Archive for January, 2010

Domestic Terrorism

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

In the face of all of the claims regarding the relative effectiveness of current and previous administrations to prevent domestic terrorist attacks, I thought some facts might be interesting.

These were compiled from the Wikipedia entry on Terrorism in the United States.

Under President Clinton, there were eight incidents of domestic Islamic terrorism. The most famous of these was the Trade Tower bombing in 1993 that killed six and injured 1042. Four of the six who carried out the attacks were put on trial, convicted, and are serving life sentences. One remains on the US terrorist list but disappeared in 2003. The other died in Saudi Arabia in 2007

There were also at least two terrorist attacks that the Clinton administration prevented. One in 1993 in New York and the other on and around January 1, 2000 at various sites including LAX. In both cases, the perpetrators were arrested, convicted, and are now in prison.

Under President Bush, there were six domestic attacks connected with Islamic terrorists. The first was in New York and Washington DC on 9/11/02. The last was in 2006 in Seattle.

There were also at least ten other attempts that were prevented including the famous shoe bomber case in 2001. All perpetrators were prosecuted in US court and are in prison.

Under President Obama there have been two domestic attacks associated with Islamic terrorists. One was at Fort Hood where 13 were killed and 30 wounded. The other at an Arkansas recruiting office where one was killed and one wounded. Both attackers were US citizens.

There have been at least six other attempts that either failed or were prevented. The most famous of those is the recent attempted Christmas bombing.

So the reality is that no administration has been able to prevent domestic attacks from radicals who feel that the United States is at war with Islam. We also appear to be getting better at disrupting terrorist activity here at home, but we are far from perfect.

What we need going forward are facts and accountability, not tea party politics.

The costs of failure are too great to allow petty partisanship to undermine the efforts of those who job it is to protect us.

Political Correctness

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

The recent failed bomb attack has spawned an interesting right-wing reaction.

The line I hear most is that some misplaced sense of political correctness caused the attack.

This is hard to figure since the attacker presented a valid passport and visa to Amsterdam authorities before boarding the plane bound for Detroit. This was not a breakdown of US airport screening. In response the Dutch have announced that all US bound Amsterdam passengers will now have to go through full body scans before boarding.

The truth of this particular situation is that there was a breakdown in the information systems designed by the Bush administration in response to the 911 attacks. The good news is that no one died this time and we have another chance to figure out why this terrorist alert system failed.

The reality is that Bush/Cheney policies created much of the terrorist threat we now fear. Their failure to take intelligence warnings prior to 911 seriously, gave al Qaeda a worldwide stage. The invasion of Iraq created a battle field where muslims were killed, wounded, and raped. Sexual abuses at abu Ghraib proved their claim that we were corrupt. Black torture sites proved us lawbreaking liars. Guantanamo remains an international example for al Qaeda of what muslims should expect from us.

This is not a war against people. It is a conflict against an evil idea.

We can’t imprison, torture, or kill our way to victory against this idea. Our attempts to do so only strengthen the idea.

We have to prove that the idea is wrong.

We do that by demonstrating that we are a moral nation of laws with freedom and justice for all. We extract ourselves from Iraq and Afghanistan. We hold those accountable who break our laws by putting them on trial. We work with the rest of the world to capture those who seek to attack us and our allies.

We slow the spread of this idea by proving that we are a nation that cherishes the rights of every citizen regardless of race, color, or creed.

We offer to share our freedoms with all willing to live in peace.

It is at times like this that our freedoms are at most risk, not from those who attack us, but from those who claim that the only way we can be safe is to give them up.