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Wednesday, January 11, 2006
  9/11Style Tragedy Not Allowed To Be Prevented
Ever since Sept. 11, critics have been insisting that the U.S. government remedy the blind spots that led to the attacks. That was the ostensible purpose of the Sept. 11 commission and most of its recommendations did indeed conform to such goals. Yet every effort to "connect the dots" since has been met with opposition by the very same critics.

The recent wiretapping controversy is a case in point.

Last month, the New York Times broke the story that the National Security Agency has been listening in on the electronic communications of al Qaeda operatives in America. And the debate has been raging ever since. The problem is, the story turns out not to have been quite the shocker the Times intended.

For one thing, congressional leaders were informed about the surveillance and seemed to have had few qualms about it at the time. The monitored calls were international in origin, a fact conveniently overlooked by those still labeling it a "domestic spying program." Constitutionally speaking, such actions are in fact within the power of the executive branch, as a recent Justice Department communication makes clear.

The intelligence that led to the surveillance was gleaned from computers, cell phones and phone books belonging to captured al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah and picked up during a CIA operation in Pakistan in 2002. Similarly, the capture of al Qaeda operations chief and Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Pakistan in 2003 produced a treasure trove of information regarding al Qaeda contacts in America. It would have been beyond negligent for the government to ignore such solid leads. If confirmed members of al Qaeda residing in the United States, whether citizens or not, do not make for appropriate surveillance targets, then who does?

When all is said and done, the uproar over the wiretapping controversy will likely turn out to be nothing more than yet another example of partisan politics. All the talk of impeachment and comparing Bush to Nixon is simply that, talk. Never one to let facts get in the way of an opportunity for Bush-bashing, the opposition has already added the story to their canon of talking points. Like those before it, it will live on as fact in the minds of those disinclined to search out the truth. The naysayers are so consumed with their hatred of George W. Bush that they're actually willing to give away the country's defenses to defeat him. They don't seem to understand that by weakening America, they weaken themselves. The idea that one's way of life will simply continue uninterrupted despite the aggression of a fascistic movement is willful blindness at its worst.

This war was declared on America with the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. In the 22 years between then and Sept. 11, the U.S. government and intelligence services reacted essentially by not reacting. Threats were ignored, countless attacks went unanswered, blatant hostility was disregarded, turf wars superseded intelligence work and political correctness reigned supreme. The fact that Able Danger, a U.S. Army intelligence program, had Sept. 11 ringleader Mohamed Atta and the Brooklyn cell in its sights and was unable to act because of such constraints is evidence of this failure.
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