Seriously, this sort of nonsense has to stop:
"What I am trying to do in this interview is to make people aware of the fact that the threat is real, the threat is different, the threat is constant," he said.
And the threat is from?
What was uppermost on his mind, however, is the alarming rise in the number of Americans who are more than willing to attack and kill their fellow citizens.
Yes? And who are these Americans? What do they have in common?
"It is one of the things that keeps me up at night," Holder said. "You didn’t worry about this even two years ago — about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we now do. And — that is of — of great concern."
"The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens — raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born," he said.
Hello – what else have they in common? What has “radicalized” them?
In the last 24 months, Holder said, 126 people have been indicted on terrorist-related charges, Fifty of those people are American citizens.
"I think that what is most alarming to me is the totality of what we see, the attorney general said. "Whether it is an attempt to bomb the New York City subway system, an attempt to bring down an airplane over Detroit, an attempt to set off a bomb in Times Square … I think that gives us a sense of the breadth of the challenges that we face, and the kinds of things that our enemy is trying to do."
Holder says many of these converts to al Qaeda have something in common: a link to radical cleric Anwar Al Awlaki, an American citizen himself.
And Al Awlaki and al Qaeda are both driven by what? Al Awlaki is what sort of cleric?
"He’s an extremely dangerous man. He has shown a desire to harm the United States, a desire to strike the homeland of the United States," Holder said. "He is a person who — as an American citizen — is familiar with this country and he brings a dimension, because of that American familiarity, that others do not."
Holder said that as a threat to the United States, Awlaki ranks right up there with Osama bin Laden.
"He would be on the same list with bin Laden," the attorney general said. "He’s up there. I don’t know whether he’s one, two, three, four — I don’t know. But he’s certainly on the list of the people who worry me the most."
Yes, yes and what is the common thread between Awlaki, bin Laden, al Qaeda and the people who keep Holder up at night?
"I have to have all those tools available to me to try to keep the American people safe, and to do the job that I’m supposed to do as a 21st century attorney general," Holder said.
Holder said the United States has made great strides in improving its ability to detect and block attacks, which is shown by the number of would-be terrorists who have been stopped before they could kill Americans. The intelligence community is working around the clock, he said, with little time off.
Well acknowledging that every single one of the “terrorists” or “radicals” among the 50 or so apprehended this year was Muslim or a convert to Islam might go a long way in identifying the threat. Osama bin Laden, Al Awlaki and the 50 Americans all have in common their brand of radical Islam. Al Qaeda didn’t just pop up because it thought it would be fun to target and kill Americans, it exists because its followers believe in a radical brand of Islam that instructs them to make war against infidels. And America is considered the infidel of infidel nations. Ergo, it is their primary target.
Without the underlying thread of their radical beliefs, they have no real reason to attack us. But, acknowledging that all 50 of the “Americans” were Muslim and the fact that all 126 arrested shared that same radical faith would mean acknowledging that Muslims are 100% of the problem. Can’t do that and search granny at the airport (in the name of fairness)can we? Can’t do that and risk the charge of “profiling” – something we absolutely ought to be doing until circumstance or evidence lead us to do otherwise.
Why is it we’ll subject our own citizens to degrading, humiliating and intrusive searches of their person at airports and yet we won’t do the logical thing necessary to actually protect our citizenry? Profiling is done everyday in law enforcement – just ask about how serial killers are identified. When a description of a perpetrator is circulated, it will have the perp’s gender, race and age. That is profiling data which helps narrow the search.
To this point we haven’t had a non-Muslim attacker try to blow any of us up. Why are we so shy about saying that “radical Islam” is the problem, and until they prove otherwise, the larger set of Muslims in the US are a potential threat? How do you argue otherwise given the evidence?
Does that mean we should go on a witch hunt within the American Muslim community? Of course not – but, we shouldn’t avoid the fact that the threat has consistently and exclusively come from that community and that until it stops, they’ll be views suspiciously, watched closely and receive the most scrutiny.
But we won’t. Just as Eric Holder spent an entire interview avoiding the use of the words “Muslim” or “Islam”, we’ll continue to eschew the obvious and doing what is logical for the appearance of being “fair”. Apparently fairness, not security, is our nation’s highest priority – at least for now.
Fareed Zakaria provides the second installment in how terrorists win (the example of the Met deciding not to show art depicting the prophet Mohammed being the first):
In responding to the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day, Sen. Dianne Feinstein voiced the feelings of many when she said that to prevent such situations, “I’d rather overreact than underreact.” This appears to be the consensus view in Washington, but it is quite wrong. The purpose of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction. Its real aim is not to kill the hundreds of people directly targeted but to sow fear in the rest of the population. Terrorism is an unusual military tactic in that it depends on the response of the onlookers. If we are not terrorized, then the attack didn’t work. Alas, this one worked very well.
He is exactly right. Terrorism is all about effecting change through the threat of or use of violence. It is a tool of the weak that can be devastatingly effective if those at whom it is aimed overreact. The aim may be political change. The aim may be economic change. Or terrorists may be satisfied with any change they can effect through their actions which makes life miserable for those at whom it is aimed. As Zakaria points out, given our response, the latest terrorist failure is, in fact, a win. We’re jumping through our collective arses trying to react to the threat and pretty much settling on making air travel more miserable for everyone.
Overreacting to terrorist attacks plays into al-Qaeda’s hands. It also provokes responses that are likely to be large-scale, expensive, ineffective and possibly counterproductive. More screening for every passenger makes no sense. When searching for needles in haystacks, adding hay doesn’t help. What’s needed is a larger, more robust watch list that is instantly available to all relevant government agencies. Almost 2 million people travel on planes in the United States every day. We need to isolate the tiny percentage of suspicious characters and search them, not cause needless fear in everyone else.
We know, to this point the one common thread that links these “needles” and separates them from the “hay”. But we continue to resist using that as a discriminator as we refine our security searches because, apparently, discrimination (aka “profiling”) is a much worse political sin than getting airliners with 300 souls on board blown out of the sky.
It simply defies common sense.