Saturday, November 1, 2008

Who's Terrorized?

By Alan Caruba

I’ve been thinking of late about “the war on terror” that was initiated by the Bush administration after 9/11.

One of the places where terrorist attacks have taken place with greater intensity than anywhere else has been Iraq. After five or more years of these attacks, the Iraqis found ways to identify and eliminate those making them. A lot came, not from Iraqis, but by wannabe jihadists from neighboring nations. So, one assumes, the terror levels are down in Iraq.

Granted, living under Saddam Hussein’s pathological regime must have be cause for serious nervousness, but it is useful to keep in mind he was and is still not the only such despot operating then or now. A lot of the world operates under such people, most of whom seem to thrive in the Middle East and Africa. Cuba and Venezuela come to mind in our part of the world.

This is why we are not surprised that bombings continue in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are presumably the work of al Qaeda, the Taliban, or other interests with various agendas. Overall, the primary agenda throughout the Middle East is to get the United States to leave.

Most notably, however, there have been no bombings in America since 9/11.

A partial answer for this is the fact that American military power was brought to bear in the heart of the Middle East, but the question remains, if there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Saddam Hussein regime was not working with al Qaeda, and it was not likely to attack any of its neighbors because of no-fly zones and other restrictions, why the Bush administration made the invasion of Iraq a priority?

There is, however, another question that nearly eight years into the Bush administration and seven since 9/11, continues to be asked without a satisfying answer. Why hasn’t Osama bin Laden been captured?

If we can put military units in Afghanistan and fly lethal drones over that nation and Pakistan, why hasn’t there been any indication that bin Laden exists anywhere in the area we have been told he is hiding?

Ultimately, the question for all of us is whether you or anyone you know is “terrorized” at this point?

Do you believe that the Department of Homeland Security has made you any more secure today than the previous, separate agencies, particularly the Federal Bureau of Investigation, did prior to 9/11? And, to be fair, if you're an intelligence analyst or roomful of analysts drowning in a flood of reports of possible terror attacks, how do you pick the real one from all the rest?

I have a great personal regard for those who devote themselves to protecting the nation, but isn't it a legitimate questions to ask, if the entire intelligence apparatus of the United States cannot find one terrorist leader after seven years of looking for him, just how effective is it?

Or maybe, for reasons concerning the exercise of political power, they really aren't looking?

And do you actually feel any safer standing barefoot in line in the airport as some supposed security person checks your carry-on luggage for nail clippers or aftershave? After all, the likelihood is that the rest of the baggage in the belly of the plane has not been checked at all.

If more than a million illegal aliens can enter America every year just by walking or driving in, why should any of us feel “secure” from “terrorists”? What do we really know about any of those businessmen, tourists or students from foreign nations that fly into America every single day?

In short, we are all operating on the general belief that, somehow, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, the NSA, the State Department, and the entire military intelligence apparatus of the United States is getting the job done.

Other than the absence of any terrorist attacks, we are mostly operating on faith. In the end, we have no choice.
I keep hearing that we live in a dangerous world. So did our parents and our grandparents. The world is by definition a dangerous place.

More to the point, I am increasingly skeptical of any government official, from the President on down, that tells me to “be afraid, be very afraid.” You should be, too.

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