The FBI is damned if it tries to gather intelligence, and damned if it doesn’t.
Its agents are damned as bigots when they attempt the most modest of surveillance measures based on race, religion, or other politically incorrect criteria, and they are damned as bumblers when they fail to act on information gathered through those means. This Seattle Times article today details how Muslims and Arab Americans are up in arms because FBI agents–gasp!–want to ask them questions about possible terrorist attacks. Excerpt:
About 20 Muslims met with U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, on Saturday and discussed the matter. In the last two weeks, nearly 30 Muslims in Seattle have been questioned by federal agents, a mosque spokesman said.
The men talked about being invited to the FBI office by agents who said they wanted to reach out to the Muslim community, Junejo said. When they arrived, however, Junejo said they instead were asked questions about membership in terrorist organizations and whether they had recently purchased an emergency vehicle.
“You don’t round up all Irish people on St. Patrick’s Day or Italians on Columbus Day, just because the people who did this damage were from the same country,” said McDermott, who attended yesterday’s event. He said he wanted to hold a congressional hearing on the matter.
“Right after 9/11, they rounded up 7,000 people and there was not one single charge,” he said. “It was useless harassment of a lot of people.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington has offered to assist anyone approached by the FBI. In a recent statement, Kathleen Taylor, the executive director of ACLU of Washington, said the technique used by the FBI “is simply ethnic profiling.”
Julya Hampton, ACLU legal-program director, said in the statement, “Treating innocent people like criminals is certain to drive a wedge between law enforcement and the communities that agencies should be reaching out to.”
For crying out loud. Nobody is being “rounded up.” Nobody is being treated like a “criminal.” (As for what McDermott calls the “useless harassment” of 7,000 people questioned and detained after 9/11, virtually all were in the country illegally and many were fugitives from deportation orders.)
The FBI is trying to do what everyone has been haranguing it to do since 9/11: prevent another terrorist attack. Its agents aren’t going to do that by visiting the Seattle Catholic Archdiocese or local synagogues. They are going to have to “target” Muslims and visit mosques.
Those who moan about “racial and ethnic profiling” now will be the first to attack the agency for not doing enough if and when another terrorist attack occurs. Exhibit A: Liberal hypocrite Maureen Dowd, the New York Times’ resident chaise lounge general. Here is what she wrote after the FBI admitted that it resisted Phoenix FBI agent Kenneth Williams’ recommendation to profile Arab/Muslim flight students in the summer of 2001:
Now we know the truth: The 9/11 terrorists could have been stopped if…the law enforcement agencies had not been so inept, obstructionist, arrogant, antiquated, bloated and turf-consciousand timid about racial profiling.
Just where exactly does Dowd think such timidity stems from, hmmm?