Homeland Security

Overheard Overhead

Consider the possibilities. If we were using spy satellites that can see inside buildings, as the administration proposes, we could already know what happened between Senator Craig and that undercover policeman in the airport restroom.

Putting aside the question of whether we really want to  see that, we might ask should we. Put a better way, do we want our government to be able to spy on its own countrymen and -women, with ultra-sensitive satellites overhead cameras watching our every move? 

Arab Terrorists Posing As Mexicans in U.S.

The lede sentence in the Washington Times article today entitled “Terrorists teaming with drug cartels” reads: “Islamic extremists embedded in the United States — posing as Hispanic nationals — are partnering with violent Mexican drug gangs to finance terror networks in the Middle East, according a Drug Enforcement Administration report.”

If it’s not enough to make your blood boil that the Bush administration, aware of this report, refuses to make border enforcement a number one priority, there’s more. The article goes on to report: “… an El Paso, Texas, law-enforcement report documents the influx of ‘approximately 20 Arab persons a week utilizing the Travis County Court in Austin to change their names and driver’s licenses from Arabic to Hispanic surnames.’”

Feeling Safer Yet?

In the spring of 2003, President Bush dismissed any questions about Osama bin Laden. “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and don’t care. It is not important, and it is not our priority.” He added: “I am not truly concerned about him.”

He should have been. In a stunning admission of failure, the Bush administration admitted this week that the war on terror is a total bust. “FUBAR,” as we used to say in college.

Terror Alert Raised to Pepto-Bismol Pink

Just a few hours ago, The Chicago Tribune reported that U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he has a “gut feeling” we face an increased chance of a terrorist attack this summer. The Tribune quoted Chertoff as saying, “I believe we are entering a period this summer of increased risk ...”  He went on to say, “Summertime seems to be appealing to [terrorists]. ... We worry that they are rebuilding their activities.”

Good heavens above, our whole national security effort has been reduced to a feeling in Chertoff’s tummy. Does this mean that the Department of Homeland Security is going to raise the terror threat to Pepto-Bismol pink?

Terrorists seem to like summertime. (Note to self: Scratch summertime as a favorite season of the year.)

Assimilation Fights Terrorism

Using American Muslims as an example, Armstrong Williams explains an incident like the Glasgow airport incident in Europe can be prevented by better incorporating cultures into society.


Secrecy: Lessons Unlearned

Big deal: In the name of openness, the CIA is releasing records of the abuses we already knew about in the 1970s. Well, if you really want openness, how about honesty about the abuses of the 21st century?

How about an honest accounting of the torture, secret prisons, domestic spying, eavesdropping, wiretapping and other invasions of privacy that have become routine business by our national intelligence community? They have only become public to the extent that they have been leaked.

Naive? I'm sure many will say so. After all, these folks will argue, the nation's vicious enemies do not play by such rules and the United States can only protect the way of life we hold so precious by matching brutality with brutality.

But what's naive is that argument.  

Competence, Common Sense and Washington's Approval Ratings

The woman with the sippy cup and the small child is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Transportation Security Administration released a video showing a TSA guard harassing a poor mother as she tried to go through the security line at the airport, child in one hand, sippy cup in the other.

The TSA was trying to make an example of the mother. Instead, it made an example of itself. They are a bunch of complete idiots.

Earlier this month, they let a guy — who had a rare form of highly contagious tuberculosis — go through aiport security and fly to Europe (this guy was on the watch list, by the way) because he didn’t seem to be sick.

And they routinely frisk and harass young mothers, great-grandfathers, senators and assorted other completely innocent people, all in the name of great security. Common sense is routinely sacrificed in the name of CYA at TSA. 

TB Andy and Amanda Reynolds: An Alarming Lack of Alarm

So embarrassing was the episode of a border guard allowing TB Andy to cross into the United States from Canada on his multinational infectious disease tour that you might think Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff would send a directive to all HSS employees to wake up and pay attention to detail. You’d be wrong if you thought such a thing.

Here’s a short story about my husband flying from Sacramento, Calif., to Washington, D.C., just two short days ago.

My husband John went to the airport kiosk Tuesday to print out his boarding pass and luggage tickets, but the boarding pass got stuck in the machine. Fortunately, he was able to make eye contact with an airline attendant, who offered assistance. The attendant, being a technical whiz, stuck his hand up the machine, dislodged the wadded-up boarding pass and handed it to John, who then proceeded to go through security checkpoint. 

Constitution Trumps War on Terror

Just when we need it — a blow for liberty!

Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, George Bush has acted as if he’s above the law — tapping phones without a court order, prying into credit card records without a search warrant, torturing prisoners of war — and, most egregiously, rounding up suspects and detaining them for years without charging them with any crime or putting them on trial.

Finally, a federal court has said: Enough’s enough.

Big Victory for President Bush in Europe Hidden By Failure on Immigration

The president went to Europe and won a big victory. Vladimir Putin has changed his mind and won’t aim missiles at Europe, and actually agreed to talk about cooperation on missile defense.

This is the kind of victory that made Ronald Reagan the icon that all Republicans love today. But for Bush it was largely hidden by the setback on the immigration bill.

It is hard to say whether this immigration bill will be revived. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says that it will be, but I wouldn’t count on it. The failure in the Senate is a failure of Senate Democratic leadership, but that is not how the majority leader spun it. He blamed President Bush, even though it was Reid’s decision to move forward on a cloture vote that few of the supporters thought was yet ripe.