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Jewish World Review
August 28, 2006
/ 4 Elul, 5766
Homeland security can't get over the pump
There was a fascinating story in the Chicago Sun-Times the other day. As Stefano Esposito reported: "Mardin Azad Amin found himself in a tight squeeze last week when security at O'Hare Airport discovered a suspicious-looking object in his luggage.
"So, Amin, 29, handled the delicate situation this way: He told security the object was a bomb, Cook County prosecutors say."
In fact, it was a, er, penis pump. But the unfortunate Mardin Azad Amin was traveling to Turkey with his mom and was understandably a little sheepish. So, faced with the potential social embarrassment of being revealed as a pervert, he allegedly preferred to pass himself off as a terrorist. Many of us chaps would do the same in his situation, though one suspects rather fewer, when flying on vacation with our mothers, would pack a penis pump in our hand luggage. I hasten to add I've no idea whether Mrs. Amin took any maternal pride in her son's alleged claim to be a fanatical suicide bomber and even if she had, it would have been tempered by at least a mild irritation at discovering that she was also along for the ride. (One of the guys arrested in Toronto the other week for plotting to behead the Canadian prime minister had a wife who was so eager for him to commit martyrdom operations that she considered having it inserted as a clause in the prenup. But, hot for jihad as she was, her own contribution would have consisted merely of cheering him on from home.) Still, it's a marvelous post-9/11 adaptation of that scene in Austin Powers in which Mike Myers is collecting his personal effects and denies ownership of the penis pump. "Not my bag, baby," as he tells Elizabeth Hurley.
Young Mr. Amin now faces three years in jail for allegedly lying about his ill-fated choice of travel accessory. On the other hand, it's surely only a matter of months before some U.S. court rules that prisoners are entitled under the Geneva Convention to their own penis pumps. By contrast, Muslim men arrested in Denmark for plotting an actual terrorist attack face life imprisonment. In Denmark, life sentences are automatically commuted after 16 years.
Hmm. Three years for a penis pump, 16 years for planning to murder thousands of people.
What happened a week or so back was that a handful of would-be jihadists in London managed to get airline security changed in perpetuity for 300 million Americans, 60 million Britons and anybody who wants to visit them. And we all gave a shrug and barely noticed. I don't know if penis pumps are as yet formally proscribed items. But, if they're not, it can't be long before al-Qaida decides to plant some shoebomber-type on a trans-Atlantic flight and starts training up cadres of Pumpbombers in the Hindu Kush. And, even if the penis pump industry manages to survive, my National Review colleague David Frum calculates that an extra 10 minutes added to the passenger screening process costs the global economy more than $33 billion a year. So, as the Britons and Germans and Danes and Canadians have been doing in recent weeks, we can keep intercepting new terror plots and adding a minute here, a minute there to security procedures to cope with whatever novelties the jihad comes up with.
That's assuming the authorities are allowed to keep intercepting. The method by which Scotland Yard and MI5 uncovered the Heathrow plot monitoring communications between external and domestic phone numbers has now been ruled "unconstitutional" after a case brought by the Michigan branch of the ACLU, which went judge-shopping and happily for them found a judge who'd previously served as trustee of an organization that funds the Michigan ACLU. Quelle surprise, as the French say. Or as they would say if they weren't too busy trying to weasel out of their phony-baloney U.N. peacekeeping gig in Lebanon.
Setting aside her conflict of interest, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor delivered a legal opinion of almost laughable illiteracy that leaves the United States government in the curious position of being able to do more to intercept terrorist plots against foreign countries than against its own. That's to say, on the Heathrow bust, the United States provided some information from communications intercepts to British and Pakistani authorities. If Judge Taylor's ruling stands, if the U.S. government intercepts a call from Islamabad to London about a plot to blow up Big Ben, it can alert the Brits. But, if the U.S. government intercepts a call from Islamabad to New York about a plot to blow up the Chrysler Building, that's entirely unconstitutional and all record of it should be erased. And, given that cell phones with American area codes can be used all around the planet, all the guy in Islamabad would have to do is get one with a 202 or 212 number and he can plot jihad on every continent to his heart's content. One notes that earlier this month five Muslim Americans were arrested in Ohio and Michigan after hundreds of cell phones were found in their cars. But no doubt Taylor will soon uncover a constitutional right to multiple cell phones.
Do you remember John Kerry's approach to terrorism? As he told the New York Times: ''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance. As a former law enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise.''
The average terrorist doesn't take kindly to having the unstoppable march of Islam compared to the decadent infidels' sex industry (though, psychologically, for these guys the jihad seems to serve as the ultimate penis pump). But, that aside, a casual glance at the lavish display ads for ''escort services'' in the Boston Yellow Pages suggests that applying the Kerry Hooker Doctrine to terrorists would leave rather a lot of them in business. The evidence of recent months confirms that, among the Muslim populations of the Western world, there is a not insignificant fifth column in Britain and Europe and a somewhat smaller one in the United States. We need an effective strategy for that. Instead, between longer check-in lines for airline travelers and the worldwide roaming cell phone plan for jihadists, we're mainly punishing ourselves.
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JWR contributor Mark Steyn is North American Editor of The (London) Spectator. Comment by clicking here.
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