Who is the real enemy? The Islamic fanatics who plotted to blow up airplanes carrying thousands of innocent men, women and children, or President Bush?
My answer is the terrorists. They want to kill me, my family and my neighbors. According to officials, they wanted to blow up at least one jumbo jet en route from London to San Francisco.
Some folks have responded to the news of the British arrests by saying that, of course, they are against the terrorists. But they follow that compulsory disclaimer with a long anti-Bush rant which is a handy way of removing the heat from where it belongs. U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., intoned, "This latest plot demonstrates the need for the Bush administration and the Congress to change course in Iraq." In so speaking, Reid mistakes the terrorists' bloodlust for a political philosophy.
(I hate to repeat this but: The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks happened before Iraq. The embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania happened before Iraq.)
The New York Times editorialized for a whole two paragraphs about how bad the terrorists are then dedicated the rest of its lead Friday editorial lambasting the Bushies and their war-on-terrorism ally Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., for being partisan.
The Chronicle sniped that Bush' "claims of cooperation might have been more credible if he hadn't been getting briefed about the British arrests during a ranch vacation in Crawford, Texas." One little problem: British Prime Minister Tony Blair was vacationing at the time in Barbados.
Both papers rightly lauded British officials for a successful roundup of plot suspects. The Times suggested that it is now proper "to find out what worked in the British investigation and discuss how to push these efforts farther."
I don't wish to detract from the Metropolitan Police's top-drawer performance last week, but this might be the place to inject the fact that the British enjoy fewer civil liberties than Americans enjoy. British officials can wiretap without a court order. Under Blair, the British government extended police powers so that authorities can arrest and detain terrorism suspects for up to 28 days Blair had asked for 90 days without having to press charges. Imagine the howls of rage that would be heard in Washington if Bush proposed such a package.
That said, homeland security expert Bob Ayers of Chatham House, a London-based foreign affairs think tank, does not believe the British's lack of habeas corpus made the difference in this episode. The British Foreign Office has credited Pakistan for uncovering intelligence on this terror network. Ayers noted, "Pakistani interrogation techniques are not subject to the same civil-rights legislation" found in America or the European convention. In other words, torture could have made the difference.
For me, the most heartbreaking element in this story is London's reappearance in the terrorism front. I don't think there is a more aggressively multicultural city than London. Yet after the July 7, 2005, London bombings and failed shoe-bomber Richard Reid's apprehension in 2001, once again the United Kingdom has fostered violent fanatics who want to kill British people.
A recent British poll found that 22 percent of British Muslims surveyed and a scary 31 percent of young Muslims believe the July 2005 bombings, which killed 52 commuters, were justified. Clearly, while multiculturalism has many benefits, the United Kingdom's impassioned culture of inclusion has failed to staunch Islamic fanaticism and the Left should take note. It also doesn't help, as Ayers noted, that the British political asylum system welcomes immigrants, and then hooks them up with a welfare system that bankrolls men "who sit around all day at the mosque cursing the foreign policy of the nation they live in."
It is high time to stop making excuses for these zealots. They see the values that make America and Britain strong and good, and they want to annihilate them.