All right, let's go through this one more time. Are there any Muslims who are hoping to launch a chemical or nuclear attack against the United States? Yes. Is there a strict wall of separation in the American Muslim community between them and peaceful Muslims? No, there isn't. Is there any easy way to tell, or any reliable way to tell at all, which Muslim may be working to launch such a strike and which abhors the very idea? No, there isn't. Do the Muslims who hope to perpetrate such violence operate in mosques? Yes, they do.
And finally: will the result of this report be less of such surveillance, making it easier for these violent thugs to operate under cover of darkness? Could be.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials have secretly monitored radiation levels at Muslim sites, including mosques and private homes, since September 11, 2001 as part of a top secret program searching for nuclear bombs, U.S. News and World Report said on Friday.
The news magazine said in its online edition that the far-reaching program covered more than a hundred sites in the Washington, D.C., area and at least five other cities.
"In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program," the magazine said.
The report comes a week after revelations that the Bush administration had authorized eavesdropping on people in the United States. U.S. President George W. Bush has defended that covert program and vowed to continue the practice, saying it was vital to protect the country.
Senior U.S. officials, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, have repeatedly said Islamic militants appeared intent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction for an attack against the United States.
Mueller said in February he was "very concerned with the growing body of sensitive reporting that continues to show al Qaeda's clear intention to obtain and ultimately use some form of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-energy explosives material in its attacks against America."
An FBI spokesman declined to confirm or deny the U.S. News and World Report article and said, "We can't talk about a classified program."
"The FBI's overriding priority is to prevent, disrupt and defeat terrorist operations in the U.S. All investigations and operations conducted by the FBI are intelligence driven and predicated on specific information about potential criminal acts or terrorist threats, and are conducted in strict conformance with federal law," he added.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group said the report, coupled with news of the domestic eavesdropping, "could lead to the perception that we are no longer a nation ruled by law, but instead one in which fear trumps constitutional rights."
See the disjunction between those two statements? These issues should be studied and settled by the Supreme Court, sooner rather than later, if possible in a way that clears up the legal and Constitutional issues rather than adding to them. I know that in that I may be asking too much.
"All Americans should be concerned about the apparent trend toward a two-tiered system of justice, with full rights for most citizens, and another diminished set of rights for Muslims," it said in a statement.
Federal officials cited by U.S. News and World Report maintained the program was legal and said warrants were not needed for the kind of radiation sampling it conducted. Officials also rejected any notion that the program specifically targeted Muslims, the magazine said....
What a shame. Until Methodists start committing acts of terrorism and violence the world over, justifying these acts by reference to their theology, I will not understand why government and law enforcement officials cannot simply say that it is Muslims who want to kill us for Islamic reasons, and so we will be deploying our resources accordingly.
At its peak, the effort involved three vehicles in the Washington area monitoring 120 sites a day, nearly all of them Muslim targets such as prominent mosques and office buildings selected by the FBI, it said.
The program has also operated in at least five other cities -- namely Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, and Seattle -- when threat levels there have risen, it said.