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So who says Islamic fanatics don’t celebrate Christmas? This week our friends in Al Qaeda sent Americans a little present in the form of a massive murderous attack on the U.S. consulate in Jidda that, after three hours of vicious gun play, left nine people dead. Happy Holidays.

Readers should excuse my cynicism about the brutal attack, but a certain amount of cynicism is perhaps in order when you consider that after two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and months of not very successful counter-insurgency warfare in the latter country, Al Qaeda remains entirely capable of launching the very kind of onslaught it just did. What does that tell us?

What it told President Bush is that “the terrorists are still on the move,” a sentiment which for once is unexceptionable. “They’re interested in affecting the will of free countries” [Presumably he means Saudi Arabia.] They want us to leave Saudi Arabia [That also is true, and why shouldn't they?] They want us to leave Iraq [right again, though it might be noted that only since the U.S. invasion of Iraq has Al Qaeda played any role in that country.] They want us to grow timid and weary in the face of their willingness to kill randomly and kill innocent people. [Yes, that's more or less the terrorist strategy]. And that’s why these elections in Iraq are very important. [Hello?]”

Well, what the attack in Jidda tells Mr. Bush is one thing, but what it should tell us (and him) is that the great war on terror has been pretty much of a flop. We should have known that from the Madrid bombing last spring, and we should certainly have known that from the protracted unpleasantness in Iraq itself, where the guerrilla insurgency (or, if you prefer, terrorism) continues to flourish, despite months of American casualties and combat. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, fresh from a cheery review of the smashing success of the “war against terrorism” in Iraq, now pronounces that we can probably pull U.S. troops out of Iraq in four years.

That’s after the troop increase the Pentagon has just called for, and it will depend on “the progress that Iraq’s civilian government and security forces made by then,” as the New York Times reports. So there’s no guarantee whatsoever that we will be able to withdraw in four years at all.

Meanwhile, the president of Pakistan informed Mr. Bush last week that his government has not the foggiest idea as to where the fabled Osama bin Laden might be. A few weeks ago, U.S. authorities were claiming they had the terrorist mastermind in their gunsights, but President Musharraf has a different tale. “He is alive,” he affirmed,“but more than that, where he is, no, it’ll be just a guess and it won’t have much basis.”

It’s not all his fault, he also says, because the United States just doesn’t have enough troops in Afghanistan to ferret Osama out of his den and because it’s hard to tell who is and who isn’t really part of Al Qaeda and because of all sorts of other reasons, most of which add up to one nightmarish conclusion: The “war on terror” to which Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld have committed this country is not really winnable at all.

It is not winnable because it is not a war in the conventional sense that Western nations have historically fought wars. Western wars, from the Middle Ages on, have consisted of fairly brief periods of conflict between discrete forces. After a bit, one side or the other is exhausted or defeated, and the war is over. That is not how gentlemen like Osama bin Laden and his friends fight “wars.”

War for them is a way of life, which is why you don’t hear much from them for long periods of time, when they suddenly blow up a couple of skyscrapers or hit a consulate or slaughter several dozen civilians. War—”jihad”—is not a deviation from the normal course of affairs for them. It is the normal course of affairs.

And it’s also a process that makes no distinction between civilian and combatant, which is why we call it “terrorist.” Hence, it’s impossible to protect against. If you protect the skyscrapers, they hit the commuter trains. If you cover the commuter trains, they hit the shopping malls.

Finally, it is a war we, the West and the United States, don’t have to fight at all, or at least one we didn’t have to fight before Mr. Bush and his advisers had the brilliant idea of dragging us into it. It ought to be obvious to everyone today that we will not and cannot win it. The question now should be, how do we get out of it?

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Terrorism 
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As President Bush’s lead in the polls started to wobble after his first debate with John Kerry last week, White House haggling over certain legislative proposals in Congress could deal the finishing blow to Mr. Bush’s hopes to remain president.

The legislation, known as H.R. 10,” concerns both immigration and national security.

H.R. 10 is the House leadership’s intelligence reform bill, which grew out of the report of the 9/11 Commission, released last summer. Parts of the bill reflect what the commission learned about how foreign terrorists use loopholes in our immigration laws (long supported by the Open Borders lobby) to wage terror against the country.

The legislation tries to close several of those loopholes.

The new restrictions curtail the acceptance of the consular ID cards that foreign countries issue to their nationals who are in this country illegally. The bill also sets federal standards for issuing drivers’ licenses that would make it harder for illegal aliens to get them.

Both measures would be major blows against foreign terrorists trying to sneak into or stay in this country.

And the bill would make deportation of illegal aliens easier, restricting judicial reviews of deportation proceedings and doing away with exempting aliens who claim they face torture if they return to their own countries.

In short, these are tough measures, intended to make the United States safer and controlling illegal immigration easier.

The White House opposed them.

