Homeland Security

Bio-shield

In 2004, in the wake of anthrax attacks in New York and in Washington, the Congress passed and the president signed into law legislation that was purported to protect the American people from a biological attack. The law created a special reserve fund dedicated to developing medical “countermeasures” to treat symptoms that came from any biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear weapons that might be used by our enemies.

Now, many libertarians might harrumph that the government shouldn’t take such an active role in the biological marketplace, but the fact of the matter is that the risk of a biological attack is fairly low, so the marketplace can’t really support such medical countermeasures without government support. Also, one of the purposes of government as defined in our Constitution is to provide for the common defense, and well, this fits the bill.

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Rendition fallout

The American Psychological Association argued to the Texas licensing board that one of its members, James Mitchell, should be stripped of his license for “patently unethical behavior” in violation of the organization’s ethical guidelines, The Washington Post reports. In 2002, Mitchell, then retired from the Air Force, reportedly assisted the CIA’s interrogation of a terrorist detainee, Abu Zubaydah, in Thailand. Zubaydah was alleged to be a top al Qaeda official. A Senate report stated that interrogators including Mitchell used extreme measures to question Zubaydah, including waterboarding. Mitchell called the complaint libelous, distorted and inaccurate, though he added he was not permitted “to discuss any work that I may have done for the CIA.”

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The final blow

Born and raised in New Jersey, I’m hardened to the slights about my native state — what exit do you live at? and put-downs like that. But the home of two terrorists — alleged — in North Bergen, my own hometown, is too much. As if “The Sopranos” and “Jersey Shore” and “Real Housewives” weren’t enough to seal the distorted reputation, to eclipse the high-class Princeton image — now we have terrorists in North Bergen? As they’d say at the Institute For Advanced Learning, gimme a break.

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Better to be lucky than good?

The story of Faisal Shahzad's path from naturalized U.S. citizen living the American dream to terrorist attempting to kill an untold number of people in New York's Times Square is terrifying, a chilling reminder that not only does the enemy live among us, but we can't do much to stop attacks on the homeland no matter how hard we try.

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Mike Bloomberg joins the zombie jamboree

Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York, assured the public that there would be no racial profiling of Muslims or Arabs in New York City after the bombing attempt at Times Square. But unfortunately, the night before, when egged on by that panting puppy, Katie Couric, who suggested "a home-grown," suspicion, the mayor replied: "Home-grown, maybe a mentally deranged person or somebody with a political agenda that doesn't like the healthcare bill or something.” Tea Partier. Got it.

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The politics of terror

Both the Obama administration and its Republican critics are to blame in the latest effort to politicize national security.

We all learned last weekend on NBC's “Meet the Press” that White House counter-terror adviser John Brennan consulted Republicans in Congress on Christmas Day when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was Mirandized just 50 minutes after being taken into custody. Brennan claims no one asked him whether or not Abdulmutallab was given the right to remain silent and the members he named — Sen. Kit Bond (R) of Missouri and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) of Michigan — exploded. Hoekstra claims he will never speak to Brennan again unless the phone conversation is recorded, and both he and Bond are demanding that President Barack Obama fire Brennan.

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Dems and terror

The Obama administration, coming under fire for administering Miranda rights to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab just 50 minutes after questioning him about his attempted bombing on Christmas Day aboard a Northwest Airlines flight, has begun to rethink several key national security questions. This week we learned from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) that the White House is revisiting a plan to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to a prison in Thomson, Ill. And we know from key Democrats, though the Department of Justice continues to deny it, that the trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed won't be taking place in New York City after all.

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KSM rules NYC

The terrorists won by forcing cowardly politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, to undermine Attorney General Eric Holder’s plans to bring KSM to trial in lower Manhattan, within blocks of the scene of the crime, ground zero.

By so loudly opposing the New York City venue, of course, Republicans are outright hypocrites. For eight years, under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the policy of the United States was to bring terrorist suspects to trial in federal civilian court, most of them in New York. According to Human Rights Watch, they brought 119 such cases following Sept. 11, with a 91 percent conviction rate. And that included two high-profile security trials: shoe bomber Richard Reid in Boston and al Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui in Alexandria, Va.

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Citzenship, partisanship and common ground in the war on terror

In the two weeks since an alleged terrorist tried to detonate an explosive device on a flight bound for Detroit — in what has become known as the Christmas Day bombing attempt — there has been no shortage of finger-pointing in Washington about who is to blame for a very close call.

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Obama now owns another war

It took President Obama two weeks to step forward and deliver a decisive response to the foiled Christmas Day bombing and more than a year to own the war on terror. But yesterday, in remarks accepting full responsibility for the lapse in security that led to the Northwest Airlines incident, he did both.

In detailing just how his administration failed to integrate intelligence that showed the potential danger Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab posed to the United States, and how he has ordered reviews across the entire system to improve the sharing of such intelligence, Obama took an inadequate system over for good.

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