Thursday, December 31, 2009

The wake-up call from Flight 253

by Jeff Jacoby

AFTER THE SEPT. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it was widely asserted at the time, nothing would be the same. What Pearl Harbor had been for our parents and grandparents, 9/11 would be for us: a shattering national wake-up call revealing both the gaping holes in America's homeland security and the reality that we were at war with an implacable enemy whose defeat would require years of sacrifice and resolve.

But it became clear after a while that for many Americans, 9/11 had not marked a break with old ways of thinking. As the near-unanimity of 9/11 receded, Americans divided into what the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes dubbed September 12 people, for whom 9/11 had changed everything, and September 10 people, who believed the terrorist threat was being exaggerated by the Bush administration and who regarded the fight against Islamist extremism as chiefly a matter of law enforcement.

Would that divide have closed if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had succeeded in blowing up Northwest Airlines flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day? If al-Qaeda, which reportedly trained Abdulmutallab in Yemen and is claiming responsibility for the thwarted attack, had succeeded in carrying out another 9/11, would the short-lived unity and moral clarity of that terrible day in 2001 have returned?

Had Flight 253 ended in the mass-murder the bomb plotters intended, Americans would today be filled with grief and fury. They would also be grappling with some hard lessons -- lessons that in recent years too many had been inclined to dismiss. Among them:

* Terrorism isn't caused by poverty and ignorance. Abdulmutallab came from a wealthy and privileged family, and had studied at one of Britain's top universities. He wasn't trying to kill hundreds of Americans out of socioeconomic despair. Like the 9/11 hijackers and countless other jihadists, Abdulmutallab was motivated by ideological and religious fanaticism. The teachings of militant Islam may seem monstrous to outsiders, but that is no reason to doubt that their adherents genuinely believe them, or that by giving their lives for jihad they hope to change the world.

* The global jihad is real. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was widely derided for initially insisting that Flight 253 wasn't blown up in mid-air because "the system worked" and "the whole process went very smoothly." Far more troubling, however, was her effort to downplay the suggestion that Abdulmutallab's attempted attack was "part of anything larger" -- this even after he had terrorist acknowledged his ties to al-Qaeda. Of course Abdulmutallab is part of something larger: He is part of the global jihad -- the relentless assault by Islamist radicals whose deadly serious goal is the submission of America and the West to Islamic law. If government officials like Napolitano cannot bring themselves to speak plainly about the jihadists' ambitions, how will they ever succeed in crushing them?

* Terrorists can always adapt to new restrictions. After 9/11, knives and sharp metal objects were banned from carry-on luggage, so Richard Reid attempted to detonate a shoe bomb. Thereafter everyone's shoes were checked, so the 2006 Heathrow plotters planned to use liquid-based explosives. Now liquids are strictly limited, so Abdulmutallab smuggled PETN, an explosive powder, in his underwear. There is no physical constraint that determined jihadists cannot find a way to circumvent. Yet US airport security remains obstinately reactive -- focused on intercepting dangerous things, instead of intercepting dangerous people. Unwilling to incorporate ethnic and religious profiling in our air-travel security procedures, we have saddled ourselves with a mediocre security system that inconveniences everyone while protecting no one.

* The Patriot Act was not a reckless overreaction. Security in a post 9/11 world has not come from pressing a "reset button," sending Guantanamo inmates off to Yemen, or refusing to use terms like "war on terrorism." It has come from stepped-up surveillance and stronger intelligence-gathering tools, and from working to pre-empt terror attacks in advance, rather than prosecuting them after the fact. Congress was not out of its mind when it enacted the Patriot Act in 2001, and the Bush administration was not trampling the Constitution when it deployed the expanded powers the law gave it: They were trying to prevent another 9/11 -- and they succeeded. President Obama has repeatedly and ostentatiously criticized his predecessor's approach. Perhaps it is not just a coincidence that Obama's first year in office has also seen an unprecedented surge in terrorist threats on US soil.

We came fearfully close to having to re-learn those lessons the hard way last week. Only the failure of Abdulmutallab's explosive to ignite and the bravery of the passenger and flight attendants who rushed him prevented what would have been the bloodiest attack on US soil in more than eight years. The world remains extremely dangerous, and the war against radical Islam is far from over. Flight 253 was another wake-up call. Did the September 10 people hear it?