As the Washington Times reported this week,

“The White House has told House Republicans that it wants them to remove provisions in their intelligence-overhaul bill that would crack down on illegal aliens’ obtaining drivers’ licenses, allow easier deportation and limit the use of foreign consular ID cards.” [House told to alter intelligence bill, By Stephen Dinan, October 4, 2004]

The Times quoted a congressional source as saying, ““They [the White House] have expressed desire to kill some of the immigration provisions and gut some others,” and Rosemary Jenks, with the immigration reform group Numbers USA, reports that “White House policy officials met with Republican staffers to urge them to remove the provisions, even though White House officials initially had signed off on those same provisions before the bill was introduced officially.”

The bill’s restrictions are strongly supported by citizens’ groups representing families of the victims of 9/11, and the leader of one such group says bluntly he will drop his support if the White House stripping effort succeeds.

For reasons that should be obvious, the White House doesn’t want its opposition to the bill’s provisions known.

Not only was the president’s amnesty proposal back in January a total bomb even before it was dropped on the House floor, but the White House opposition to reasonable, long needed and widely supported measures intended to protect the nation’s internal security and control illegal immigration would explode in the president’s face if the truth got out just before the election.

But some of the truth has already gotten out, as in the Times’ stories, and the White House may be backing off.

After a meeting this week, the House leadership supporting the measures made it clear they would stick by them. The Senate has already passed a companion bill, but without the provisions of the House bill.

The House leadership wanted to pass the bill before the election (so the Republicans could take credit for it—a political motivation, but a reasonable one), but it can’t take credit for legislation that the White House has stripped of its most important provisions.

Even Mr. Bush’s rival Sen. Kerry, hardly a pillar of iron on immigration himself, could ridicule Mr. “War on Terrorism” Bush gutting anti-terrorist language in his own party’s bill.

White House support for removing the measures aimed at illegal aliens is frightening enough, but what’s even more frightening is that there appeared to be no political reason for what the White House was trying to do.

Because the White House opposition was supposed to be secret, it could not have benefited Mr. Bush or his party with Hispanic voters.

And what is frightening about that is that it means the White House apparently really believes its own propaganda on immigration—or at least the propaganda the Open Borders crowd feeds it.

The measures the House leadership wants to enact are aimed at illegal immigration, but they are not really in the field of immigration law and policy so much as national security.

And in the wake of 9/11 and the report of the 9/11 Commission, there’s every good reason for the administration to support such measures—political reasons as well as their intrinsic merits.

The terrifying truth about this administration is that even when it has on its side both merit and political motivation to control illegal immigration and protect national security, it chooses to help the illegals instead of its own nation and people.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Immigration, Terrorism 
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In the unlikely event you might have considered taking seriously last week’s warnings by the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI that Al Qaeda is planning another terrorist attack on the United States, Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge was able to put you at your ease.

Don’t let a little terrorism spoil the Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Ridge urged .

“America’s job is to enjoy living in this great country and go out and have some fun,” he pronounced on CBS’s Early Show.

Meanwhile the seven Al Qaeda operatives whom he says are planning the attack are nowhere to be found, leading the director and the Attorney General to beg Americans to give them a tip. [FBI Seeks Tips on 7 Linked to Al Qaeda, By Susan Schmidt and John Mintz Washington Post May 27, 2004]

Actually, I have a tip for them.

I don’t know where the terrorists are, but I have an idea as to how they might get into the country if they’re not already here. If pregnant Mexican women can cross what we still merrily call our “borders”illegally and with impunity, I’ll bet trained Al Qaeda terrorists can.

For all anyone (including the FBI and Homeland Security) knows, the terrorists may be serving Big Macs in your neighborhood today.

Largely because of President Bush’s foolish amnesty proposal in January, illegal immigration has increased ever since. Aliens hope they can get inside the country to take advantage of what they hope will soon be law. The Border Patrol reports that detentions of illegals, which it uses to estimate how many aliens have actually entered the country, rose 25 percent in the six months before March 31, to a modest 535,000. That’s 535,000 illegals caught. The number that actually got through is much greater.

How many terrorists were among them? The Un-Magnificent Seven for whom the FBI is looking, or 7,000?

Perhaps we will find out this summer.

Then again, maybe the seven are already here, as some of them have a right to be under the immigration and naturalization laws that allowed them to come. Consider who they are.

Adnan G. Shukrijumah, a native of Saudi Arabia who, as the Washington Post reports Attorney General Ashcroft’s description, “has made repeated attempts to get back into the United States using false passports.” If Mr. Ashcroft knows that, why wasn’t this immigrant arrested for carrying the fake documents?

Aaifa Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman who holds a doctorate from M.I.T.,Amer El-Maati, a Canadian citizen born in Kuwait,” and Abderraouf Jdey, “a Canadian citizen born in Tunisia,” are others sought by the FBI who are not exactly home-grown terrorists.

As for the other three, it’s not clear if they have ever been in this country or not, let alone whether they might be here now.

