You may hear a legal phrase more often in the coming years in the War on Terror, and we think you will. It was coined by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson in 1949. What he said was that the Bill of Rights, the Constitution as a whole, and the traditions of freedom Americans believe in, were not a "suicide pact" among ourselves. By that he meant, simply, that our beliefs among ourselves respecting each other's freedoms, and foreigners' freedoms while in the U.S., did not rise to the level of an agreement that the country itself should, or could be destroyed simply, and absolutely, to stick, nitpick fashion, to cross every "t" and dot every "i" to preserve those individual freedoms.
This Association agrees with Justice Jackson's constitutional concept but reserves the right to criticize any policy which alienates any American freedom without at the same time achieving, as a trade off, a major substantive achievement in America's War on Terror.
And we will continue to voice those criticisms.
-From the Association
6-12-02 - From James Calhoun:
Many of your readers lived through the second half of the Twentieth Century. The United States faced a menacing threat then, and that threat was Soviet imperialist Communism, and it was real. But whatever you say about the evil of that threat, and it was evil, it did not dawn on anybody then, or now, to say, that people in the Kremlin Politburo were capable of ordering suicidalists to fly planes into American cities, or to sneak radioactive bombs into the U.S. and set them off. Stalin, Malenkov, Bulganin, Khruschev, Brezhnev, Kosygin, Chernyenko, assorted heads of the KGB who pulled just about every spy stunt known to man, and Gorbachev, maybe they didn't exactly represent Western civilization, but they still had enough respect for it not to plot such heart-rending thuggery.
Not so with the foreign Islamic fundamentalist terrorist threat directed at the U.S. today. These new barbarians know no bounds. Accordingly, they are a more serious threat than Soviet Communism was. And while America's War on Terror is fundamentally a war for America's freedoms, it is also a war of civilization against this new barbarism which, just like Soviet imperialism was, is directed at us from across the seas.
These new barbarians are using, in sum, an "asymmetry" of weapons and strategy to attack us, just like the North Vietnamese did in 1965, banking that the U.S. will tie one of its own arms behind its back and respond as we did then, only in a "symmetric" fashion.
We shouldn't make the same mistake twice.
6-19-02 - From the Association:
The Association has learned that 27,000 pounds of explosives have been stolen in the U.S. since 1998 from private companies. Now, most of that tonnage was resold on the black market to demolition companies looking for a bargain, but there is no law forbidding foreigners from buying explosives, or forbidding them from even being in possession of them, and American law enforcement prioritization against people illegally in possession of explosives, just like law enforcement prioritization against those illegally in possession of dangerous narcotics, is non-existent.
Yes, that's right, we didn't say "almost" non-existent, we said "non-existent."
6-20-02 - From Kobe Washington:
Thomas Friedman, ace reporter and columnist for the New York Times, said one of the most incisive, and paradoxical, things about foreign Islamic fundamentalist terror, on PBS-TV's Newshour with Jim Lehrer. He said that young people in Saudi Arabia see there a dictatorial Wahabi monarchy in bed with the United States, so they're becoming more fundamentalist, more terroristic, more anti-Western, and more anti-U.S. He then said that young people in Iran see there a dictatorial, mullah-run, fundamentalist, anti-American regime, so they're becoming more wordly, more modern, more tolerant, and more pro-U.S.
In the 1930's Stalin's Comintern openly espoused right-wing dictatorships in Europe, on the theory that the more right-wing the government, the quicker it would hasten Communist revolution. They turned out to be wrong, but it's still an intriguing idea.
In any event, all kids tend to be rebellious, and the more things change, the more they remain the same.
6-20-02 - From the Association:
Can you believe, as the Association learned today, that private individuals and companies are actually allowed to rent and sell real and replica police, firefighter and EMS vehicles to the American public, as well as to Arabs, no questions asked?
For a profit, no less.
It's a felony in every state to impersonate a police officer. Why should these people be permitted to assist criminals to commit terror?
What an outrage! Tell your Congressperson to stop this nonsense today.
6-21-02 - From the Association:
There are now a total of 27 countries on the ground in Afghanistan supporting the U.S. led effort there.
6-26-02 - From Artrel Miller:
The Bush Administration has demanded, and Yasser Arafat has accepted, "free elections" for a democratic government in Palestine. Arafat has announced those elections for the presidency for January 2003 and for the legislature for march 2003.
