Ten questions that will not be answered 11

Judith Miller asks ten pertinent questions about the Times Square act of terrorism.

Read them all here.

We are most interested in the answers to these, the last five, though we don’t expect to get them:

  • On Sunday just after the failed Times Square attack, why did DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano describe the failed terrorist attack as a “one-off”? And what on earth did she mean by that? [Actually, we know what she meant: “don’t even suggest that this attack is part of the jihad” – JB.]
  • Why did members of President Obama’s national security team – Napolitano, Holder, and Robert Gibbs (who as press secretary seems to be an insider even on national security issues and operating way beyond his pay grade) go out of their way to avoid using the term “terrorism” to describe the failed attack until the obvious could no longer be denied? And why, to this day, has the term “Islamic” never been linked with Shahzad or his plot?
  • If Shahzad really got some terrorist training up in Waziristan, what on earth did they teach him? How to pick a fertilizer for a bomb that could not explode? How to leave your own car and house keys in the ignition of the vehicle you intend to blow up in Times Square? And how can Washington ensure that all aspiring terrorists enroll in such classes?
  • But seriously and most important – when, where, why, and how was Faisal Shahzad radicalized? How did a happy-go-lucky Facebook guy, married with two kids and apparently doing OK in America, go from watching “Everyone Loves Raymond” – listed as one of his favorite TV shows – to Peshawar for terrorist training and back to Times Square to kill his fellow Americans? Was he radicalized during his stay in Pakistan by the steady stream of deadly American drone attacks on Muslim extremists as some newspapers are now suggesting? Or, more likely and as some of his neighbors have alleged, was he already withdrawing from society and being radicalized in Shelton, or Bridgeport, Connecticut?
  • Finally, as former deputy police commissioner Michael Sheehan has asked, if “home-grown” radicalization is the challenge we believe it to be, why have local police forces in areas with large clusters of young Muslim residents – yes, in Connecticut and New Jersey and Rhode Island — not mimicked the NYPD by investing at least SOME resources in trying to spot radicalized, potentially dangerous people and prevent terrorist organizations from establishing a presence in their communities? This is not rocket science. As Sheehan argues, we know how to do this.

Until we know the answers to these and other vexing questions surrounding our latest terrorist near-miss, self-congratulation is, to say the least, premature. Let’s remember that [the] Faisal Shahzad alleged deadly plot failed not because America’s law enforcement and homeland defense systems are effective, but because he was incompetent.

  • C. Gee

    Snark:

    “I get that you guys seem to want the public to live in a daily state of panic about the possibility that they may get blown up at any instance. It's a pretty perverse thing. Serves your ultimately authoritarian objectives I guess. Helps usher in the police state or something?”

    We do not want the public to live in a daily state of panic that they might be blown up at any instant. The jihadists do. That is what terrorism aims for – terror and death, terror as a result of death. Hundreds of thousands of people world wide have been blown up or horribly mutilated who were simply going about their daily lives.

    What do you not understand about your self-declared enemies bringing the battle to your city streets? To you? Fighting an enemy in our midst is not the same as crime prevention and enforcement. If jihadism is a pre-formed plot against Americans ( and whomever else happens to be there when the bomb goes off), then Muslims should receive heightened surveillance (with warrants). Security agencies should be able to identify every extremist mosque and organization. The state 's prime functions are , after all, defense and law enforcement. By contrast, a police state's prime function is to keep power in the hands of dictators. Every citizen in a police state is a potential enemy. A state at war does not become a police state because it attempts to identify the enemy in its midst. Every one who travels by air has been subjected to inconvenience from heightened security. Most travelers accept it – because they know that they are targets of jihadists.

    War changes they way people think and live. The statement “You let the terrorists win if you give in to terror”, is only partially right. You most certainly let the terrorist win if you let them kill you, or extort special treatment from you. The victims of the jihadists carry to their graves their rights to a jury trial, to the presumption of innocence, to equal protection of the laws, to bear arms… Life is a prerequisite to liberty, liberty to the pursuit of happiness.

    The only other point I would respond to in your recent comment is that Jihadists are not all from the Middle East. They come in all colors and nationalities. So I would not limit the surveillance to swarthy types with Arab names. I would look at mosques, imams, and those in the congregation whose behavior raises red flags. I would look at Muslim organizations, particularly charities, and their leaders and members. Long stays in Pakistan would be worth noting in a computer file.

    Militias should come under scrutiny, as should militant Mexican and South American and nativist groups. Any group that wishes to undermine or destroy the government, the constitution, or the nation by violence should have no standing to complain about loss of privacy. Insurrection is not difficult to distinguish from dissent, provide that some insurrectionists are not ignored for fear of racism, or whatever the politically correct code word is.

