Alexander's Column

Six-month report

Mark Alexander · Mar. 15, 2002

Monday commemorated the half-year mark since the 9-11 terrorist attacks that left our country stunned and shaken – but resolutely determined to fight back. “Shortly after, during the first day, I realized that your loved ones gave us the example on which we would build,” former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said in marking the day. And in Skanksville, Pennsylvania, services remembered Flight 93 and the 40 passengers and airline crew members who rose up against their plane’s terrorist hijackers, including dedication of a marker inscribed: “This memorial is in memory of the brave men and women who gave their lives to save so many others. Their courage and love of our country will be a source of strength and comfort to our great nation.”

As The Federalist noted at the time, the most perilous time for our nation would be the six months following 9-11 as we surged military and intelligence capabilities for anti-terror self-defense. We noted, however, that it would take years to restore the capabilities gutted by the Clinton administration. That not withstanding, President George W. Bush’s war against Jihadistan around the world continued racking up steady successes, and reliable sources have informed us that there have been at least two significant interdictions of domestic terrorist initiatives by Islamic cells – the details of which remain classified so as not to compromise ongoing counterterrorist operations. (One might conclude that the “dirty bomb” scare in New York – the one that even the FBI did not hear about – may account for one interdiction.)

Rounding out nearly two weeks of slackening ground combat, our military forces and allies took the high ground in Operation Anaconda, blasting cave entrances and attempting to block and capture fleeing al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. Hundreds of Jihadis chose death over surrender. “It’s quite a surprise to our enemies that my boys are up there at 10,000 feet, chasing them down,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Grippe of the rugged mountain combat he deemed “a light-infantry fight” well-suited to our warriors from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division and 101st Airborne Air Assault units. Lt. Col. David Gray, an operations officer of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division, added, “What we have done is denied al Qaeda of its most important, well-trained fighters.”

Searches of abandoned caves have discovered al Qaeda training manuals, bomb-making equipment and other useful intelligence on the global-reach terrorist network – prosecution of those networks will take time. “This war is far from over,” noted Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “If we capture Osama bin Laden tomorrow, this war would still go on, in my estimation, for years.” Gen. Myers further warned that the 9-11 hijacked airliners were simply al Qaeda’s first acknowledged “weapons of mass destruction,” and that bin Laden’s Jihadis are pressing for more deadly chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

The concern, as The Federalist has often reminded, is the nexus between the terror network for operations and nations possessing weapons of mass destruction for supplies! Of chief concern are “axis of evil” countries like Iraq, including compelling reports of ongoing contacts between such Jihadis as lead 9-11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence officers. To take the temperature of anti-terror ally nations about preemption of these threats, President Bush has dispatched Vice President Dick Cheney off on a globe trot. “There is huge published, compelling evidence about Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime’s complicity in the production of weapons of mass destruction,” Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw remarked as Mr. Cheney touched down first in the UK.

And speaking of Iraqi threats of duplicitous inhumanity, credible reports surfaced this week that formerly classified KIA Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher is alive and has been held captive in Iraq for over 10 years. Cmdr. Speicher, whose F-18 Hornet was shot down over Iraq on the first day of Desert Storm, January 17, 1991, was not among the 21 U.S. POWs returned at the cessation of hostilies, nor was his body recovered from his jet’s crash site west of Baghdad.

For his part, Saddam Hussein said of the emerging evidence that Bush(43) is going to finish what Bush(41) left undone: “They don’t scare us.” Apparently Saddam did not get the memo that the smart bombs have gotten a lot wiser and the bunker busters a lot better! Let’s roll…!

On this side of the big pond, a six month review of our surged Homeland Defense capabilities revealed serious deficiencies. Alarming weaknesses in defensive measures…. A Chicago security review of almost 4,100 airport workers with access to supposedly “secure” air terminal areas turned up 167 workers who failed fingerprint and background checks for criminal histories – a security risk of more than 4 percent of the employees at Chicago’s two major airports. (Suspected crimes uncovered through the cross-checks included murder, extortion and kidnapping, although further review may determine some of these criminal allegations unfounded.)

Even worse, though, border security is still hole-y as a sieve – and likely to get worse instead of better, because of politically correct and politically expedient Hispandering! Under arm-cracking pressure from the Bush administration and complicity of the Republican leadership, the House of Representatives Tuesday passed a six-month extension of Section 245(i), permitting illegal immigrants to pay a $1,000 fee to avoid repatriation and associated stringent background checks of suspected criminal or terrorist links. The final House vote of 275 to 137 was a mere one vote over the two-thirds needed to pass this “regularization” (AKA “amnesty”) for illegal immigrants now working in the U.S. (You’ve gotta pay close attention to those one-vote margins!)

The controversial amnesty measure had been slated to come up under a special arrangement placing it on the so-called “suspension” or “consent” calendar, among a batch of uncontroversial bills expected to win pro forma approval without amendment or debate – or a recorded vote. Friend of The Federalist and California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher exclaimed, “The parliamentary shenanigans we are witnessing today to try to get this legislation through to extend amnesty through to these illegal aliens is unworthy of this body, this representative body, and is bound to confuse our constituents.” Fortunately, another friend (and after this week a hero) of The Federalist, Colorado Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, led the charge for on-the-record voting on a measure clearly and adamantly opposed by a substantial majority of the people of the U.S.

Rep. Tancredo rightly observed that passing the 245(i) extension as a purported “border security addition” is both an offense against common sense and “a slap in the face to all in the world who are waiting to come into the country legally. It tells those who waited and came to us legally that, ‘You all are a bunch of suckers. You should just have sneaked in. We will not trace you down. Stay under the radar screen, and we will give you amnesty.’ That’s the message this sends.” (A recent GAO study offers a severe indictment of the amnesty vote, as fully 90 percent of an initial analysis of Los Angeles area immigration applications were found to be fraudulent. Even worse, a follow-up investigation found fraud in all but one of 1,500 such immigration petitions.)

Rep. Tancredo explained, “[Mexico’s President Vicente] Fox has been begging the President to push this amnesty proposal. We’re increasing our own vulnerability to terrorism, while simultaneously rewarding people for violating our laws. The proposal not only rewards lawbreakers, it has the potential to allow criminals, ranging from petty thieves to suicide bombers, to remain in America legally.”

Moreover, a constitutional note: The Constitution explicitly prohibits ex post facto laws, in which a previously legal act is legislated into illegality after it is done (Article I, Section 9). But surely amnestying illegal immigration is the illicit converse of this principle – in which previously illegal acts are “government-blessed” into lawfulness by subsequent passage of legislation.

Almost immediately demonstrating the folly of that vote, on Wednesday, suspected 9-11 Jihadi attackers Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi received written confirmation from the INS of their student visa approvals to attend flight school in Florida. (Typically, immigrants whose entry or visitors visas have lapsed, as was the case for these suicide attackers, are not even considered “illegal” if they are applying for new visa status. Ditto for illegal border-crossers with paperwork submitted. But had these two Jihadis thought anyone suspected them, they apparently could have applied for those 245(i) amnesties.)

President Bush remarked of the controversy, “Well, it got my attention this morning when I read about that [9-11 terrorist hijackers Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi receiving student visa approvals Monday]. I was stunned, and not happy. Let me put it another way – I was plenty hot.” Perhaps, if “plenty hot” means he’s heatedly embarrassed for strong-arming Congress Tuesday into a wink-and-nod at illegal immigration that could help terrorists remain within our borders!

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