As to why Mr. Ashcroft and Director Mueller think they are planning a terrorist attack, you probably don’t have to be James Bond to figure it out.

As the Attorney General remarked, “al Qaeda’s public statements indicate its intentions. Just after New Year’s Day, al Qaeda announced that plans for an attack on the United States were 70 percent complete.” After Madrid, they said the plans were 90 percent complete.

It was predictable at the time of the Madrid bombing (in fact I predicted it), if not before, that al Qaeda had every reason to plan a similar attack here. If one attack in Madrid could knock Spanish forces out of the war in Iraq, imagine what one in the United States just before the election could do.

Finally, it might be safer for everyone if the FBI didn’t try to locate the suspected terrorists or do much of anything about the threat.

Since they have arrested an innocent man, Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield, for involvement in the Madrid bombing, issued enough sinister insinuations about scientist Steven Hatfill’s supposed role in the 2001 anthrax attacks to lose him his job, harassed Atlanta security guard Richard Jewell for a 1996 Olympic Games bombing he didn’t commit and managed to kill the innocent wife and son of (also innocent) white separatist Randy Weaver in a 1992 sniper attack in Idaho, it might be a good idea if the FBI just went back to doing something harmless like chasing bank robbers.

Having launched two wars and conquered (sort of) two countries in the “war on terrorism,” the Bush administration now solemnly informs us what every schoolboy already knows—the terrorists are still out there (or, worse, maybe even in here), and are planning another attack.

Apparently unable to find much of anyone except innocent people, the FBI and the vast federal “internal security” labyrinth pleads for average citizens to help them out, while the government does nothing about the ever-escalating invasion and colonization of the country by illegal aliens.

And the best Mr. Ridge can tell us is, Go out and have some fun.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Immigration, Terrorism 
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With what may have been the single most effective act of terrorism in history, the forces of Al Qaeda have managed to knock out of the American-led coalition of their enemies one of its major (indeed, one of its few) European allies and shatter the delusions of victories the Bush administration loves to flaunt. What happened in Madrid in the past week may turn out to be a major turning point in Mr. Bush’s “war on terror”—and not a turn toward victory.

The first lesson of the Madrid bombing is that the war on terror is a colossal flop. In the last two years the United States has launched two full-scale wars, invaded and conquered two countries and constructed a vast new internal security apparatus at home that many see as a threat to civil liberties. Despite all of that, the terrorists remain capable of carrying out well-coordinated acts of mass terrorism in a country thousands of miles away from their home bases, murdering 200 people and injuring more than a thousand, and toppling a government to boot. You tell me: Who is winning the “war on terror,” and who is losing?

Secondly, the Madrid bombing, perhaps for the first time, shows the link between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi resistance to the American invasion. Under Saddam Hussein there was little if any substantive link, if only because the Islamic fundamentalism of Osama bin Laden and the secular authoritarianism of Saddam are as alien to each other as each is to the West. One of the great accomplishments of Mr. Bush’s war has been to drive these two antagonistic forces together, to the point that Al Qaeda now carries out a major terrorist attack against a country with which it has no natural quarrel except that it is allied with the United States in the Iraq war.

Thirdly, the bombing and its aftermath show just how shallow and ill-conceived the whole war on Iraq itself was. Spanish voters dumped the incumbent government in elections following the bombing because they want no part of that war, into which the government had dragged their country.

Having grotesquely over-estimated the easiness of victory in Iraq, both the United States and its allies now face the inevitable erosion of support that the continuing war there—and wherever else Islamic terrorists choose to take it—will bring. The result may well be the eventual total isolation of the United States as remaining allies decide that the kind of carnage and conflict a protracted occupation of Iraq and the “war against terrorism” brings is not worth the price.

Fourthly, the Madrid bombing not only shows that Al Qaeda remains capable of carrying out massive acts of terror but that it understands the political strategy that always controls any kind of deliberate violence, conventional or terrorist. The purpose of the bombing was not simply to blow up lots of people but to topple a government, weaken the enemy’s alliance, and demonstrate which side has more power.

And because we now know that Al Qaeda understands the political uses of terror and is not simply acting out of “madness” or “evil” as the president and his propagandists keep repeating, we have every reason to expect similar acts of terrorism in this country in the near future—before the election, and intended to topple the Bush administration just as they toppled the Spanish government.

Finally, what we ought to learn from the Madrid bombing is that the war on terrorism as Mr. Bush and his advisers have designed it not only has not been won but is not winnable at all. It is not possible for the government or any government to capture or kill every person willing and able to make and plant bombs capable of inflicting enormous damage and loss of life. Nor is it possible for the government to protect every conceivable target the terrorists may choose to strike. If you protect planes ands airports, they will attack trains and train stations. If you protect trains, they will attack shopping malls. If you protect shopping malls, they will attack bridges, office buildings, public parks, theaters. Protecting against that kind of terrorism is possible, if at all, only in a state like Orwell’s 1984.

