Jewish World Review May 29, 2002 / 18 Sivan, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | I've had it with all these government reports on terrorism that keep popping into the news, Hallmark-like, to suit any occasion. I've had it with investigations -- blue ribbon, gold medal or otherwise. These are the playthings of peacetime, and we are at war. It's just that our heads are in the sand.
That must explain why the State Department, according to the newsweekly Human Events, has issued over 50,000 temporary visas to visitors from Middle Eastern countries (excluding Israel) since Sept. 11. That must explain why the Transportation Department, according to USA Today, still fails to screen "little, if any" cargo carried by passenger planes. That must explain why the Bush administration still refers to Saudi Arabia, that repressive enabler and supporter of Wahhabist terrorism everywhere, as "our good friend," and why airline security singles out the congressman with the game leg, the jut-jawed anchorette and the middle-aged psychology professor for a more invasive frisk. "Do I look like a terrorist?" one such prof named Judith Kleinfeld, writing in a newspaper column, recalled saying as a uniformed guard led her away. His response: "Are you telling me we should be doing racial profiling?" All-together now: yes.
The Democratic Party inserted its own collective head into sandy depths last week when it seized on the missed cues of last summer, bellowed "gotcha!" and made time-travel plans to the past via imaginary subpoenas, searching for a White House paper trail to Sept. 11. But hindsight can wait; it's the future that threatens us. After witnessing that ever-so-Jacobinic clamor for investigations into the walk-up to the attacks, you get the feeling Democrats on the Hill think of Sept. 11 as the story's ending -- not its beginning.
Of course, investigationists argue we need to study up and make sure we know how to prevent Sept. 11 from happening again. Guess what? We already know. What is unnerving is the light-dawneth-ing realization that we may not have what it takes to prevent another attack.
The horrifying fact is, the dear old Bush Doctrine seems to have yielded to a Grand Strategy of Denial. First, there is the denial that we can do anything about the appalling threats that officials now routinely -- and, after last week's singeing political bonfires -- perhaps spitefully -- admit exist all around, from the Statue of Liberty to the local mall. Such talk sounds as if a bunker mentality is the only fruit of our freedom. The FBI director asserts we are defenseless targets for suicide bombers. Even Rumsfeld the Great was less than magnificent this week when riffing on the new White House "when-not-if" theme of future attacks, regarding an acute probability of nuclear, chemical or biological terrorism. I kept waiting for him to extend the protective shield of the Pentagon -- something like: "Let me assure you, gentlemen, that should this ever occur, there will be hell to pay for the terrorists and their state-sponsors ... " But he didn't. Which left us all out in the cold, checking our backs and maybe mumbling a little.
Of course, you haven't gone completely crazy until you cruise through the State Department's new report on global terrorism, one of those serial studies in bloodless bureacratese that must infuse the professionals with a sense of accomplishment as they file it away on the office shelf. What it most notably shows -- besides the post-plain, nose-on-your-face fact that anti-Western terrorism poses a dire threat to civilization -- is that Colin Powell and the diplocrat crowd refuse to wake up and smell the perfidy of Yasser Arafat. Not only does the report absolve Arafat of responsibility for terrorism against Israel last year, it blames Israel itself for damaging Arafat's "security structure" -- all too much of which has been terrorism-tolerant, if not downright involved.
Nonetheless, according to the State Department's twisty argument, it is Israel that bears a responsibility for what the State Department sees as Arafat's would-if-he-could failure to end the killing. This takes denial to new levels of delusion. Meanwhile, in a little-cited bonus, the report also notes the infiltration of Hamas and Hezbollah activists into seven Latin American countries, from Paraguay to Panama.
What can we, the people, do? Face the facts our government is avoiding. Call for a moratorium on visas for visitors from terrorist-riddled countries, and for emergency, remedial help for the immigration service. Call for massive changes at the Transportation Department, where Secretary Norman Mineta imposes a dadaistic and dangerous policy that prohibits screeners from "profiling" Middle Eastern passengers. I'm beginning to be persuaded by experts who argue for a military withdrawal from Saudi Arabia -- which won't permit us to use our own bases anyway, either for attacking Iraq or celebrating Christmas (prohibited during the Gulf War).
Who knows? Maybe we should be thinking about mobilizing a civilian Homeland Security force to help patrol Lady Liberty and other landmarks. After all, they stand for American freedom, not American
JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.