Saturday, August 12, 2006

Anti-Terrorism and the Democratic Party

I had an appointment yesterday afternoon, and following that my son and I had dinner down in Huntington Beach, at Ruby's Diner on the pier. I therefore haven't had much time to absorb the news and opinion surrounding the liquid-bomb plot broken up Thursday by Scotland Yard. I did read, however, Friday's lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal, which provides a nice synopsis of the relationship between London's successful anti-terror operation and the domestic political debate in the U.S. over American security policy. Here's the introduction:

Americans went to work yesterday to news of another astonishing terror plot against U.S. airlines, only this time the response was grateful relief. British authorities had busted the "very sophisticated" plan "to commit mass murder" and arrested 20-plus British-Pakistani suspects. As we approach the fifth anniversary of 9/11 without another major attack on U.S. soil, now is the right moment to consider the policies that have protected us--and those in public life who have fought those policies nearly every step of the way.

It's not as if the "Islamic fascists"--to borrow President Bush's description yesterday--haven't been trying to hit us. They took more than 50 lives last year in London with the "7/7" subway bombings. There was the catastrophic attack in Madrid the year before that left nearly 200 dead. But there have also been successes. Some have been publicized, such as a foiled plot to poison Britain's food supply with ricin. But undoubtedly many have not, because authorities don't want to compromise sources and methods, or because the would-be terrorists have been captured or killed before they could carry out their plans.

In this case the diabolical scheme was to smuggle innocent-looking liquid explosive components and detonators onto planes. They could then be assembled onboard and exploded, perhaps over cities for maximum horror. Multiply the passenger load of a 747 by, say, 10 airliners, and this attack could have killed more people than 9/11. We don't yet know how the plot was foiled, but surely part of the explanation was crack surveillance work by British authorities.

"This wasn't supposed to happen today," a U.S. official told the Washington Post of the arrests and terror alert. "It was supposed to happen several days from now. We hear the British lost track of one or two guys. They had to move." Meanwhile, British antiterrorism chief Peter Clarke said at a news conference that the plot was foiled because "a large number of people" had been under surveillance, with police monitoring "spending, travel and communications."

Let's emphasize that again: The plot was foiled because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications. Which leads us to wonder if Scotland Yard would have succeeded if the ACLU or the New York Times had first learned the details of such surveillance programs.
Be sure to read the remainder of the article. This piece absolutely hits the bulls-eye on the Democrats' antiwar and anti-security pathologies, seen here in their lock-step opposition to the very policies that are successfullly preventing catastrophic attacks on a scale not seen since September 11, 2001. Numerous commentators on Fox News last night referenced WSJ's quote above lambasting the ACLU and the New York Times for their campaign of hindrance against the the Bush administration's intelligence programs.
Daniel Henninger's "Wonderland" article yesterday in WSJ is also noteworthy, arguing that the Dems "knifed" Joe Liebeman Wednesday with their open-armed commitment to Ned Lamont, the victor in Tuesday's Connecticut Democratic senatorial primary.

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