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Thu

10

May

2007

Breeding vs Weeding - The War On Terrorism
Thursday, 10 May 2007 11:25
by Stephen P. Pizzo

There are two administration claims I want everyone to take a fresh look at:
1) That terrorism is largely a military, not a law enforcement, challenge.
2) And that “if we don't fight them over there, we will have to fight them here at home.
One false and one is true.

These two claims emerged almost immediately in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Faced with the largest attack in history on the American homeland on their watch, Republicans quickly pointed the finger of blame on the Democrats. They claimed that the only reason the US homeland was vulnerable to such an attack was because Democrats had naively treated Islamic terrorism as a “law enforcement matter.”

Instead, Republicans posited, the only correct response to this new threat was swift and sure military action. Since then Republicans never miss an opportunity to mock any Democrat who tries to point out that domestic law enforcement is still our best defense against domestic terrorist attacks. And, that while military action is always an appropriate piece in any comprehensive national security equation, that local, state and federal law enforcers and courts are key to discovering and dismantling domestic terrorist threats.

Fast forward five years. US anti-terrorism military operations in both Iraq an Afghanistan are bogged down – at best – and moving backwards at worst. Osama bin-Laden has not been brought to justice,  “dead or alive.” The US military has been worn to a frazzle and the National Guard has been so gutted of men and equipment that it can no longer respond as intended to national emergencies.

Meanwhile things look a lot better on the law enforcement front. Time and again we learn of police and/or the FBI sweeping up would-be terrorists or terrorist cells before they can act. The latest was yesterday:

6 Men Arrested in a Terror Plot Against Fort Dix

CAMDEN, N.J., May 8 — Six Muslim men from New Jersey and Philadelphia were charged Tuesday with plotting to attack Fort Dix with automatic weapons and possibly even rocket-propelled grenades, vowing in taped conversations “to kill as many soldiers as possible,” federal authorities said. (Full)

So, how did they catch these would-be jihadists? Did some al-Qaida fighter captured in Iraq spill the beans under the administration's “enhanced interrogation techniques?” Nope. Did the CIA find documents in an al-Qaida bunker in Iraq or Afghanistan? Nope.
“The authorities first caught up with the men in January 2006, when personnel at a video store alerted the authorities after the suspects requested that he transfer onto a DVD a videotape of the group shouting about jihad as they fired assault weapons at a range in the Pocono Mountains.”

It was an alert US citizen, the video store owner, who contacted local police. They viewed the video, saw it for what it was, and called in the FBI – which by the way was entirely clueless that this cell even existed until then. The the FBI ran a 16-month undercover operation, leading to yesterday's arrests. A classic domestic law enforcement operation. Not a soldier in sight.

Of course the Bush administration is spinning yesterdays arrests as proof that their anti-terrorist strategy is working, Never mind that, were it not for a vigilant citizen they would have only learned of that cell after it had acted. But fear not, the administration would have had a response to that failure too. Then they would have spun a successful terrorist act as proof that they really did need the unfettered authority to wiretap without warrants – and of course for  “staying the course” in Iraq "so we don't have to fight them over here."

The irony is that within that canard is a profound truth – unfortunately lost on this administration. Fighting them here is where we need to fight them. And, as yesterday's arrests and a score of early arrests prove, we are doing just that. And, unlike Bush's ill-begotten war in Iraq, we are winning the war at home. We are winning the domestic war on terrorism, not with the military, not with warrantless warrantless (AKA, lawless) wiretapping – but with good old fashioned, Joe Friday, gumshoe law enforcement.

And what do we do with those charged with plotting terrorist attacks here? Do we lock them away in some secret prison, deny them access to an attorney, refuse to let them see or hear the evidence against them? No. We treat them like any other criminals – which after stripping away all the political la de da, is precisely what they are.

At the end of this screed I am posting a chart showing at least some of those arrested in the US and charged with plotting terrorist attacks on our soil. I don't know the last time this chart was updated, and I assume it is a partial, not full, listing. For example it does not reflect either arrests made last year in Lodi, California or yesterday's arrests in New Jersey. But the fact that it's incomplete only makes my argument that much stronger.

Now that Democrats have regained some degree of political power in Washington, one of them needs to become the John Murtha for law enforcement. Someone needs to stand up to the administration's now provably false choice – that we must “fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here.”

Of course Democrats and Republicans share a little problem in this regard. Really securing the American homeland with beefed up law enforcement inevitably raises the sticky issue of border security. While neither party would would give a fig about sealing the US border with Canada, both parties get downright squirrelly when it comes to securing our border with Mexico. It seems both parties are swinging at that pinada hoping to scoop up as many Hispanic votes as possible in 08.

But the undeniable fact is we can't have anything that even approaches a homeland secure from foriegn terrorists "coming here," without a system that allows local, state and federal law enforcement to know exactly who's coming and going across our borders.

The administration have it backwards. If the purpose is to make Americans as safe as possible in the face of a growing, worldwide, radical Islamic terrorist movement, then the first line of defense must be domestic law enforcement. The military option is only useful when used sparely, surgically and, in the rarest of circumstances, in retaliation.

At the top I noted that one of the two administration premises was, albeit unwittingly, correct – that we will “have to fight them here at home.” Precisely. We are fighting them here at home.

And we're clearly winning that war.

The shrinking number of proponents of the adminitration's military-first strategy will surely point out the flaw in this argument:

 "If we withdraw from Iraq the established order in the entire region will be threatened."

To which I say, so what? It's a lousy established order anyway. Why should Americans fight and die to retain it?

"Because Pizzo, you moron, that's where 60% of our oil comes from."

Exactly. It's always been about the oil, so I'm glad to see you folks on the right finally get that. Imagine how fast we could cure that little problem if we used just half the $100 billion a year we are wasting in Iraq to develop alternative sources of energy.

"Ah, but what about Israel? If we turn tail and run from Iraq it will only embolden the enemies of Israel."

Maybe. But if that should happen both Democratic and Republican administrations have repeatedly vowed to come to Israel's aid should she ever be threatened. On the other hand, Israel needs to stop doing the things it knows creates more enemies than Israel can defeat, even with US help. And the Palestinians need to get their collective head out of their ass.

But I diverge.

The whole "fighting terrorism" matter really boils down to a choice between “weeding or breeding.” The administration's military-first approach, rather than reducing the number of active Islamic terrorists overseas, has only bred more terrorists – lots more.

On the other hand, here at home, law enforcement has been diligently weeding the homeland of would be terrorists.

Now imagine how much more “homeland security” we'd have were we not wasting $9 billion a month chasing the latest graduates of the Jihad Academy around the rubble that was once Iraq.

Are there no Democrats in Congress who can make that argument?

From MILNET

The following table lists suspects arrested nationwide in the U.S. since 9/11.  All arrested are presumed innocent unless a conviction has been indicated, thus are alleged to have committed terrorist crimes.
   
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