Whistleblowers punished for warning of aviation security lapses

They've been frantically trying to warn America for the past six years: Aviation security is a joke, and it's only a matter of time before terrorists destroy another airplane full of innocent passengers.

The close call in Detroit on Christmas Day has vindicated a group of highly experienced experts -- including former airline pilots, federal air marshals and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors -- who were fired or demoted for pointing out obvious flaws in the nation's post-9/11 aviation security system to their chain of command.

Even now, facing financial ruin after their careers were trashed and their families destroyed, courageous members of the Whistleblowing Airline Employees Association ( refuse to be silenced.

Former United B-777 Captain Dan Hanley was forced out of the cockpit after filing federally mandated complaints in 2003 about the lack of federal air marshals and onboard cabin cameras aboard his high-risk London-to-New York flights. Six years later, there was still no federal air marshal aboard Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, even though both cities are well-known hotbeds of radical Islamic activity.

Robert MacLean, hand-picked as one of the first federal air marshals, was fired for publicly criticizing the Transportation Security Administration's plan to remove marshals from nonstop, long-distance flights -- in violation of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 -- because the agency didn't want to pay their hotel bills.

Former FAA inspector Gabe Bruno uncovered evidence that an airline mechanic certification school was being run by a criminal syndicate. He's still trying to get somebody -- anybody -- in the federal government to find out where all the bogus mechanics are currently employed.

Fellow FAA whistleblower Rich Wyeroski was canned for asking too many questions -- and pointing out the lunacy of forcing passengers to take off their shoes when the airplanes they board are serviced offshore in completely unsecured facilities.

Former TSA Red Team Leader Bogdan Dzakovic, one of the world's top experts on aviation security, was demoted to human answering machine after he testified at the 9/11 Commission's second hearing that safety issues were still not being addressed.

The U.S. government's No. 1 job is to protect American citizens, but it didn't stop Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian who was already on the terrorist watch list, from buying a ticket -- in cash -- for Seat 1House,Senate,President,White House,Conservatives,Liberals,Barack Obama,President,Democrats,Republicans,Libertarians,Irwin Stelzer:26398789:26398789:Irwin Stelzer, directly above the aircraft's fuel tank, or from boarding the Detroit-bound flight with explosives sewn into his underwear.

"This individual should not have been missed," fumed Maine Sen. Susan Collins, ranking member of the Senate homeland security committee, in a classic example of understatement. But the harsh punishment meted out to whistleblowers has had its predictably chilling effect. "Who's going to speak out if you have a 2 percent chance of success and your career will be trashed?" Hanley asked.

The few brave souls who lost everything to warn Americans of the ever-present danger in the skies have been kicked to the curb, while those who failed to perform the Department of Homeland Security's core mission -- led by Secretary Janet Napolitano and her claim that "the system worked" in the Detroit incident -- continue to collect their government paychecks, aided and abetted by an irresponsible Congress.

As Robert Spencer, author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam," told The Examiner: "In reality, nothing worked. ... All the stupid and humiliating airport security procedures, all the little Baggies for toothpaste and shampoo, all the padding through the security scanner in stocking feet didn't work."

The dirty and dangerous secret about airline security is that it's all just political theater designed to calm passengers' very real fears. If the system allows a young, radicalized Islamist known to U.S. authorities to board a plane with 80 grams of pentaerythritol tetranitrate sewn into his pants, nobody is safe.

Meanwhile, your government is too busy bailing out failed banks and car companies and taking over the health care industry to provide for the common defense. Just don't say you weren't warned.



Why Does Interpol Need Immunity from American Law?

You just can't make up how brazen this crowd is. One week ago, President Obama quietly signed an executive order that makes an international police force immune from the restraints of American law.

Interpol is the shorthand for the International Criminal Police Organization. It was established in 1923 and operates in about 188 countries. By executive order 12425, issued in 1983, President Reagan recognized Interpol as an international organization and gave it some of the privileges and immunities customarily extended to foreign diplomats. Interpol, however, is also an active law-enforcement agency, so critical privileges and immunities (set forth in Section 2(c) of the International Organizations Immunities Act) were withheld. Specifically, Interpol's property and assets remained subject to search and seizure, and its archived records remained subject to public scrutiny under provisions like the Freedom of Information Act. Being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, FOIA, and other limitations of the Constitution and federal law that protect the liberty and privacy of Americans is what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.