    Let's get into their underwear before their underwear gets into us.

    There are a great many genuinely and explicitly authoritarian websites for you to be cheesed off with. The White House website for one.
    Why not visit them?

    • snark

      We do not want the public to live in a daily state of panic that they might be blown up at any instant. The jihadists do. That is what terrorism aims for – terror and death, terror as a result of death.

      The author of this post wants the president to declare war on Islam. Wants to know why the administration doesn't shout “terrorism” and “Islam” and “Jihadi” at every opportunity. You want to people to live in fear of ALL MUSLIMS. You want people to see anyone who looks like they may be muslim and be affraid. You espouse terror through THE FEAR of death. You are not much different than those you condemn.

      Hundreds of thousands of people world wide have been blown up or horribly mutilated who were simply going about their daily lives.

      How about all the Afghans and Iraqis that have been blown up or mutilated by American bullets and bombs as they were just going about their daily lives? Yes, I know. We don't intentionally target innocent civilians. It's just that we can't always control our sophisticated expensive sanitary means of blowing people up and mutilating them. Colateral damage we call it. Sometimes it's hard to tell civilians from jihadis through the lens of a drone being operated from thousands of miles away. Accidents happen. Do you think that distinction matters to the family and friends of the innocents we blow up and mutilate? It does matter. And it radicalizes them. Just like the violence against innocents by jihadis radicalizes you. So they see no difference between innocent American civilians and military targets. Just as you see no distinction between innocent muslims and jihadis. You are not so different than them.

      War changes they way people think and live.

      Yes, it does. There's been a lot of war in the Middle East. A lot of it fomented by western powers such as the US. Perhaps that has changed the way people in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan think? But by all means, lets have a president who stands up and boldly declares war on Islam! War changes the way people think.

      The statement “You let the terrorists win if you give in to terror”, is only partially right. You most certainly let the terrorist win if you let them kill you, or extort special treatment from you.

      Or abandon your principles and values. If you let them destroy the things that separate you from them.

      The victims of the jihadists carry to their graves their rights to a jury trial, to the presumption of innocence, to equal protection of the laws, to bear arms… Life is a prerequisite to liberty, liberty to the pursuit of happiness.

      And how are these any different than the victims of any random act of violence? Are the innocents gunned down in their office cubicles or classrooms by disgruntled former coworkers or students not also denied the same? Are the lives lost to such acts of violence of less value than those lost to jihadi violence? Yet you refuse to respond to my questions about restricting gun purchases by even those people on terrorism watch lists? Do you believe gun ownership should be at all restricted? Or are you like Lindsey Graham who thinks that Faisal Shahzad should have continued to be legally able to purchase guns even if he had found his way onto a terrorist watch list? And you still have not addressed what benefit is achieved regarding our safety by not trying terror suspects in a court of law. How does a military tribunal make us safer?

      The only other point I would respond to in your recent comment is that Jihadists are not all from the Middle East. They come in all colors and nationalities. So I would not limit the surveillance to swarthy types with Arab names. I would look at mosques, imams, and those in the congregation whose behavior raises red flags. I would look at Muslim organizations, particularly charities, and their leaders and members. Long stays in Pakistan would be worth noting in a computer file.

      In order for someone's behavior to raise a red flag you already need to be observing them. You've basically stated that all muslims need to be observed and should be under suspicion. Again, would you expand this to non-muslim radical groups and organization? Make files on anyone whose behavior you find suspicious?

      Militias should come under scrutiny, as should militant Mexican and South American and nativist groups.

      That answers that question.

      Any group that wishes to undermine or destroy the government, the constitution, or the nation by violence should have no standing to complain about loss of privacy. Insurrection is not difficult to distinguish from dissent, provide that some insurrectionists are not ignored for fear of racism, or whatever the politically correct code word is.

      In otherwords everyone is suspect.

      You seek to undermine the Constitution. You are not so different than the jihadis you are affraid of.

      There are a great many genuinely and explicitly authoritarian websites for you to be cheesed off with. The White House website for one.
      Why not visit them?

      The White House is authoritarian but this very page criticizes Obama for trying to use hope and love to appeal to muslims while you just want to keep them all under surveillance. LOL!

      I thought perhaps there was some intelligent informed discussion to be had here. I see I was mistaken. I will leave you to your xenophobic paranoia. Good luck waging war on Islam.

  • snark

    The other two questions are sort of nonsense. To be expected from Judith Miller.

