Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.
"Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only
serve the goals of al Qaeda," according to Deputy National Security
Adviser John Brennan.
Is Brennan's comment right? Is it appropriate?
Background reading here.
John F. McManus, president of The John Birch Society, said:
Does anyone think that "politically motivated criticism" is something new? Or that "unfounded fear-mongering" has just been invented?
Deputy National Security Advisor Brennan may think that such criticism and fear-mongering serve the goals of al Qaeda. History shows that they serve the goals of the administration in power. It has long been a despicable policy to scare the public into supporting questionable actions. For example, constant references to Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction" gave George Bush a green light to invade Iraq. Yet there were no such weapons.
As for current statements possibly serving the goals of al Qaeda, should we not wonder if al Qaeda still exists? U.S. forces in Afghanistan aren't fighting al Qaeda; they're fighting the Taliban. Constant references to al Qaeda, blared whenever anything related to terrorism occurs, serve the interests of the Obama administration as it continues the seemingly endless, but undeclared, war in Afghanistan.
Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, said:
In hearing this accusation coming from the White House, one us immediately struck by a sense of deja-vu: haven't we heard this sort of thing somewhere before?
Oh yes, now I recall: it was the Bush White House, and its neoconservative amen corner, who first suggested that any criticism of the President's policies would place one on the side of the terrorists. This is a classic case of becoming what one starts out by despising. It recalls the ending of George Orwell's "Animal Farm":
"No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, said:
Brennan is entirely correct; a deliberate al Qaeda strategy is to convince us to hurt ourselves. One way they do that is to get career politicians to enact measures which sound agressive, but that waste the resources of the intelligence community.
David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, said:
There is nothing wrong with having a robust public debate over how terrorist suspects captured here and abroad should be detained, interrogated, and prosecuted. The discourse since the airline attack in December, however, has been typical of so much of our political dialogue in that it has inflamed rather than informed public opinion. Critics of the Administration rail against the use of the criminal justice system in the Abdulmutallab case, but totally ignore the global public relations disaster caused by our prior policies of illegal interrogations combined with indefinite detention without trial. The Administration, on the other hand, has been defensive in attempting to explain why a more extended interrogation of Abdulmutallab was not warranted prior to the issuance of Miranda warnings. Ironically, it should be possible to forge a bipartisan consensus that such suspects (non-citizens who have committed criminal offenses in the United States) should be held and interrogated for an extended period for intelligence purposes prior to being placed in the criminal justice system for prosecution. As to whether hyperventilating about the terrorist threat is serving al Qaeda’s interests – consider this: one teenager with a crude, defective explosive device hidden in his underwear, who lit himself on fire but did not damage the airliner, has caused the United States (not to mention our European allies) to spend billions of dollars on additional airport security and diverted both the President and the Congress from the pressing economic challenges our nation faces. Terrorism is a serious threat that needs persistent vigilance, but we should not blow it out of proportion and inflict massive wounds on ourselves.