionately. As unfair as that may seem, our standards are our own to determine and our immigration policy likewise.

One thing that should be immediately stopped are the “diversity visas” that the State Department is giving out to people from “countries that typically see low levels of immigration to the U.S.” While this isn’t necessarily a disqualifying attribute, it’s quite droll to note that on the list are “all four countries the U.S considers state sponsors of terror — Iran, Sudan, Cuba, and Syria — and 13 of the 14 nations that are coming under special monitoring from the Transportation Security Administration as founts of terrorism.” Seems obvious that these are the last places we want to be recruiting immigrants from in the absence of a rigorous screening process that includes criteria for terrorist ties and the applicant’s true value to America.

Some may quiver over such deliberate discrimination on the part of our government, but making choices about who can come to this country is, after all, one of the responsibilities immigration authorities must shoulder. More importantly, it’s vitally important that we do so in order to insulate ourselves from needless dangers that exist overseas. Such decisions are not easy to make; however, they are entirely legal and within the purview of the Constitution.

In his letter to the Houston Chronicle on this subject, Jim Proctor had this to say:

The values stated in our Declaration of Independence are vitally important to us as a free country. However, how this country responds to challenges to our independence and the liberties we have through our Constitution, is who we are today. What keeps this nation strong is not the documents in the National Archives but the lengths we are willing to go to defend the promises in them.

Indeed. As a forty-something year-old man, I admit to having some interest in how the religious/cultural war that’s being waged against us unfolds. But it’s far more important to me in terms of how it will impact my children and grandchildren than for myself. Our succeeding generations deserve to receive the best version of America that we can given them and that means one whose Constitution is still observed and whose national security has not been compromised.

This may require some unpleasantness, just as America’s Cold War with the Soviet Union did. For example, see Charles Krauthammer’s explanation of why Guantanamo should stay in business:

This is a fanatical religious sect dedicated to establishing the most oppressive medieval theocracy and therefore committed to unending war with America not just because it is infidel but because it represents modernity with its individual liberty, social equality (especially for women) and profound tolerance (religious, sexual, philosophical). You going to change that by evacuating Guantanamo?

The prison for captured terrorists at Guantanamo Bay is one of the least significant aspects of the War on Terror. The amount of resources devoted to this issue completely dwarfs its importance in the grand scheme of things and should be redirected to other, more important issues.

Understand that there is a mistaken idea that many, many Americans – and American leaders – hold, namely that if we stop doing things they don’t like and retreat to our borders that the terrorists abroad will leave us alone. But that naive world-view completely overlooks – deliberately, IMO – the fact that Islamic terrorism is and will continue to be directed at the United States as long as it exists.

The 12/25 attack was not the last of its kind and it’s foolish to believe it will be. We must react accordingly if we’re to leave an America our children deserve to inherit behind.

Is America Addressing Terrorism Correctly?

Barack Obama has admitted that the homeland security apparatus failed in the case of Nigerian terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He had no choice, really – nearly 300 people are still alive only because passengers aboard the flight took matters into their own hands. He went on to say that he wasn’t going to tolerate any finger-pointing – another over-the-top assertion he cannot back up short of having feds arrest me and a few thousand other bloggers. Goes to show where the thought process is heading, I think.

Unfortunately, the Abdulmutallab case isn’t going to be the last of its kind. Not by a long shot. As Abdulmutallab himself said, Islamic terrorists will keep coming and coming and coming until they are given sufficient incentive to stay in their homelands.

As with any motivational question there are two ways to make that happen: make home a more attractive place to be and make America more dangerous for terrorists. Unfortunately religious zealotry is what motivates Abdulmutallab and his ilk rather than poverty or any misbegotten sense of entitlement. These causes liberal Democrats made their own long ago. But Islamic terror doesn’t fit the pattern Dems call their plays from and no amount of foreign aid or glad-handing – read “carrot” – will bring an end to the new Islamic jihad.

The other mechanism for discouraging terrorism – the stick – probably won’t work either for the same reason. What many Americans, including too many of our national leaders, fail to fully understand is that these young men truly want to die in the service of their so-called prophet. Certainly some of the weaker ones can be scared away, but not all and, in my opinion, not even most. They will keep coming until an end is made of the war they’ve declared on western society, one way or the other.

Understanding this is essential to formulating a response. It becomes clear, therefore, that the Democrats have not accepted this unpleasant bit of reality when one looks at their policies. Trying KSM, et al, in civilian court is a mistake because it legitimizes the actions of mass murderers and puts our national security community on the defensive while achieving precisely nothing in terms of a carrot/stick to terrorists. Neither KSM nor Abdulmutallab deserve to plead their case in a public courtroom. Their war crimes preclude this right reserved for civilian offenders.

The Obama administration got it partially right by slapping travel restrictions on Nigerians, albeit too late, though I have to wonder if it will do any good. Yes, Nigeria is one hotbed of Islamic terror, but radical Muslims there have largely confined themselves to murdering their own countrymen until now. It’s still more likely that terrorists will come from Saudi, Yemen, or Pakistan, this incident notwithstanding. Meanwhile, the traveling public feels safer because they are forbidden to pee during the last hour of their flights.