    This one;

    Finally, as former deputy police commissioner Michael Sheehan has asked, if “home-grown” radicalization is the challenge we believe it to be, why have local police forces in areas with large clusters of young Muslim residents – yes, in Connecticut and New Jersey and Rhode Island — not mimicked the NYPD by investing at least SOME resources in trying to spot radicalized, potentially dangerous people and prevent terrorist organizations from establishing a presence in their communities? This is not rocket science. As Sheehan argues, we know how to do this.

    This basically calls for a police state with the authority to observe radicalized potentially dangerous people. Serious question here. How do you reconcile this with your claim to support individual liberty and small government?

  • snark

    Why did members of President Obama’s national security team – Napolitano, Holder, and Robert Gibbs (insert even more meaningless Judith Miller editorial pablum here) go out of their way to avoid using the term “terrorism” to describe the failed attack until the obvious could no longer be denied?

    Who cares really? What is the obsession with what words they use before they actually know what they're dealing with? Again, if they find a bomb and don't know who planted it you think they should start yelling about terrorism everytime? So any bombing is terrorism? Bombing an abortion clinic? Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist, correct?

    From The Washington Post

    The attorney general [Holder] described the investigation as “multifaceted” and said federal, state and local authorities are continuing to pursue a number of leads. “As we move forward, we will focus on not just holding those responsible for it accountable, but also on obtaining any intelligence about terrorist organizations overseas,” he said.

    That's the day after Shahzad was arrested. Holder talking about terrorist organizations. Not good enough, eh?

    And why, to this day, has the term “Islamic” never been linked with Shahzad or his plot?

    Do you know what his motivation was? Apparently he was experiencing a lot of financial problems. About to lose his house. Employment problems. Perhaps stress was as much responsible as any religious conviction. Stress over financial problems made an otherwise normal guy fly his plan into an IRS office building. Your obsession with being “at war” with Islam is distrubing and, quite frankly, dangerous. The kind of rhetoric you want to see our government officials throwing around will only push more muslims closer to the radical fringe elements of Islam. There are billions of muslims in the world. Do you think our government should be going out of their way to radicalize even more of them? How do you see your war against them ending?

  • snark

    On Sunday just after the failed Times Square attack,

    Sunday morning in fact. Just several hours after the bomb was discovered and removed.

    why did DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano describe the failed terrorist attack as a “one-off”?

    This is inaccurate. She was asked, “How concerned are you that this is not an isolated incident?” Being as it was only several hours after the event the intent of the askers question is clear, do you think there are more devices out there? And she did not “describe” it as a “one-off”. She said that they had no evidence that it was anything more than a “one-off” or an isolated incident in thecontext of the question she was asked.

    And what on earth did she mean by that? [Actually, we know what she meant: “don't even suggest that this attack is part of the jihad” – JB.]

    I think an actual analysis of her comments in context belies your clearly biased opinion. At the time she was speaking no one knew who the perp was. Could have simply been a lunatic. So why exactly would she, or anyone, assume it was an islamic jihadi who had planned the bombing until she had evidence of such?

    • Jillian Becker

      Why should she assume it was an “isolated incident?”

      Enough has been happening in the world to prompt an averagely well-informed observer to make a quite different assumption. See our margin: 15247 deadly Islamic terrorist attacks since 9/11.

      • snark

        Why should she assume it was an “isolated incident?”

        She didn't say any such thing. She said that they had no evidence that it was anything other than an isolated incident. Again, she was asked how concerned they were that it was more than an isolated incident. Why would she say that it could be more than an isolated incident if she had no evidence that it was? Other than to scare people. And it seems to have been an isolated incident. So she was correct. So there is a difference between saying there is no evidence of something and assuming something to be the case. But apparently you don't want to see that.

        • C. Gee

          There was no evidence that it was anything other than an incident. The determination of whether it was “isolated” or the result of a conspiracy or one of an ongoing stream of attacks against America by the jihad – all required evidence. The assumption that it is an isolated incident – in the absence of evidence confirming it – is what is so extraordinarily perverse in national security officials. Planting a bomb – or exploding car – should be presumed to be an act of terrorism, or even better, an act of war. Bombs are chosen as a medium for an ideological message . And most terrorism is linked to jihadism, which has declared war on the West. ( Yes, McVeigh was a terrorist. Yes, abortion clinic bombers are terrorist. Yes, the Unabomber was a terrorist.) We are long past the stage where we can assume the acts to be “isolated acts” of criminality.
          I would rather see an instant leap to the assumption of jihadism – with apologies to come later when it turns out to be a mad militiaman vet who suffered foreclosure, PTSD, and Gulf War Syndrome (none of which exculpates him) – than the ludicrous pretense that all incidents (with bombs) are innocent until proven terrorist. There should be a bias in favor of regarding violence against randomly chosen civilians as the action of our enemies. It might save time and lives.

