The ‘War’ on Terror vs. a Police Action

This blurb by Dave Neiwert at Crooks and Liars is fascinating. It is so blithely ignorant of its own irony that it could easily be construed as a child sticking its tongue out at a playmate and sneering, “So there, nyeah.”

The next time you hear some right-winger (most notably Dick Cheney) sneer at the Obama administration’s “law enforcement approach to terrorism,” remember this.

Remember what? How incredibly lucky we are because twice now since Christmas we failed to interdict a terrorist attack because the essence of the “law enforcement approach” is to wait until the terrorists have killed a lot of Americans before acting? The “law enforcement approach” did not stop Shahzad from trying to incinerate New Yorkers in Times Square, nor did it stop Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from trying to bring down an airplane filled with people on Christmas day.

If Mr. Shahdaz was sitting in jail right after a successful attack, how sneeringly juvenile would Neiwert be about that? If Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had been able to bring down the plane on Christmas day, how much crowing would Neiwert be doing about the “law enforcement approach” to terrorism?

The police have an important role to play in the War on Terror. No one disputes this except people like Neiwert trying to set up strawman arguments to shadow box with his political opponents. International cooperation to break up terror cells already in place is a vital component to keep us safe. Cheney should know. He headed a Bush administration effort that, for all its faults, worked closely with our allies, and even those nations who don’t like us very much (Pakistan) in a proactive attempt to foil terrorist plots before they occurred.

Those of us who believe that we are at war with Islamic extremists (they certainly believe they are at war with us) want to go beyond this common sense approach and, using special forces, drones, and even assassins, attack terrorists where they are hiding to prevent them from planning attacks on us in the first place. Also, if necessary, attack nations that harbor and succor terrorists who have successfully attacked America.

Don’t look now, but President Obama is doing all of that (I have no doubt he would respond with military force if it could be shown a major attack on America originated in a country that allowed terrorists safe haven). He’s just not calling it a “War on Terror” and has liberals like Neiwert bamboozled into thinking he has altered President Bush’s policies much at all. He hasn’t. He has stepped up the use of drones on our enemies while special forces are assisting Yemenis, Pakistanis, and probably other nations in going after and killing terrorists. His emphasis on law enforcement is cosmetic. In order not to offend the sensibilities of moderate Muslims (and to fool his own domestic political base), the president is downplaying the military aspect of the War on Terror in his public pronouncements. What goes on behind the scenes is a different story.

Cheney is upset that Obama isn’t acting like a cowboy and broadcasting our efforts to fight a war against the terrorists where they live and plot their attacks. And liberals like Neiwert are deluding themselves if they think that because the atmospherics have changed, the policy has been altered. Nothing could be further from the truth.

CIA paramilitaries, SEALS, Green Berets, and special forces units from every branch of the service are engaged in a “hot” war with those who would do us harm. They are working with the military and intelligence services of other nations to track, expose, and kill terrorists. By any definition you want to use, this is war. And Neiwert’s arrogant posturing notwithstanding, it is a vitally important adjunct to efforts by police around the world to carry out their own anti-terrorism functions that not only look to capture terrorists before they can harm us, but also take away their sources of finance, cut off their communications with their overseas masters, and relentlessly pursue them, never giving them a moment’s rest.

Our military constantly feeds intelligence gleaned from their efforts to our allies in the War on Terror who pass the information along to local and national police authorities. It is a symbiotic relationship that has proven very successful – for the most part. But as former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge pointed out years ago, we have to be successful in interdicting the terrorist’s plans 100% of the time where they only have to be successful once in order to kill a lot of Americans.

The recent attacks in Detroit on Christmas day and in Times Square over the weekend highlight that truism. It is worrisome in both instances that our own government dropped the ball; a failure in airport security measures that failed to stop Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from attempting his murder, and several red flags that should have made Faisal Shahzad a person of interest to domestic law enforcement. This calls into question the basic competence of this administration and whether President Obama is protecting the homeland adequately.

Only by the grace of God and the incompetence of the attackers has a major domestic terrorist incident been avoided over the last few months. I hardly think that calls for the kind of childishness offered up by Dave Neiwert or any other lefty who is stupidly celebrating their “victory” over their political foes.

A few more victories like that and we’re going to have a lot of dead Americans to mourn.

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