Jewish World Review June 26, 2002 / 16 Tamuz, 5762

Stanley Crouch

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Glimpses of threats fortify U.S. | We seem to be having a small portion of luck developing an effective and resilient structure to maintain homeland security. Such luck is not to be sneered at. Had things been another way, we would not be inclined to understand just how difficult it is to innovate within bureaucracies and to provide services that have no real precedent.

One aspect of luck is that some guy in a private plane gets out of his flight pattern and proves that our fighter jets assigned to protect the White House have not been efficiently deployed.

Had that flier been a terrorist, he would have had his day in flames. We would be mourning whomever was killed in the White House, and there would be shouts and denials of incompetence. The nation and the world would be shaken up, and those who run other countries would be snickering or condescending behind closed doors.

"Didn't those American lunkheads know that either the White House or the Senate was the target of the hijacked plane that went down in Pennsylvania NINE months ago?" they would ask. "How sloppy can you get?" they would continue.

As it now stands, there will have to be 24-hour guards with Stinger rocket launchers on the roof of the White House and the surrounding buildings. Good. We got through that one with no more than some lambasting in offices and over the telephone rather than national and international lamentation.

Even though they were not the terrorists that they might have been, the FBI tells us, the two "Middle Eastern men" who tried to buy an ambulance in New Jersey with cash woke everyone up to another threat.

We now realize that whatever precautions possible should be taken to avoid being fooled by phony ambulance drivers who could easily get through police blockades to do their murderous work.

In an interview with Mohammad Javed Qureshi, the employee of our alleged "dirty bomb" plotter, some very pertinent things were said. Javed was born abroad but looks at America as his country now. He told an interviewer that, as a responsible citizen, he had called the police as soon as he saw Jose Padilla's picture and told them everything he knew about the man accused of planning to set off an explosion that would spread nuclear material.

Javed said that this was too serious a time for people to play around with these things. It was his feeling that the American Muslim community should do as much as it can to aid in apprehending any terrorists who remain in our midst. They are a danger to all of us, he concluded.

He is right, and aggressive pressure should be kept on American Muslims so that those who know something but have kept their mouths shut will start talking. Under enough heat, we might see their loyalty shift from the criminals underground to their American communities.

So far, we've had some luck. Hopefully, there also has been a lot of learning.

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JWR contributor and cultural icon Stanley Crouch is a columnist for The New York Daily News. He is the author of, among others, The All-American Skin Game, Or, the Decoy of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994,       Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives, and Don't the Moon Look Lonesome: A Novel in Blues and Swing. Send your comments by clicking here.


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