Friday, December 5, 2008

Terrorism Down the Road - Does there have to be a patsy?

I will start out by saying that I love Peggy Noonan. A speechwriter during the Reagan administration, you can now find her columns in opinion section of the Wall Street Journal. Today's column, "'At Least Bush Kept Us Safe' --The two words Democrats don't want tacked onto that sentence."

Who in America gets credit for the absence of a terror attack here since 9/11? Was it the result of President Bush's efforts to combat terrorism domestically as well as internationally? Was it just luck as in the case of the plot to use poison gas in the New York City subway system when a member of the terror cell turned chicken and ratted out his brothers in arms?

Talking about a Christmas gathering, she writes:
There was no grousing about John McCain, and considerable grousing about the Bush administration, but it was almost always followed by one sentence, and this is more or less what it was: "But he kept us safe." In the seven years since 9/11, there were no further attacks on American soil. This is an argument that's been around for a while but is newly re-emerging as the final argument for Mr. Bush: the one big thing he had to do after 9/11, the single thing he absolutely had to do, was keep it from happening again. And so far he has. It is unknown, and perhaps can't be known, whether this was fully due to the government's efforts, or the luck of the draw, or a combination of luck and effort. And it not only can't be fully known by the public, it can hardly be fully known by the players at all levels of government. They can't know, for instance, of a potential terrorist cell that didn't come together because of their efforts.
And it is precisely this that requires America to be on high alert. Even if it is dumb luck that has protected us since 9/11, you cannot let your guard down for a second. The people planning our destruction are looking for our weaknesses, the proverbial chink in our armor. And we must not let up for a second. (See, the New York Times report from August 1997, Police Break Up Suspected Bomb Plot in Brooklyn.)

Congress has issued a report boldly stating that the "margin of safety is shrinking, not growing."

Noonan asks,

Why does Congress prepare such reports? To inform, and to win support for new plans. To show they are doing something. And to be able to say, in the event of calamity—forgive my cynicism—that they warned us. This hasn't been the first such report. It won't be the last. But it comes at a key moment for Mr. Obama, because it gives him a certain amount of cover to be serious about what needs to be done. What's at stake for him is two words. When Republicans say, in coming years, "At least Bush kept us safe," Democrats will not want tacked onto the end of that sentence, "unlike Obama."

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