Bush's demand is both studied, brilliant and cute all at the same time. No Arab society, for the past 50 years or longer, has been able to maintain a democracy. Every Arab state, in one way or another, is run by some form of dictatorship, so it is empirically unlikely the Palestinians can do any different. If they try and fail, both the USG and Israel will say enough of this talk of Arafat as the "chosen" leader, we told you so, they're anti-democracy.
If, on the other hand, Arafat is defeated in free elections, in either the presidency or in the legislature by militants screaming openly for Israeli blood, both the USG and Israel can for the first time openly identify these people as a new murderous Taliban which needs taking down.
Democratic elections in Palestine, if they actually take place, in effect box Arafat in, like he's never been boxed in before, and this is good.
6-28-02 - From the Association:
This Association has learned that Al Quaida is planning a massive cyber-assault on American computers which run our water and power supplies. There is a terrorist website, we'll call it "Islamicterror.com," which has attempted attacks on U.S. Government and Military Organization sites before. Islamicterror.com openly coordinates and trains these Al Quaida cyber-terrorists and apparently we can't do anything about them because their hard drive host is not in the U.S.
6-30-02 - From Michael Waters:
Yasser Arafat, when asked by President Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia why he did not accept the Clinton peace plan for a Palestinian state, replied: " Look, we've got 150 years, and we'll throw them [the Jews] into the sea."
Arafat, through a spokesman, later denied he made the statement.
Yasser Arafat, in my opinion, is no more likely to give up terrorism than Tiger Woods is likely to give up golf.
7-4-02 - From the Association:
A 52-year old Egyptian, Hashem Mohammed Hadayet, the owner of a L.A. limousine company (How do these people get their money in the first place?), and someone, this Association has learned from its own sources, with Al Quaida ties, opens fire on civilians at the El Al ticket counter at LAX, murdering two Jews. The FBI says Hadayet's act was not terrorism. The State of Israel says it was. We agree with Israel.
7-5-02 - From the Association:
In a related story to Hadayet, the FBI begins raiding Pakistani-owned jewelry stores in the U.S. (How do these people get their money in the first place?), especially in Florida. The stores were, and are, fronts to funnel money to Al Quaida.
7-5-02 - From Jeff Jacoby
Though Al Gore has his faults, not even his most unsparing critic thinks he might take it into his head to hijack an airplane. But that didn't stop Transportation Security Agency (TSA) airport screeners from pulling him out of line as he was preparing to board a flight from Washington to Milwaukee last week and running him through the full "security" check: body-scanned, briefcase rifled, underwear pawed through. And it didn't stop them from doing it to him again the next day when he flew to New York.
And so the 45th Vice-President of the United States has something in common with arthritic grandmothers, diaper-wearing 2-year olds, Members of Congress and even the 44th Vice-President, Dan Quayle: All have been subjected to pointless airport searches that had nothing to do with security and everything to do with political correctness.
[Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is the man behind theses nonsensical new security theories.] Asked on "60 Minutes" whether he thought "a 70-year old white woman from Vero Beach" should receive the same scrutiny as "a Muslim young man from Jersey City," he answered at once, "I would hope so."
And what Mineta hopes, so it shall be done. "Do not subject persons or their property to inspection, search, and/or detention solely because they appear to be Arab, Middle Eastern, Asian and/or Muslim," Transportation Department regulations decree.
As a technique for stopping hijackers, this is demented. The September 11 terrorists were not a random sample of population types. They were all young men, they were all Arab, they were all radical Islamists, and they were all from the Middle East. To pretend that sex, ethnicity, religion and national origin are irrelevant to stopping terrorists is to leave the door open to another calamity.
If you make the plausible assumption that Al Quaida terrorists are at least 100 times as likely to be from the Middle East as to be native-born Americans and that fewer than 5% of all passengers on domestic flights are Middle Eastern men, it would follow that a randomly chosen Middle Eastern male passenger is roughly 2,000 times as likely to be an Al Quaida terrorist as a randomly chosen native-born American. It is crazy to ignore such odds.
