Alexander's Column

Taking the battle to the enemy

Mark Alexander · Sep. 28, 2001

President George W. Bush showed extraordinary leadership in formulating our external and internal response to the Jihadi threat. He acted well within the parameters of great statesmanship – determining friend and foe and authorizing our nation’s specialized military and intelligence assets to begin the long and arduous task of overturning every stone in “Jihadistan” – that borderless nation of Islamic extremists with global reach – and killing every terrorist cockroach found thereunder.

“The American people must understand this war on terrorism will be fought on a number of fronts, in different ways,” said the president. “The front lines will look different from the wars of the past.”

Though accountability for the September 11 2001 attack on our nation falls at the feet of Osama bin Laden, reliable intelligence sources indicate that he had significant support from Iraqi intelligence and logistical support from terrorist fronts in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt – who still have operational assets on U.S. soil.

President Bush was appropriately deliberate in determining our method of attack and choice of targets – avoiding noncombatants while inflicting maximum pain and suffering on combatants and their rear echelons of support. The President chose to implement our most effective means of redress based on the cold and calculated Israeli model – insertion of small special forces units to quietly bleed out anyone aligned with bin Laden. The rules of engagement were “unrestricted in contact with verifiable combatants,” but eliminating Osama and the generations of Jihadi combatants who will follow, may take generations.

We have initiated the lengthy process of exterminating other agents of destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan and Libya. “The only way to deal with [terrorism] is to go after the terrorists … and we must also go after the nations that are harboring and financing and supporting and facilitating and tolerating these terrorists,” said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Jihadistan has declared open war on the West – and will not rest until all have been converted to Islam – or left for dead. All the domestic precautions imaginable may inhibit some acts of terror – but they will not stop them all. The only method to contain the risk of that threat is to prejudicially eliminate its source – very difficult to accomplish but much more effective as a mitigating factor than homeland defense. We must make no distinction between the terrorists and the states that support them – and crush every discernible component of these networks. If you want to eradicate roaches, you kill all of them – leave none behind to spawn a new generation.

We must answer terror with terror – and answer with greater volume. We were reminded of a great line from the film “The Untouchables” when copper Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery) says: “You wanna get Capone? Here’s how you get him. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue! That’s the Chicago way!” Bin Laden has killed thousands of Americans. We must send him and anybody who has ever drawn a breath in support of his cause to the morgue. That’s the Jihad way.

Success will require a significant allocation of manpower and resources for many years. The current deployment of Special Forces has all the trademarks of Ronald Reagan’s determination – hit them back harder and scatter them like the rats they are. Let them know that the price for attacking the world’s engine of liberty is sudden death.

Mr. Bush is also correct to keep our ultimate objective front and center – to support liberty and freedom for those peoples now suffering under the tyrannical thumb of oppressive regimes like the Taliban, while exterminating these extremist Islamic vermin wherever they are holed up – a “bullets and bread” campaign.

Attorney General John Ashcroft has been on Capitol Hill arguing for new homeland investigative powers for the FBI and CIA. “Technology has dramatically outpaced our statutes,” said Mr. Ashcroft. “Law enforcement tools created decades ago were crafted for rotary telephones, not e-mail, the Internet, mobile communications and voice mail. The American people do not have the luxury of unlimited time in erecting the necessary defenses to future acts. Terrorism is a clear and present danger to Americans today.” However, Mr. Ashcroft was careful to say, “There is absolutely no guarantee that [enhanced investigative powers] would have avoided the September 11 occurrence.”

Now, our veteran readers know that The Patriot rallies first around our Constitution before anything else. While most of the legislative changes Mr. Ashcroft is seeking to broaden the domestic investigative powers of the FBI and CIA are reasonable, they also broaden, collaterally, the potential for central government abuses. Ultra-leftist Rep. Maxine Waters joined conservative champion of liberty Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia to express concern for how the new powers might further erode our dwindling civil liberties.

“What we must avoid is the impulse to hastily approve wholesale changes to search and seizure, surveillance, immigration and other laws in an understandable but misguided attempt to thwart future attacks,” Mr. Barr said. “Our immediate reaction must not be to blindly expand law enforcement’s investigative authority, or the government’s prosecutorial authority, without at least first engaging in a serious deliberative effort to examine how and why execution of current authority was not successful.”

President Bush, Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Rumsfeld have all stated publicly that we must not react to the events of September 11 by moving our nation towards a “police state.” We concur!

While we will be watching the Hill debate closely, another development with more serious implications for American liberties is Mr. Bush’s nomination of Gov. Tom Ridge to fill the new cabinet level post of Director of the Office of Homeland Security – the man who will convert the U.S. into one big “gated community.” The new “security czar” post – essentially an adaptation of recommendations from Bill Clinton’s “Commission On National Security in the 21st Century” – should give all American patriots pause.