          By the way, the Fort Hood shooter was an “isolated incident” – but one that should have been avoided if his behavior had been matched with his ideology. Jihadist Islam should be regarded as a pre-formed plot and any Muslim who appears to espouse it should be regarded as a conspirator preparing to carry it out. An action like carrying loaded weapons, or rigging a car to explode, are actions in furtherance of that conspiracy.

        • snark

          There was no evidence that it was anything other than an incident. The determination of whether it was “isolated” or the result of a conspiracy or one of an ongoing stream of attacks against America by the jihad – all required evidence.

          Correct. Napolitano was asked a specific question about how concerned she was that it was more than an isolated incident. The question was clearly in the context of whether there might be more devices involved. She responded that they had no evidence that there were others. I get that you guys seem to want the public to live in a daily state of panic about the possibility that they may get blown up at any instance. It's a pretty perverse thing. Serves your ultimately authoritarian objectives I guess. Helps usher in the police state or something?

          The assumption that it is an isolated incident – in the absence of evidence confirming it – is what is so extraordinarily perverse in national security officials.

          Excuse me? When did she say she assumed it was an isolated incident? She did not. She simply stated that they had no evidence otherwise. Which in no way indicates that they were not still actively looking for such evidence. And perhaps you could give me some idea of a piece of evidence that would confirm that it was an isolated incident? Please. What evidence would confirm that no other bombs existed? What you wrote makes no sense whatsoever. You must be a Donald Rumsfeld fan.

          Planting a bomb – or exploding car – should be presumed to be an act of terrorism, or even better, an act of war. Bombs are chosen as a medium for an ideological message .

          I agree that any bombing, or attempted bombing is an act of terrorism. An act of war not so much. Bombing an abortion clinic is an act of war?

          And most terrorism is linked to jihadism, which has declared war on the West.

          Most, not all.

          ( Yes, McVeigh was a terrorist. Yes, abortion clinic bombers are terrorist. Yes, the Unabomber was a terrorist.) We are long past the stage where we can assume the acts to be “isolated acts” of criminality.

          Again, you misstate what Napolitano said. Can't seem to get past that. The context was clearly not whether the perp was a jihadist trained by other jihadis but whether they were concerned that there were other undiscovered devices.

          I would rather see an instant leap to the assumption of jihadism – with apologies to come later when it turns out to be a mad militiaman vet who suffered foreclosure, PTSD, and Gulf War Syndrome (none of which exculpates him) – than the ludicrous pretense that all incidents (with bombs) are innocent until proven terrorist.

          Someone finds a bomb and you want the authorities to immediately assume it is an Islamic jihadist. Thereby immediatley focusing only on perps of Middle Eastern descent. Inspite of any evidence that points them in another direction? The assumption should immediately be jihadi? I can safely say that I hope you are not in a position to influence investigations that way.

          There should be a bias in favor of regarding violence against randomly chosen civilians as the action of our enemies. It might save time and lives.

          Or it might cost lives.

          By the way, the Fort Hood shooter was an “isolated incident” – but one that should have been avoided if his behavior had been matched with his ideology.

          You won't get an argument out of me on that one. Wonder if Lindsey Graham thinks he should have been able to legally buy guns?

          Jihadist Islam should be regarded as a pre-formed plot and any Muslim who appears to espouse it should be regarded as a conspirator preparing to carry it out.

          You would apply that standard to any member of a militia which espouses violent resistance to Federal authority or the violent resistance to Federal law I assume?

          An action like carrying loaded weapons, or rigging a car to explode, are actions in furtherance of that conspiracy.

          Not a big fan of open carry laws? Or doees that just apply to Muslims? They're guilty before they break any laws, is that it? Again, a lot of talk about individual liberties but the evidence of your writings points to an authoritarian police state. You guys don't seem to know what you want.

      • snark

        Enough has been happening in the world to prompt an averagely well-informed observer to make a quite different assumption.

        Apparently, being averagely well-informed is not good enough. Her words stand. To date there is no evidence that it was anything more than an isolated incident. Because she said there was no evidence that it was anythning more than a “one-off” doesn't mean they were not looking for evidence of such. You assume to much. But it's really just a function of the fact that you're looking for reasons to indict the Obama administration rather than seeking the truth. The left does it too so you have plenty of company. Judith Miller and Ann Coulter included.

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