The armchair warriors in the Bush administration and its friendly press are now muttering about Spain’s “appeasement” of terrorism for choosing to get out of an ill-conceived, unwanted and unnecessary war before any more horrors happen. But it’s not appeasement; it’s simply the belated realization that what has already happened in Madrid didn’t have to happen at all and would not have happened had the country and its government minded their own business. At least the Spaniards have learned something, at a bloody price. Americans should too.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Muslims, Terrorism 
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If you thought the capture of Saddam Hussein might help in the war on terrorism, you should think again. The terrorists in Iraq aren’t the real problem, according to Daniel Levitas writing in the New York Timesrecently. The real problem is right here in River City, and it’s not Muslims or Arabs or Iraqis. It’s the “Far Right.”

Ever since 9/11, there has been an almost compulsive effort on the part of the left to “link” the right of one kind or another to that atrocity in particular and to international terrorism in general, for the purpose of demonizing virtually any right-of-center activism, bringing it under federal and local police surveillance and perhaps eventually outlawing it altogether.

That’s precisely the direction Mr. Levitas is trying to drive.

Mr. Levitas, author of a recent book on “the militia movement and the radical right,” starts off with the tale of a chap named William Krar, who recently pled guilty to the very real crime of possessing a chemical weapon. Mr. Krar, he says, is “a right-wing extremist,” and for all I know he may be. Mr. Krar, it seems, possessed “neo-Nazi and antigovernment literature,” as well as a stockpile of illegal weapons, ammunitions and explosives.

No “isolated incident,” Mr. Levitas assures us. Why, “federal authorities served more than 150 subpoenas in the case, and are still searching for others who may have been involved.”Therefore, it must not be isolated.

They also rounded up Mr. Krar’s female companion and one of his buddies, a member of a “paramilitary group called the New Jersey Militia.”

From this and similar cases Mr. Levitas deduces that the “far right” in this country is out of control, reading “antigovernment literature”and who knows what else, and he demands that “Americans should question whether the Justice Department is making America’s far-right fanatics a serious priority.”[Our Enemies at Home, By Daniel Levitas, New York Times, December 13, 2003]

What he doesn’t tell us is that when Mr. Krar and his pals were arrested, local news sources quoted federal authorities as saying they “don’t believe Krar was planning to commit terrorism.” “I have no specifics of a plot,” the FBI special agent who made the arrest said.

Nor was there any further evidence of a plot. Mr. Krar was a gun manufacturer and arms dealer, and much of his arsenal and associations may have been related to his business, as federal agents acknowledged.

But in the No Isolated Incident Department, Mr. Levitas rounds up several other of the usual suspects: Eric Rudolph, accused of bombing abortion clinics and the 1996 Olympics, and a few others, one of whom actually seems to have murdered somebody and all of whom have “links to” or “associations with” “far-right” groups—“white supremacists,” “anti-abortion extremists,” and anti-Semites.

But nowhere does Mr. Levitas show that—or even consider the question of whether—these individuals are part of organized conspiracies to commit terrorism.

The issue is important because if they are simply lone nuts, having the Justice Department launch more intensive scrutiny of right-wing groups would do nothing to stop potential violence.

The fact is that not since the early 1980s has there been any serious terrorism from the “far right” in the United States, and none of the “incidents” in recent years involving violence by far-right individuals was the work of an organized group—unlike the violence routinely committed by such movements as animal rights nuts, eco-terrorists and Jewish nationalists.

There is every reason for police and the FBI to keep any group that advocates violence, let alone practices it, under investigation.

But what Mr. Levitas and a good many others like him are demanding has less to do with what such groups do than with what they think.

It’s not violent groups or groups that advocate or cultivate violence they want under surveillance.

It’s “America’s far-right fanatics.”

His standard is political pure and simple.

Most of the people he wants the Justice Department to make a “priority” may actually need to be under investigation, but the problem is that distinctions between violent types on the right and law-abiding right-wing or conservative dissenters get lost.

Professional witch hunting groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League don’t hesitate to “link” all of the above, and most law enforcement people don’t know the difference.

That, of course is exactly what the witch hunters want: To round up the usual suspects.

The truth is that the usual suspects have done very little that merits being rounded up or even investigated. But what some on the left really want is simply a crackdown against their political adversaries on the right.

With the new state powers the Bush administration already has and the hysteria about the “far right fringe” cranked up by people like Mr. Levitas, that may be starting to happen.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Government Surveillance, Terrorism 
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“Malvo’s Drawings Attack U.S. Racial Bias,” the Washington Post’slead Metro story informed those readers who bother with the local news last week. [By Serge F. Kovaleski, December 5, 2003]

“Racial bias” is the Post’s way of covering up the dirty little secret painfully emerging from the trial of Jamaican immigrant Lee Boyd Malvo, charged as one of the two Washington snipers who terrorized the region last year and murdered 10 people.

