Jewish World Review Jan. 14, 2003 / 13 Shevat, 5763
Federal incompetence driven by political correctness, not trampling of civil liberties, is what we should fear
If there is another major terrorist attack within the United States, the
various Democratic presidential aspirants hope to profit from it. They have
been accusing President Bush of not doing enough to protect the homeland.
"Washington is not doing enough to make America safe," said Sen. John
Edwards of North Carolina.
"The American people are only slightly safer today here at home than we were
on Sept. 11, 2001," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.
Sen. John Kerry of Massachussetts said Bush had "squandered" the year since
the attacks by failing to make "the preparations necessary to deal with an
obvious problem of growing terror."
There is plenty to criticize in the Bush record on homeland security, but
Bush's principal failing is that he hasn't moved fast enough to reverse
foolish policies put in place by earlier Democratic administrations, which
may explain why Democrats have been long on rhetoric, but short on details
of what they would differently.
The manhunt currently under way for up to 19 Muslim men thought to have
entered the country illegally around Christmas eve emphasizes that far and
away our most important task is to gain control of our borders. The
gargantuan size of the problem is illustrated by the fact that the range of
estimates of the number of people in this country illegally - 10 to 13
million - is greater than the population of Chicago.
To gain control of our borders, there must be a substantial increase in the
number of personnel who guard them, and a change in laws and administrative
rules to expedite deportation of illegals.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Border Patrol, the
agencies principally responsible for protecting our borders, must be at
least doubled, arguably trebled, to give us a reasonable chance to prevent
more illegals and potential terrorists from sneaking into this country, much
less to hunt down illegals already here.
But more important than an increase in manpower and money is a change in
leadership, and removal of restrictions which prevent the conscientious from
doing their jobs properly. Good leadership can make important strides with
inadequate resources. Poor leadership will squander even munificent
The INS is unquestionably the least competent federal agency. These are the
wonderful folks who, months after the attacks on the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon, granted permission for two of the Sept. 11 hijackers to attend
flight schools here. These are the folks who last fall granted U.S.
citizenship to a known terrorist under investigation by the Joint Terrorism
Task Force. These are the folks who ordered the release of Beltway sniper
John Lee Malvo after the Border Patrol had nabbed him on an immigration
violation. These are the folks who lost track of 2,000 resident aliens
wanted for questioning in the wake of Sept. 11. We could protect ourselves
better by flushing money down the toilet than by spending it on the INS
until there is a major change in leadership. Perhaps it will be provided in
the new Department of Homeland Security. We shall see.
The failures of the FBI prior to Sept. 11 have been widely publicized. The
situation is worse than most Americans realize. Few paid attention last
month when FBI Agents Robert Wright and John Vincent said their superiors
had blocked them from opening a criminal investigation of terrorists
suspected of taking part in the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998.
The many journalists who lionized Minneapolis FBI Agent Colleen Rowley and
the few who paid attention to what Wright and Vincent had to say did not
mention the principal reason why the FBI has dropped the ball so often:
Idiotic guidelines put in place by Attorney General Janet Reno in 1995
forbade FBI agents gathering intelligence on terrorists from sharing
information with FBI agents working on criminal cases involving terrorists.
Americans will not be secure until we realize that what we have to fear most
from the federal government is incompetence driven by political correctness,
not a trampling of civil liberties. We need to worry less about hurting the
feelings of terrorists, and more about the harm terrorists can do.
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© 2002, Jack Kelly