Homeland Security

Watered-Down Liberty

You know, democracy and the rule of law can be mighty inconvenient. If I were the members of the congressional intelligence committees I'd be outraged that the CIA decided I couldn't be trusted with its torture tapes. To say nothing of some judges. "Too much danger of leaks," says the CIA director, explaining that the video clearly showed some of the agency's waterboarders.

We can't have their covers blown. After all, then we would have some idea who should be punished for "just following orders." (By the way, don't you like that term, "waterboarding"? I can't get it out of my head that before the interrogators begin, they holler, "SURF'S UP!!!")

In fairness, we really should consider the argument that those who were on the receiving end of the abuse possessed information vital to the protection of the United States. Still, shouldn't we always remember what it is about the United States that we're protecting?

Did Democrats and Republicans Endorse Torture?

The reason a special prosecutor is needed in the torture tapes obstruction of justice case, and the reason there is private panic in many Democratic and Republican circles, is that it now appears that some prominent Democrats, along with some prominent Republicans, gave a private thumbs-up to torture in 2002.

Waterboarding is torture. Torture is a crime.  Looking at the various creative means of torture that have been publicly reported, the laws that were broken include the Geneva Convention, European law, the U.S. War Crimes Act, the domestic laws of probably a dozen countries at least, especially in Europe, and very possibly the Nuremberg rules.

Flashing back to 2001 and 2002, when torture was instituted and some Democrats and Republicans were briefed: That was the time when most senior Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the Iraq war and voting for the Patriot Act (including the
majority in the Congress who did not read the Patriot Act before voting for it).

Bordering on Ridiculous

There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) has plans, if he's the GOP presidential nominee, to balance his ticket with a prospective vice president who is an undocumented immigrant. I don't know where that one started.

However, if Tancredo did somehow become the Republican candidate, he'd be getting a huge boost from the Department of Homeland Security.

Dangerous Dysfunction in the House

This is getting embarrassing. Worse, it is getting dangerous.

First, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blunders the House into an international crisis by threatening to schedule a non-binding Sense of the House resolution regarding a massacre that occurred a century ago in place far, far away.

Don’t forget she did that for purely partisan politics, against the advice of her major foreign policy advisers, including Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), Dick Gephardt and almost every Democratic foreign policy professional of the last 40 years.

Americans Underestimate Terror Threat

Asked in the latest Gallup Poll what are the major problems facing America, an incredible 4 percent said terrorism. Ninety-six percent are living with their heads in the sand. Thirty-three percent cited Iraq, 22 percent mentioned some economic problem, 13 percent spoke of healthcare issues and 9 percent mentioned immigration.

With terror attacks on JFK airport, Ft. Dix, the Sears Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge and a wide variety of domestic targets narrowly thwarted and a terror attack on 10 airplanes flying over the Atlantic averted by the barest of margins, it is incredible that so few voters appreciate the dangers we face.

We Should All Agree on Osama bin Laden

I have waited all week, through Sept. 11 remembrances and a major crossroads in the debate over the Iraq war, for someone to question why President Bush’s own national security adviser called Osama bin Laden “virtually impotent” last weekend on Fox News.

Frances Fragos Townsend said that while the government takes the tapes seriously, bin Laden’s messages were largely “threats and propaganda,” and that “this is about the best he can do. This is a man on a run, from a cave, who’s virtually impotent other than these tapes.”

9/11 Tragedy

Today we are reminded again of the Sept. 11 tragedy that happened six years ago. Over the years many people have tried to justify these dastardly acts of terrorists as being no different from those of serial killers. While there are many similarities between terrorists and serial killers, especially from the standpoint of the victims, there are vast differences in terms of why and how the acts are committed.

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.