The secret is that the snipers—at least Malvo—were driven by anti-white racial hate. The shootings were hate crimes, even though not all of them were directed at white individuals.

The senior hate-sniper in the duo, John Allen Muhammad, has already been convicted and sentenced to death, and the same fate may await young Mr. Malvo.

But the truth cannot yet be told, at least fully and directly, because we wouldn’t want anyone to think non-whites might be filled with murderous hatred against white people, would we?

But the truth will out, and it started leaking last summer, when the Post buried an important part of it in a news story of July 25th.

A Maryland police officer at the jail where Malvo was held said “Malvo told him the reason the snipers went on their rampage was that ‘there were a lot of ghettoes in America. They were trying to clean it up. It didn’t make sense to me.’”

Another guard reported that “Malvo told him that one of the reasons for the shootings was because white people tried to hurt Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam.” Those little snippets never made it past page A10.

Last week even more of the truth seeped into the Post’s reportage of the trial. Drawings that Malvo completed in jail and presented by his lawyers remove any doubt of what drove him.

As the Post reported,

“One drawing depicts a naked black man hanging in a public square from chains around his wrists. Nearby, a slave takes orders from his master. A caption says: ‘THIS IS WAR. IT WILL GO ON AND ON UNTIL YOU ARE TOTALLY DESTROY, YOUR WHITE STATE OF MIND . . . HOLY WAR! JIHAD.’”

Another shows a Star of David, a conventional symbol of Jews and Judaism, in the crosshairs of a gun scope, with the caption, “Wanted Dead.” Yet another shows a white police officer also in the crosshairs with the captions “wanted Pig” and “Copy This Fascist Police,” and the edifying message,

“You and your house [Negroes?] are the same white [deleted] who jailed [?] me 400 years ago. Same man. There is no past. The past is never dead. It Ain’t even past. We will destroy you and your progeny.”

Another shows the White House in the crosshairs, while the Postmoans that Harvard University is also assailed: ‘They still teach that black people are not as intellectually made as whites.’”

Then there are his pictures of his heroes: Saddam Hussein (“The Protector”), Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Louis Farrakhan, and Osama bin Laden.

The Post readily acknowledges that the drawings and scribblings are “simmering with anti-American fervor against law enforcement,” and so they are. Other stories discuss Malvo’s “utopian vision” to use the $10 million the snipers tried to extort for their murders to “bring about a just system,” and the Post even drools about the learned Mr. Malvo’s allusions to “the Chinese philosophical work ‘I Ching’ and the writings of Socrates, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and Thomas Jefferson.”

Someone should tell the Post (or maybe Malvo, or maybe both) that the “I Ching” is not a philosophical work but a means of prophesying the future and that Socrates never wrote anything.

What the Post cannot bring itself to notice is what was really driving Malvo to commit murder.

The main theme of the collected wit and wisdom of Lee Boyd Malvo is hatred of whites for all the proper liberal reasons that the Post’s own editorial pages regurgitate every week—that whites mistreated blacks, enslaved them, discriminated against them and said that blacks aren’t up to snuff in IQ points.

Young Mr. Malvo just drew his own conclusions from the anti-white premises liberalism brews: Kill the pigs and their progeny—Exterminate whites.

Malvo’s lawyers are dragging out the drawings and writings to try to show that it was really the senior sniper, Muhammad, who was the evil genius behind the killings. They’re also parading the usual headshrinkers to testify about Malvo’s deprived childhood and the rest of the voodoo.

But whoever was the leader and whatever the inner mechanisms, there’s now no doubt that hatred of whites, scooped from the perverse pit of liberal and leftist clichés about “white racism,” drove the murders that slaughtered 10 people and terrorized the country.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Blacks, DC Sniper, Terrorism 
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Most Americans probably observed this year’s September 11 with a mixture of grief, sadness, and smoldering anger, but President George W. Bush made good political use of the occasion—to demand even more power for the federal police state his administration is constructing.

Not content with measures his critics on both the right and the left view with alarm, the president and his faithful companion Attorney General John Ashcroft have been muttering about how helpless they are against terrorism without the new powers they want.

Despite the hasty enactment of the foolishly named “Patriot Act” in the hysterical wake of the 9/11 attacks, the President at commemorative observances at the FBI academy in Quantico on Sept. 10 pronounced that the powers he already has “did not go far enough,” in the Washington Posts paraphrase. Among the powers Mr. Bush wants are the authority to issue subpoenas without permission from a grand jury, the power to hold suspects without bail, and more use of the death penalty. ["President Asks for Expanded Patriot Act Authority Sought To Fight Terror," By Dana Milbank, Washington Post , September 11, 2003]

As for Mr. Ashcroft, he seems to have devoted most of September to hectoring and ridiculing his critics. Last week he denounce d those critics as “hysterics” and claimed their worries about infringing civil liberties were merely “ghosts.”

