Sunday, March 8, 2009

Planning for Mumbai-style Attack - a follow-up

We previously wrote about NYPD Trains for Mumbai-style Attack. John Yoo, writing in the Wall Street Journal, "Yes, We Did Plan for Mumbai-Style Attacks in the U.S. Why the latest assault on Bush anti-terror strategy could make us less safe," compares the Bush administration's response to al-Qaeda's attacks and the threat of a Mumbai-style attack happening here with new policies of the Obama administration.

Suppose al Qaeda branched out from crashing airliners into American cities. Using small arms, explosives, or biological, chemical or nuclear weapons they could seize control of apartment buildings, stadiums, ships, trains or buses. As in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, texting and mobile email would make it easy to coordinate simultaneous assaults in a single city.
After 9/11, we had a responsibility to consider all possible threats.In the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes on New York City and Washington, D.C., these were hypotheticals no more. They became real scenarios for which responsible civilian and military leaders had to plan. The possibility of such attacks raised difficult, fundamental questions of constitutional law, because they might require domestic military operations against an enemy for the first time since the Civil War. Could our armed forces monitor traffic in a city where terrorists were preparing to strike, search for cells using surveillance technology, or use force against a hijacked vessel or building?
According to Yoo, while the military did its job, "it was the duty of the government to plan for worst-case scenarios -- even if, thankfully, those circumstances never materialized." Such efforts raised "unprecedented questions under the most severe time pressures."

Judging from the media coverage of Justice Department memos from those days --released this week by the Obama administration -- this careful contingency planning amounted to a secret plot to overthrow the Constitution and strip Americans of their rights. As the New York Times has it, Bush lawyers "rush into sweeping away this country's most cherished rights." "Irresponsible," harrumphed former Clinton administration Justice Department officials.
Yoo's article does not descend into an apologia for Bush administration tactics. It is a look at the Constitutional underpinnings of the post-9/11 actions of the government going as far back as Alexander Hamilton's opinions on the use of Federal force.

To blame Yoo and others for abuse of Constitutional powers is just silly and that's what is "irresponsible."

There's a good history lesson here, one that folks on the left and right should read. Read the full article.

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