[Association Note: But Mineta's rules do just that. And while he's got his people attacking innocent Americans, the real Al Quaida suspect, not Al Gore, is sneaking on board the plane undetected. What really needs to be done is not just to bring back ethnic profiling of any person who looks or sounds Arab, but to make that profiling the cornerstone of a truly new, and commonsensical, security at our airports.]
7-5-02 - From the Association:
Mineta's Transportation Department, we point out, is the same group spending like a drunken sailor on the new Transporattion Security Agency (TSA) Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offering upwards of $100,000 per year salaries to new federal TSA airport security personnel, and has just asked Congress for $4.5 billion more in appropriations.
This is at the same time Mineta's screeners at 32 of the Nation's largest airports failed to detect fake weapons, even though there was no real effort made to conceal them - guns, dynamite and bombs - in almost a quarter of undercover tests conducted in June. Here are the failure rates for the five worst airports: Cincinnati: 58%; Las Vegas: 50%; Jacksonville: 50%; Los Angeles: 41%; Sacramento: 40%. " A 41% failure rate is just pathetic," says Jack Plaxe, an aviation security consultant.
Let's put a stop to this nonsense. Contact Congress and tell them to end computerized based arrests of innocent Americans at our airports and to have a common sense approach to security which concentrates on profiling Arabs, Persians and Muslims. Tell them to cancel the new TSA Headquarters and to pay airport screeners what they're worth, not ridiculous windfalls.
And at the same time Mineta's spending like a drunken sailor at TSA, many people within his Department want to cancel AmTrak, which does an excellent job of transporting 65,000 Americans per day (this could be 100 times that number if AmTrak's physical infrastructure system were properly funded), including both those too poor or too frightened to fly, and business commuters in the Northeast corridor who love its high speed connections many times surpassing air travel. AmTrak also unites small towns in the country with land transportation for many of those mentioned, especially west of the Mississippi River. And it does all those things without any real terror threat posed by its form of transportation.
Even as black and white soldiers wielding God's terrible swift sword in the armies of Grant and Sherman were reuniting a recalcitrant South with the North in the War to End Slavery, 80 horse riders were on the road every day and night on the Pony Express uniting our country between St. Louis and Sacramento with mail. But that was nothing.
Rail tracks were being laid to bring America even closer, by two rival companies, tracks which would put both the Pony Express, and the stagecoach, out of business forever. As our pioneers and Buffalo Soldiers moved West to our Manifest Destiny, those rails, serving both passengers and freight, were united in our Rockies.
AmTrak is not just a living monument to that Manifest Destiny. It also serves the same purpose today. These are reasons enough to preserve it.
In sum, we'd say Mineta, who is being given way too much autonomy to run Transportation by the Bush Administration as if it were his private fief, needs a good attitude adjustment session, at a minimum.
7-9-02 From Colin McBride:
The anti-American oil-rich mullahs who run Iran have arrested and convicted an American citizen, born in Iran, of "dirty dancing," because he made rock line-dancing videos in Los Angeles, videos which were pretty tame (and lame) by MTV standards (I've seen them), and sentenced him to 10 years where he cannot leave Iran.
No wonder President Bush has called these people part of an axis of evil. The story points out not only the substantive evil hatred these thugs in Iran's government have, in the name of Islam, for basic rights like freedom of expression, but also the dangers of extraterritorial claims of criminal jurisdiction, made by thugocracies, over U.S. citizens.
7-10-02 - From the Association:
At least one, and probably more, U.S. Foreign Service officers in the U.S. Consulate in Qatar have been selling visas to, it turns out, at least seven Al Quaida suspects, for $10,000 apiece, since before 9-11. The woman who heads the Visa Division at the State Department has been asked to resign by the Bush Administration.
7-17-02 - From Andrew Dauvier:
Prior to the recent past, Muslims abroad did not hate the United States or American values. Today, for whatever reasons political scientists, Muslim and non-Muslim both, can debate about, justified, semi-justified or unjustified, a majority in the Muslim world, like Hitler in Germany in the 1940's, have adopted a "Goetterdamerung" attitude, "Our way or the highway: we will destroy you, or you will destroy us. We don't care if we're all killed and, in fact, in our fanaticism, we wish it." It is, quite simply, in the crossing of that "Death Wish" line, that condemns them, and should condemn them, not their religion.
If you build it, they will come. If they wish it, it will come. It is not a question of if, but only of when.