If the critics consisted only of the usual gang of professional civil liberties lawyers, professors and ideologues, Mr. Ashcroft’s badinage might be justified, and the attorney general would probably like everyone to think that’s who the critics are.

But they’re not. They include such non-hysterical voices of the political right as former Rep. Bob Barr, one of the most conservative figures in politics, and the equally conservative legislator Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. It is mainly due to Mr. Sensenbrenner that the ill-conceived child of the Patriot Act, often called “Patriot II,” has not already become law.

What especially worries the critics of the administration’s domestic counter-terrorism program is what is known as Section 215 of the existing act. Under that section the FBI can seize all manner of private records, including the now-famous library check-out and bookstore sales records, but including also computer files, educational and medical records, and genetic information.

The kicker is that the FBI can do all this without informing the person whose records it seizes and without having to show “probable cause” that he is a terrorist or a hostile foreign agent.

Civil libertarian Nat Hentoff has compared Section 215 to the “general warrants” used by the British against the American colonists, one of the principal issues in the American Revolution.

The defense of this section of the law by the attorney general and the administration has been that it really hasn’t been used all that much. Thus, Mr. Ashcroft, in his tasteless attempt to ridicule his critics last week, brayed that “the Department of Justice has neither the staffing, the time, or the inclination to monitor the reading habits of Americans,” and an internal memo of his at the Justice Department supports his claim that the department has never used Section 215.

Of course, that defense raises the further question of why the section is necessary at all.

Obviously it isn’t, and probably neither are most of the other powers the Patriot Act grants, let alone the vastly expanded ones of Patriot II.

It is thunderously noticeable in most of the defensive speeches, wisecracks and sarcasm about the critics of these laws that hardy anyone ever actually specifies why such vast powers are needed and what terrorism they have actually prevented. What we do know is that every few weeks the government issues yet another statement claiming that the “terrorist threat” remains serious or is greater than ever or may be getting worse. There seems to be no reason to think the new powers have helped us at all.

But the larger point is not what this administration does or doesn’t do with the new powers.

The point is that the powers are far larger than the government of any free people should have and that whatever powers this administration doesn’t use could still be used by future ones.

That, of course, is how free peoples typically lose their freedom—not by a dictator like Saddam Hussein suddenly grabbing power in the night and seizing all the library records but by the slow erosion of the habits and mentality that enables freedom to exist at all.

Instilling in citizens the notion that the power to seize library records is something the state needs is an excellent way to assist that erosion.

Most libertarians, of the left or the right, will tell you how we have been eroding those habits and that mentality for several decades now.

What the Bush administration is contributing seems to be one of the final chapters in the story.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Civil Liberties, Terrorism 
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Apparently it takes a British newspaper to confirm that paranoia about the police-state trends of the U.S. government is starting to come true.

Last week the London Independent disclosed, just as some American anti-war protestors have claimed for a year or more, that the federal government has a little list of dissidents to see whom it should stop, search and possibly detain at airports. [US anti-war activists hit by secret airport ban, By Andrew Gumbel, Independent, August 03, 2003 Pay archive free]

The list is not the same as the perfectly sensible catalogue of suspected criminals and terrorists known as the “no-fly” list the government maintains. Nobody on the previously unknown list seems to have broken the law or threatened anyone, and, until the Transportation Security Administration confirmed its existence last week, it was entirely secret.

According to the Independent, the list, “possibly hundreds or even thousands of names long,” consists of people the government “deems worthy of special scrutiny at airports.”

Indeed, thanks to what seems to be the virtually total silence of the American media about it, the existence of the list remains effectively as secret now as before the Independent reported it.

Nor is the list confined to anti-war activists. In fact, there’s really no telling who’s on the list or what its purpose is. The only reason it’s known at all is that in the course of a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the TSA spilled at least one or two beans about it. The activists who filed the suit are two peaceniks who say they have never been arrested but were stopped at the San Francisco airport last year, detained briefly and told “they were on an FBI no-fly list.”

And they aren’t the only ones. Two others described in the Independent account as “a left-wing constitutional lawyer who has been strip-searched repeatedly when traveling through U.S. airports” and, most dangerous of all , “a 71-year-old nun from Milwaukee who was prevented from flying to Washington to join an anti-government protest,” are also on the list.

As the London paper also reports, “It is impossible to know for sure who might be on the list, or why,” but according to the American Civil Liberties Union, some 300 people have already been detained at the San Francisco airport, though “in no case does it appear that a wanted criminal was apprehended.”

Finally, lefties aren’t the only people to come under government scrutiny. The Independent also says that “at least one conservative organization, the Eagle Forum, says its members have been interrogated by security staff.”

Conservatives in general have never had much of a problem with government lists of suspected subversives and terrorists and rightly so. They recognize the legitimacy of the state to protect national security, including internal security.

But what the government seems to be doing these days is quite different from what conservatives have always defended.

