Tuesday, January 10, 2006

U.S. shouldn't have to do tap dance over bugging

U.S. shouldn't have to do tap dance over bugging

Mark Steyn remains one of my all-time favorite political commentators. The New Hampshire British-sounding guy has the gift of finding the nugget in the nuggies and polishing it into an eminently readable argument for survival of Western Civilization.

Here he takes on the DemocRats who would impeach President Bush for taking needful steps to ferret out terrorist snakes before they can strike.

Citing, just for example, the resounding intelligence success which stopped a plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge (why didn't they just buy it?), he makes the case for unfettering the hands of the man who we re-elected to protect us from another 9/11.

You do remember 9/11, don't you? I sure do. My clock radio woke me at 7am Pacific Time with continuous news about planes striking the Twin Towers in New York, the skyscrapers in flames, people trapped on the 83rd floor and jumping to their death from fear of being burned alive, the inevitable word that the towers had collapsed into rubble heaps . . . two . . . one . . . zero towers.

I didn't go to work that day. I sat at home alone, listening in horror to the newscasts on the radio. My Darling Daughter called me from San Diego around mid-day, and we talked in hushed voices about the calamity and what it might mean for our country. We had no idea how bad it could be.

Later, we all found out how bad it could be.

We were lucky, if you can call it that. About 3000 people lost their lives, including the people in the three buildings and the passengers in the four airplanes, plus all of the rescue workers caught in the collapse. It could have been worse. Initial estimates were that as many as 50,000 people could have been in the World Trade Center buildings. But it was too early in the day, about 9am Eastern Time, and the shopping crowds hadn't yet gathered in the ground-level malls.

Lucky. Yeah.

The following days gave us a glimpse of national solidarity, as Congress gathered on the Capital Steps to sing "America" and every one said "Never Forget!"

But some of us did forget.

There was a lot of talk about the failure of the intelligence services, and how they SHOULD have known about this threat, but they were forbidden to work together to process and share the information that was, as we now know, readily available.

We changed that. Changed the laws that enforced only the concept that International Terrorism was only a civil or criminal matter. We knew now that we were in a war, a knife-fight for national survival. Never forget.

But some of us did forget.

"Now we are engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."

It has nearly come down to that, as politicians play the game for political advantage . . . the Outs furious that they are no longer the Ins, and forgetting that it was their casual, Politically Correct vision of National Security brought us to this National Tragedy.

They no longer foam at the mouth in a vindictive desire to find the people who "did this to us", and to take any necessary measures to prevent a similar recurrence. Instead, they snap at the heels of the Big Dog whose job it is to, as the Constitution requires, insure that we can

. . . establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . .

That's how I feel about it.

Here's how Mark Steyn says it:

It's very hard to fight a terrorist war without intelligence. By definition, you can only win battles against terrorists pre-emptively -- that's to say, you find out what they're planning to do next Thursday and you stop it cold on Wednesday. Capturing them on Friday while you're still pulling your dead from the rubble is poor consolation. For example, in 1988, a British SAS unit shot dead three IRA members on the streets of Gibraltar. The United Kingdom's Joint Intelligence Committee were acting on information that the cell was planning to blow up the changing-of-the-guard ceremony on the Rock. The two men and a woman were subsequently found to be ''unarmed,'' and as a result various civil liberties groups protested and critical TV documentaries were made. But there was no dispute that they were IRA members and that they had bomb-making materials in their car. If the state cannot take action until its sworn enemy uses those materials, it had better be prepared to lose the war.

It shouldn't be necessary to point out the obvious. But, unmoored from reality, wafting happily into fantasy land safe in the hermetically sealed Democrat-media bubble, Sen. Barbara Boxer and her colleagues are apparently considering impeaching the president for eavesdropping on al Qaida calls made to U.S. phone numbers. Surely, even Karl Rove can't get that lucky.

By the way, I'd love to see the witness list for that trial: Muhammad al-Jihad testifying that a week before he blows up a Bali nightclub he always makes a perfectly innocent call to his cousin in Milwaukee to ask how the kids are; Abu Musad al-Zarqawi testifying that he only called Howard Dean to issue a formal complaint about congressional Democrats stealing his rationalizations. Etc.

The Democrats and the media want to upgrade every terrorist into O.J. Simpson, insulated by legalisms and entitled to his own dream team. (Their figleaf, the court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which previously denied not a single request, has turned down hundreds in the years since 9/11.) The practical effect of the Dems' approach is to extend the protections of the U.S. Constitution to any dodgy character anywhere on the planet who has a U.S. telephone number in his Rolodex. Indeed, given that perfectly ordinary cell phones can be used almost anywhere -- this week, I spoke to an American in London by dialing his Washington cell number -- if the Democrats have their way, all terrorist cells in Europe or Pakistan would have to do to put themselves beyond the reach of U.S. intelligence is get a New Jersey-based associate to place a bulk order for Verizon cell phones.

There's more, much more, and you really must read the entire article to appreciate the concise flavor of his proposition that, essentially, desperate times require desperate measures.

And this is, indeed, a desperate time.

There WAS a time when my greatest fear was that my son would be called upon to serve his country by taking up arms in its defense. I did it, in 1968-1970, and I would not wish that on anyone who was not whole-heartedly determined that this was The Right Thing To Do.

I did it, even though I was not "whole-heartedly determined". My family was frightened for my sake during the entire time, perhaps even more frightened than I was. Hard to imagine.

Now I'm even more worried. Even though my son, and my daughter's good husband, will probably NOT be conscripted to fight a war, we have all been so conscripted in a way that is even more fearful.

We don't have a country to fight. We don't even have an open enemy.

Instead we have a nest of vipers who lurk in the shadows, hide amongst honest folk, and only strike at the most vulnerable of us. They have no fear of death, and deprecate us because we love life.

We cannot raise an army, train and arm them, transport them on troop ships to their home country to defeat them in detail. They don't have a home country, they only have malice.

How do we find these pockets of enmity?

You have to know where to look.

How do you know where to look?

Aye, there's the rub. And the very few, the pitifully few weapons we have at our disposal are being taken from us by serpents at our breast. The people whom we chose to protects us in mass have chosen to protect their own vested interests by attacking our leaders.

Oh, go read Mark Steyn. He's much less melodramatic than I am. More convincing as well


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