On Wednesday, however, for no apparent reason, President Obama issued an executive order removing the Reagan limitations. That is, Interpol's property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.

Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America's defense).

Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?


Another comment

American law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal level are bound by open records act laws. At the federal level, the Freedom of Information Act applies.

Knowing that an intrepid reporter can, after establishing credible sources, file a judicially enforcible FOIA request to obtain information from a law enforcement agency is one of the chief deterrents to law enforcement agencies from abusing discretionary power.

Additionally, Interpol is a foreign power, but operates out of the U.S. Department of Justice inside the United States. While Interpol has some limited immunities given by Ronald Reagan in the early 1980’s, it does not — or at least did not until last week — have immunity from the 4th Amendment. Consequently, this international agency could, should it abuse its powers, have the federal government seize its assets, etc.

In other words, the international police organization Interpol was treated like every other law enforcement agency in America — it was subject to FOIA requests and could, like any arm of a municipal, county, state, or federal government agency, have its property taken by the federal government if it crossed the boundaries of criminal law protection for the accused.

For no discernible reason whatsoever, last Wednesday when no one was looking, Barack Obama signed an executive order giving all immunities of foreign powers to Interpol.

In other words, Interpol is now in a better position than any American law enforcement institution that operates on American soil. It cannot have its records searched or seized and it is not subject to the restraints of sunshine and transparency that FOIA requests can bring.

At a time when Obama is worried about ensuring the rights of terrorists against the abuses of the American government, he has no problem surrendering American rights to an arm of the United Nations. This is extremely important because it comports with Barack Obama’s world view in ways harmful to American sovereignty. Obama has said repeatedly that he views no nation as greater than any other nation. He has said repeatedly that one nation should not be able to impose its will on another. He applies this even to the United States.

In Barack Obama’s world, the United States is no better and no worse than Iran, China, North Korea, or Kenya. In his world view, we are all players on an international stage with the United Nations as the leader. Therefore, while Obama will not give up American sovereignty to Peru, he is perfectly happy to give up sovereignty to the United Nations.

The man is not just an amateur. He is also a damnably naive fool.

This is also a backdoor to the International Criminal Court (”ICC”). The United States chose, before Obama took office, to avoid the ICC. Interpol has become the law enforcement arm of the ICC. By taking away the limits to Interpol’s immunity in the United States, Barack Obama has freed the organization up to conduct criminal investigations of individuals inside the United States on behalf of the ICC without any of us knowing about it.

And who does the ICC want to investigate? The lawyers, CIA operatives, and soldiers who have defended the United States in the War on Terror by setting up GTMO and prosecuting the war. These men and women now have yet another deterrent to keep them from being fully effective — the fear of an international criminal investigation that they don’t even know about.

How many Americans will get killed because of the policies Barack Obama is employing to undermine our safety and security in a dangerous world?




Not so liberating: The twilight of liberation theology: "It went almost unnoticed, but on December 5th, Benedict XVI articulated one of the most stinging rebukes that has ever been made by a pope of a particular theological school. Addressing a group of Brazilian bishops, Benedict followed some mild comments about Catholic education with some very sharp and deeply critical remarks about liberation theology and its effects upon the Catholic Church. Apart from stressing how certain liberation theologians drew heavily upon Marxist concepts, the pope also described these ideas as ‘deceitful.’”

Back from the brink: "For years, perhaps decades to come, Americans will be whittling away at the mountain of debt the Obama administration has built, in part to apply Maynard Keynes’s nostrums to the sagging economy, in greater part permanently to expand the size and role of government. On the day before Christmas, immediately after its dawn vote to pass the health care bill, when few were watching, the Senate joined the House in raising the debt ceiling so that the administration could borrow enough money — $290 billion — to keep the government running, but only for a few months, so great is the amount of red ink pouring onto the federal books. Congress is also preparing a second stimulus bill — it will have a different name — and instead of using the money flowing in from the banks to repay the government’s bail-outs to reduce the deficit, the president and Congress are converting it to a slush fund to be spent on a variety of new programs. Throw in the fact that no one believes the health care bill will not add to the deficit, and Americans will remember 2009 as the year they loaded huge burdens on their children and grandchildren.”


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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