In the first place, not only does no one seem to know who’s on the list but no one seems to know even what the list is for. If people who have no criminal records are on it, what’s the point? And if the government can’t explain the point, how does it know whom to put on the list at all? It’s one thing to make a list of criminals and terrorists, but the only criterion for making the new list seems to be the expression of some degree of skepticism about current government policy. There is no reason to believe the purpose of the list is to keep track of people actually involved in anti-American activities, even at a legal and non-violent level.

ACLU spokesmen say there are some funny things about it. According to answers the TSA offered, “The agency had no way of making sure that people did not end up on the list simply because of things they had said or organizations they belonged to. Once people were on the list, there was no procedure for trying to get off it. The TSA did not even think it was important to keep track of people singled out in error for a security grilling. According to documents the agency released, it saw ‘no pressing need to do so’.”

Swell. The government doesn’t seem to know what the list is really for, who’s on it, why they’re on it, or why they should be removed from it.

What’s dangerous about the list and the intrusion it represents are two things: First, not so much what the government is doing with the list now, but what it might eventually do with it once it collects enough information about whoever is on it, and secondly, who else will eventually wind up on the list and why.

Conservatives who still think their government is interested only in stopping dangerous people can go back to sleep. The rest of us have reason to pay attention.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Government Surveillance, Terrorism 
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With 150,000 American troops headed for the showdown on the Euphrates, the FBI has suddenly discovered that the real danger to the United States lies right here in River City. It’s not pool but as many as 3,000 or more Iraqi nationals already in this country whom the FBI cannot find.

The Washington Post reported this week:

The FBI has launched a concerted search for several thousand illegal Iraqi immigrants who have gone missing while visiting the United States and are among those being sought for voluntary interviews in advance of a possible war with Iraq, officials said.

Although the majority of Iraqi immigrants are viewed as being opposed to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and sympathetic to the United States, federal authorities are concerned that others who have disappeared from the government’s view are more likely to be agents of the Iraqi regime or to be allied with terrorist groups, officials said.

["Missing Iraqis Sought, FBI Hunts for Thousands Here Illegally," By Dan Eggen, Washington Post, January 27, 2003]

The larger danger, of course, is the open borders immigration policy and its treasonous architects and lobbyists who have brought us to this situation.

Had the borders been closed permanently after 9/11, had a sane immigration policy been followed for the last 30 years, and had the federal government taken seriously the repeated warnings over those three decades that the border is out of control, we would not now be squatting in terror whether Saddam Hussein’s sleeper agents will deploy smallpox in the water supply, nuclear weapons in American sports stadiums or chemical and biological agents in American shopping malls.

“Imagine,” President Bush said in his State of the Union address,“those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.” [SOTU address text videoaudio]

Just so—assuming Saddam’s intentions are as hostile toward this country as Mr. Bush’s are against his.

Iraq may or may not be a serious threat to this country now, but after the war the administration seems hell-bent on waging is launched, you can bet your warheads Iraq will be our enemy.

Even if Saddam doesn’t have sleepers already here, it’s predictable that Iraqis slavering for vengeance on the Great Satan that attacked their fatherland will take up where Osama bin Laden’s suicide squad left off.

Yet the 3,000 missing Iraqis are merely a blip on the government screen. There are also some “50,000 Iraqi nationals who have entered the United States as visitors or refugees within the last decade or so” for whom the FBI is looking as well, and then there are as many as some 300,000 “absconders” of various nationalities, as immigrants who fail to meet deportation orders are called. After Sept. 11, the Post tells us, the government launched a program to locate and deport the 300,000 absconders. To date, “the program has succeeded in removing only about 1,100 people, officials said.”

Obviously, foreigners who sneak into the country illegally or stay after their visas have expired cannot be counted against our immigration policy in general. But the larger point is that for the last 30 years neither the federal government nor the Congress nor most of the opinion-forming media have taken immigration problems seriously.

Possessed by the mythology of “a nation of immigrants” and hectored constantly by the sneers and accusations of cheap labor open borders propagandists, the politicians, administrators and journalists have generally failed to perceive much of a problem in chronic lax border security and the permanent presence of millions of illegal aliens.

The security threats we now face are all of a piece with our generally flaccid attitude and policies toward the issue of who can come and who can stay that we have followed for nearly two generations.

It may be that what Mr. Bush calls a “day of horror” will not happen, that none of the missing illegals is a terrorist. But what is frightening is that no one knows—including the FBI and the people in our government who are supposed to know.

“We don’t really know how big the problem is or how big the threat might be, but the possibility is real,” a “senior counter-terrorism official” told the Post.

If Sept. 11 proved anything, it is that who you let into your country is important—not simply a good way to hire cheap nannies or make you feel toasty about how open-minded you are.

Most Americans knew that already, and most who didn’t have learned it since 9/11.

It’s too much to expect that the Treason Lobby that never gives up working for open borders and limitless immigration will ever learn it.