Alejandro J. Beutel, the government liaison with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, makes a good point when he says that Americans can’t allow themselves to lose trust in their Muslim countrymen. The U.S. has a sizable Muslim population, the vast majority of whom are willing to obey our laws and behave as responsible members of society. We must keep that fact firmly in the back of our collective mind.

Nevertheless, such generosity must be a two-way street. Muslim Americans must recognize that their sons, brothers, cousins, and uncles are disproportionately engaged in treasonous, anti-American acts when compared to the population at large. It therefore stands to reason that Muslim Americans must be subjected to scrutiny in proportion to the probability of terrorism emanating from their sliver of society.

Beutel doesn’t believe this. Instead he defends Muslim hostility toward recent police investigations of domestic terrorists, including Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, the young man who attempted to blow up a skyscraper in Dallas last year, claiming that local community and religious leaders would have stopped Smadi if they hadn’t been “worried that they, too, would become subjects of an investigation”.

Perhaps, though it’s speculative to say the least to claim either that Smadi could have been turned from his purpose or that any local leader would have answered the call even in a perfect circumstance. In the final analysis, Smadi did commit the act of terrorism he is accused of and no one save the FBI did anything to stop him.

Sarah Palin today identified the elephant in the room that the White House and other Democrats have been tiptoeing around as if hoping it would go away. It won’t.

We are at war with radical Islamic extremists and treating this threat as a law enforcement issue is dangerous for our nation’s security. That’s what happened in the 1990s and we saw the result on September 11, 2001. This is a war on terror not an “overseas contingency operation.” Acts of terrorism are just that, not “man caused disasters.” The system did not work.

There is a very serious downside to treating them as criminals: terrorists invoke their “right” to remain silent and stop talking. Terrorists don’t tell us where they were trained, what they were trained in, who they were trained by, and who they were trained with. Giving foreign-born, foreign-trained terrorists the right to remain silent does nothing to keep Americans safe from terrorist threats. It only gives our enemies access to courtrooms where they can publicly grandstand, and to defense attorneys who can manipulate the legal process to gain access to classified information.

Palin was been judged unworthy to be president in the last election cycle, but she’s reached the correct conclusion with regard to the right way to handle terrorism cases. We are in a war of attrition with a small but implacable enemy utterly unlike anything we’ve faced before and treating foreign enemies with respect they do not deserve only serves to lessen our security and long-term prospects for peace.

Moreover, it it long past time to move past political correctness and recognize that our national security depends on addressing foreign and domestic threats based on actual facts, without respect to whose feelings might be hurt. This means acknowledging the reality that most terrorist threats to this country originate from Islam and that our national counter-terrorism, immigration, and foreign relations policies must be shaped accordingly.

Surprised that Americans Want Answers from Terrorist? Don’t be.

Rasmussen reports that 58% of Americans polled want answers in a bad way from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the terrorist who tried to kill over 250 people on a Christmas Day Northwest Airlines flight by detonating plastic explosive he’d secreted in his underwear. By bad way I mean bad enough to waterboard the radical Muslim.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of U.S. voters say waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques should be used to gain information from the terrorist who attempted to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 30% oppose the use of such techniques.

The news that Americans with an opinion favor torturing this would-be murder to gain information about his support organization should dishearten the Obama administration, bent as it is on posturing as a new, cuddly, friendly America to our enemies overseas. Unfortunately though it’s likely that the president and his advisors do not care what Americans think on this issue. In their minds they are the ones who have all the answers, ample evidence to the contrary.

To whit, Christopher Hitchens recently lambasted the politically correct doggerel that passes for policy in the Transportation Security Administration, before closing with a chilling paragraph that should be required reading for every American:

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims. Our civil aviation is only the most psychologically frightening symbol of a plethora of potential targets. The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don’t get the point prefer to whine about "endless war," accidentally speaking the truth about something of which the attempted Christmas bombing over Michigan was only a foretaste. While we fumble with bureaucracy and euphemism, they are flying high.

Judging from the Rasmussen result, nearly 60% of us understand that Hitchens is absolutely correct. Mindless rules requiring verbal statements about the handling of luggage and banning the use of restrooms during the last hour of flight are nothing more than placebos meant to demonstrate to the brain-dead that the government is doing something.

The truth is another matter altogether, because the government bureaucracy’s hands are bound so tightly by the constraints of political correctness that the profiling of potential – and known – terrorists is verboten, despite the risks that lack of action poses to airline passengers.

When will Americans understand that profiling is a good thing and that relying on actual facts and probabilities as relates to attack vectors will keep us safer?

That safety is one of the few things that Americans actually want government to provide. The vast majority of us do not want welfare, health insurance, or financial investments run by the government. What we do want is to have our borders and our infrastructure protected against terrorists, foreign and domestic.

If that means that Muslims in this country are subject to additional scrutiny as a result of their religion, heritage, and/or country of origin, so be it. Similarly, if a known terrorist caught in the act has to be roughed up a little in order for law enforcement to gain information necessary to expose his/her network of cohorts, that’s what we want.