Cinnamon Stillwell in the San Francisco Gate (thanks to Olivia) identifies an all-too-common malady that hampers public discourse about Islamic terror:
Ever since Sept. 11, critics have been insisting that the U.S. government remedy the blind spots that led to the attacks. That was the ostensible purpose of the Sept. 11 commission and most of its recommendations did indeed conform to such goals. Yet every effort to “connect the dots” since has been met with opposition by the very same critics.
The recent wiretapping controversy is a case in point.
Last month, the New York Times broke the story that the National Security Agency has been listening in on the electronic communications of al Qaeda operatives in America. And the debate has been raging ever since. The problem is, the story turns out not to have been quite the shocker the Times intended.
For one thing, congressional leaders were informed about the surveillance and seemed to have had few qualms about it at the time. The monitored calls were international in origin, a fact conveniently overlooked by those still labeling it a “domestic spying program.” Constitutionally speaking, such actions are in fact within the power of the executive branch, as a recent Justice Department communication makes clear.
The intelligence that led to the surveillance was gleaned from computers, cell phones and phone books belonging to captured al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah and picked up during a CIA operation in Pakistan in 2002. Similarly, the capture of al Qaeda operations chief and Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Pakistan in 2003 produced a treasure trove of information regarding al Qaeda contacts in America. It would have been beyond negligent for the government to ignore such solid leads. If confirmed members of al Qaeda residing in the United States, whether citizens or not, do not make for appropriate surveillance targets, then who does?
Indeed. Read it all.