But it’s not too much to ask that those who make and enforce our immigration laws absorb it as soon as possible.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Immigration, Terrorism 
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I do not know the Rev. Matt Hale, head of the “World Church of the Creator,” have not read much about his beliefs, and have no disposition to defend him. Nevertheless, I do not believe he or his followers bear much resemblance to the international terrorist network of Al Qaeda, although that seemed to be the brunt of the message New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof was determined to send his readers last week. [NYT, Hate, American Style (August 30, 2002)]

Mr. Kristof went to the trouble of traveling all the way from the safety and civilization of New York City to the wilderness of East Peoria, Illinois, where Mr. Hale lives, and taking him to lunch (Yes, no doubt to Mr. Kristof’s amazement, they do have restaurants in East Peoria, it seems).

Mr. Hale, you see, is a “racist” and an “anti-Semite,” terms he apparently uses himself to characterize his and his followers’ beliefs, and regards interracial marriage as “a form of bestiality.” Mr. Kristof wanted to meet Mr. Hale because, he says, “he has become the key figure of America’s hate community,” members of which “have shot, knifed or beaten blacks, Jews and Asian-Americans in several states.”

But the real reason Mr. Kristof traveled several hundred miles to meet, take to lunch, and write about a fellow who strikes me as both deservedly obscure and thoroughly pathetic, I suspect, is that Mr. Kristof wants his readers to believe that “racists” and “anti-Semites” of the far right are as dangerous as the real-life terrorists who leveled the World Trade Centers.

His column is part of a subtle campaign the witch-hunting left has waged for the last year to “link” the American right to Muslim terrorism, or at least to sympathy for it.

After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the left tried the exact same tactic, some even trying to connect House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Republican Party to Timothy McVeigh and the “militias” to which he never belonged.

One purpose of such “linkages” is to discredit the entire right, whether Republican, mainstream conservative, or far right, simply through the tactic of “guilt by association.” It’s a tactic usually ascribed to Sen. Joe McCarthy but is far more often used by the left itself. The left calls it “linking,” and it consists simply of lumping all of the above together, regardless of the vast differences among them, and claiming they’re “like” Al Qaeda (or the Nazis, or the Klan, or whatever demon haunts the left’s mind this week).

“It would be flattering Mr. Hale too much,” Mr. Kristof sneers, “to call his group America’s Al Qaeda,” though that’s essentially what he calls it. Mr. Hale and his church, which supposedly preaches the gospel of “Rahowa,” or “Racial Holy War,” are “revitalizing racism by recruiting women, children and convicts into a high-tech, energetic organization whose followers show a pattern of random brutality towards blacks and other ‘enemies.’”

“They are not a threat to national stability,” Mr. Kristof rather ruefully acknowledges, “but they are every bit as loony as Al Qaeda and they have been enmeshed in violence.”

The other object of “linking,” even by somewhat far-fetched comparisons, indigenous movements of the right to real foreign terrorists is to lay the groundwork for legal sanctions against political dissent from the right.

The left, of course, denies that, boasting of its commitment to “free speech” and the First Amendment, but the logic is obvious enough. If Mr. Hale and his merry band of racial holy warriors are as “loony” and violent as Al Qaeda, then they ought to be watched, if not rounded up and put away.

And they’re not alone, Mr. Kristof assures us. “There are plenty of other domestic counterparts to Islam’s manic mullahs. Think of Christian Reconstructionism,” a movement that advocates Old Testament laws but which even Mr. Kristof does not say practices or advocates violence.

What other groups does Mr. Kristof think are “domestic counterparts” to mass murdering terrorists?

Are there any groups on the political left at all he thinks are dangerous? He never mentions a one.

In the panic after Sept. 11, we have seen laws passed and policies adopted that allow the government to hold suspects without warrants, try them in secret military courts, spy on law-abiding groups and individuals and harass innocent “persons of interest” with no evidence against them of any crime.

Most of the targets of these policies so far have been Arabs or Muslims. Now, with the help of people like Mr. Kristof, the ground is being prepared for the same powers to be deployed against Americans- simply because of their opinions about politics, race and religion.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Government Surveillance, Terrorism 
Sam Francis
About Sam Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was a leading paleoconservative columnist and intellectual theorist, serving as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan and as an editorial writer, columnist, and editor at The Washington Times. He received the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in both 1989 and 1990, while being a finalist for the National Journalism Award (Walker Stone Prize) for Editorial Writing of the Scripps Howard Foundation those same years. His undergraduate education was at Johns Hopkins and he later earned his Ph.D. in modern history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include The Soviet Strategy of Terror(1981, rev.1985), Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham (1984); Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism (1993); Revolution from the Middle: Essays and Articles from Chronicles, 1989–1996 (1997); and Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham (1999). His published articles or reviews appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, National Review, The Spectator (London), The New American, The Occidental Quarterly, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, of which he was political editor and for which he wrote a monthly column, “Principalities and Powers.”