The announcement took our well-placed sources in the White House by surprise – they estimate it was a last minute decision. Indeed, the White House text of the President’s speech, posted the night he gave it, made no reference to “Homeland Security,” and the full text, as delivered, made only scant reference to it.

The President noted that while “[Ridge] will lead, oversee and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism, and respond to any attacks that may come … the only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows.” The president’s correct assertion that “the only way to defeat terrorism … is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows” raises a serious question about the need for the new Office of Homeland Security.

Gov. Ridge’s department will be tasked with coordinating the counterterrorism efforts of more than 40 federal agencies, and have responsibilities related to airport and airline security, immigration policy, and the protection of transportation, power and food distribution systems. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency is perfectly positioned to provide the “coordination” efforts assigned to the new Homeland Agency. As FEMA is already statutorily authorized to serve as an “emergency coordinating agency” for the central government, and since that authority could be readily modified to include the homeland security function, what need for a homeland security czar?

Obviously, this appointment is intent upon the preservation of domestic liberty. But it is misguided in that it also represents the potential for substantial abuse of that liberty by some future administration. Both the establishment of this agency – and the appointment of Tom Ridge to head it – represent the only errors in the president’s handling of this crisis – but they are serious errors.

For the record, Tom Ridge has broken with the doctrine of his faith, in that he is a “pro-choice Catholic” (oxymoron), leading one to question how closely he will adhere to constitutional doctrine. Mr. Ridge has certainly broken with conservative doctrine. As a member of Congress while Ronald Reagan was in office, he voted for the so-called “nuclear freeze” and Pat Schroeder’s plan to bar nuclear tests above one kiloton, to abolish the MX missile, to deny funding for the Nicaraguan Contras, and he led the charge against missile defense.

Memo to President Bush: We do not need to wrap ourselves so tightly in our flag that our liberties can no longer breathe. Sunset this post as soon as it has determined the parameters of necessary security coordination. Then turn those functions over to FEMA and give them clearly defined – read “limited” – statutory authority.

And as we alerted you last week, among the worst proposals being floated as protection against terror is the national identification card, which last made a national appearance when Bill Clinton displayed it as the guarantor of universal access to health care. It has also been lauded as the solution to illegal immigration. We suppose its adherents would love to claim it cures halitosis and hangnails, too … if they thought they could sell that much snake oil.

But consider how easily teenagers obtain fraudulent or borrowed ID cards to beat age restrictions for drinking alcohol. More chilling, consider how easily the September 11 terror hijackers obtained driver’s licenses in Florida. And on Tuesday, an Arlington, Virginia, man was charged with federal crimes for assisting five of the terrorists in obtaining fraudulent driver’s licenses and identification cards; nine people in Missouri, Michigan and Washington were arrested for obtaining fraudulent Pennsylvania commercial licenses to transport hazardous materials. Any national ID, no matter how constructed, would eventually be counterfeited or circumvented – and the false sense of security possession of such ID cards convey, could be very dangerous.

A national ID is beloved of central planners everywhere, as the tool of tyranny. It would result in central government dossiers amassed on all citizens, and worse yet, it would not yield any of the benefits claimed for it. Fortunately, President Bush has ruled out the idea – for now.

And a couple of closing notes on the scene…. To all you Leftmedia talkingheads cluttering the airwaves with speculation about “trigger-happy” Air Force pilots just itching to take down a civilian aircraft – give it a rest – unless, of course, you are talking about CUBAN air force pilots. And regarding those long lines at airport security check-in, where knitting needles and ball-point pens are being confiscated before boarding planes where plastic forks are no longer available – attention K-Mart shoppers! Do you know how many parts of your cabin seat can be used as a weapon. Stepped up security is fine, but well funded intelligence and night raids are the only thing that will reduce the probability of terrorism. We encourage our fellow Americans to get on board, and, based on lessons past, in the unlikely event that someone attempts to kick in the cockpit door on your flight, take them down – before they take you down!

One more thing…. Regarding Robert Novak’s claim that the “FBI had advance indications of plans to hijack U.S. airliners and use them as weapons, but neither acted on them nor distributed the intelligence to local police agencies,” hindsight is always 20/20. Several pieces of evidence among a few hundred thousand 1995 evidence folders, may, in retrospect, be linked to the 2001 assault on New York and Washington. Not making that connection many years in advance does not, necessarily, indicate incompetence, duplicity or conspiracy. You are stirring the wrong pot, Mr. Novak.

To that end, a member of The Federalist Editorial Board was reminded that in a 1993 national security briefing following the bombing of the World Trade Center, he concluded that the next time Islamic extremists return to New York, it would be in the air. Of course, a few THOUSAND other plausible scenarios have been reviewed since then.