Jewish World Review June 7, 2002/ 27 Sivan, 5762

Wesley Pruden

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Looking for thugs where they aren't | Let's see if we've got this straight:

The FBI director admits that his agents could do a better job of catching terrorists if they looked in the logical places, but they won't be allowed to look in the logical places because that might look like racial profiling. That could hurt somebody's feelings.

"I've seen indications of concerns about taking certain action, because that action may be perceived as profiling," Robert Mueller, a k a Feerless Fosdick, told the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is going through the motions of finding out why the FBI and the CIA were asleep, or worse, in the weeks and months leading up to September 11.

One of his crack Phoenix operatives, who didn't know any better than to think thwarting terror was a good thing to do, wanted to pursue the curious phenomenon last summer of Arab men taking lessons in how to take off but not necessarily land airliners. "A person who was involved in the process articulated that as a possible concern," Mr. Mueller said. (This is how Feerless Fosdick learned to talk after he joined the feds.)

But that might have hurt some feelings down at the mosque, so the flying students were not to be distracted from their studies. Three thousand dead Americans might seem a high price to pay for runaway political correctness anywhere else, but we're smarter in Washington.

And if Islamist terrorists have any follow-up plans, Osama bin Laden shouldn't worry. Mr. Mueller told the senators that any of his agents with big ideas about stopping another outrage have got the message. The FBI, he said, "is against, has been and will be against any form of profiling."

Even that was not enough for Sen. Russell Feingold, the correcter-than-thou Democrat from Wisconsin. He insisted on knowing whether Mr. Mueller thinks his Phoenix agent was naughty for wanting to look among Arab men for suspected Arab men. Mr. Mueller was reluctant at first to criticize his agent's common-sensical initiative.

"I cannot put myself in that context," he told Sen. Feingold, still in fluent bureauspeak. "All I can say is it was a concern to that individual."

Mr. Feingold, who no doubt imagines himself safe behind the orange cones, concrete barriers, cops, closed streets, aides, bevies of svelte 90-pound secretaries and other obstacles our senators have erected to make themselves safe from the risks ordinary women and children take, said Mr. Mueller's answer "troubled" him.

"I was hoping for a different answer," he told Mr. Mueller. "I was hoping for you to say that, clearly, what was needed there was not some sort of an exception from a rule against racial profiling." Mr. Mueller retreated smartly, with an answer he could only hope was grovel enough: "If the question is, do I believe that that was a valid concern, no."

Mr. Feingold wanted a full grovel. Fear of using common sense "may very well be a distortion, maybe even a deliberate distortion," the senator told him, "to distract attention from real mistakes or to cast aspersions on responsible and still necessary efforts to eliminate racial profiling in our country."

The FBI director, who has real problems to correct in the FBI bureaucracy, was only a pawn yesterday, used by a senator who knows very well that he is full of it. He's one of the most skillful profilers in America. When he sets out to raise the millions of dollars he needs to keep his seat in the Senate he instructs his fund-raisers to profile carefully: they're not to waste their time selling a senator to someone without the means of paying for a senator. Besides, a terrorist, fitting the Islamist profile or not, is not likely to light a bomb under a senator, since in the currency of Islamist paradise a senator wouldn't be worth more than a second-hand virgin or two.

The FBI agent who set off the investigation with her memo outlining the obstructions placed in the way of the investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui, believed to have been "the 20th hijacker," told the Judiciary Committee that Mr. Mueller's problem is an "ever-growing bureaucracy" that stifles initiative.

"Mistakes are inevitable," Coleen Rowley told a crowded committee room and a nationwide television audience. "But a distinction can and should be drawn between those mistakes made when trying to do the right thing and those mistakes due to selfish motives."

The "ever-growing bureaucracy," encouraged by politically correct silly-talk by senators like Russ Feingold, might not have prevented September 11, the connecting of the dots, in the cliche of the moment. But the notion that cops, including federal cops, can't look for suspects where common sense tells them to look, invites another national catastrophe. When that happens, senators choking on political correctness will be ready with their theatrical tears and warmed-over piety.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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