Terror Talk



Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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19 Responses

  1. Avatar Will says:

    Damn, beat me to it.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Part of the problem is that the government has a long, long wishlist of stuff that they want to be able to do but that pesky Constitution keeps getting in the way.

    “Terrorism” is one of those things that becomes a datapoint in the discussion that can help change the minds of reasonable, moderate people when it comes to how much power the government has to have.

    After all, after you change the minds of the reasonable, moderate people, the only people screaming about the Constitution and Liberty are the extremist nutcases. Hey, a dead guy can’t enjoy his liberty, can he? Why not move to Somalia? I understand that they’ve got a failed state! Love it or leave it!

    And government gets its wishlist.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    I think there is quite a bit of info out there if people really want to dig into it. Unfortunetly soem of gets boiled down into partisan debates and scare tactics.Report

  4. Avatar greginak says:

    Damn misspellings, just assume all the words are spelled correctly. The government really should have saved me from a response with incorrectly spelled words.Report

  5. Avatar Jim says:

    Why do you refer to the incompetence of DHS? The FBI has the counter-terrorism mission. DHS was indeed set up as a result of 9/11, but it doesn’t have counter-terror as any part of its mission.Report

  6. I’ve long argued a similar point Will. Once Obama was elected he gained access to information that would probably make most of our heads spin (insert Hollywood image of Area 51 and the JFK assasination here). I think that’s at least in part the reason he has pumped the brakes on the torture witch hunt. I suspect he knows that we DID get some actionable intelligence from some of the interrogations and for many Americans that will be enough to close the book on the question of torture necessity.Report

  7. Avatar Will says:

    Jim –

    Read the Jeffrey Goldberg article I link to above. DHS is in charge of a lot basic counter-terrorism enforcement, including airport and port security. According to Wikipedia, its primary mission is to protect the United States from terrorist attacks:


    Mike –

    I suppose that’s possible, but we really won’t know either way unless there’s a more open, comprehensive discussion about the extent and nature of the terrorist threat.Report

  8. Avatar Graham says:

    If the threat hasn’t dissipated after six years, wouldn’t that be an indicator that what we’re doing isn’t working? Weren’t we told in 2007 that Al-Qaeda was back to “pre 9/11 strength”.

    The burden of proof seems to be on those who want to scale back the war on terror rather than on those who would continue it indefinitely. That’s definitely the way that the “closing Gitmo” debate unfolded.

    Nobody wants to be left holding the bag should another attack occur, which is why nobody will break from the pack and propose real change or reexamination. Any conclusion other than “stay the course” is deemed unrealistic or unacceptable. I doubt that will change no matter how much intelligence is made public.Report

  9. Avatar Will says:

    Graham –

    The political logic of “staying the course” is pretty ironclad, but there has been significant push-back against a few status quo policies. To me, that suggests that some reform is possible under the right circumstances.Report

  10. Avatar Jim says:


    Airport security and passenger are really not that central to counter-terrorism; in fact they are prettyb peripheral.

    You already know better than to trust wikipedia, but in this case it’s not so far of the money as far as the legislation that set up the department is concerned, but as always, the truth is in the nuances, and the nuances within ICE, the primary enforcement agency in the department, the one with the biggest stake in counter-terrorism, are that counter-terrorism is simply not a primary focus. And that is essentially a legislative decision. The public is a lot more concerned about illegal aliens than they are about terrorists, and the funding refelcts that.

    As for Mr. Goldberg, he is a wonk, so he believes what he reads, which is whatever is available to him and not much more. Consider the source.Report

  11. Avatar Will says:

    Jim –

    According to department’s founding document (http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/history/publication_0015.shtm), its primary mission is to protect the United States from terrorism. This is also pretty peripheral to my larger point.Report

  12. Avatar Slugger says:

    I’ve read that there are ten million illegals in the United States. I’ve read that Afghanistan exports ten thousand tons of opium. Yet the bad guys have been unable to sneak one bomb or gunman into this country in the last eight years. How is this possible? Are our defenders that good? Are our enemies incompetent? What am I missing?Report

  13. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Tons of good points in this, Will. It’s true – it’s very hard to have a real, productive discussion without all the information. Then again, policy is so often driven by misinformation (see: lead up to Iraq War) that I’m not sure more information would do us much good. For every piece of information we get, a piece of misinformation accompanies it. And people believe what they want to believe. Just tread through NRO for a while and it’s easy to see how misinformation is just as important a part of our debate as information is.Report

  14. Avatar Ken says:

    Isn’t it exaggerating a bit to call today’s arrest the outcome of a “botched terror attack”? I’m not suggesting this was entrapment — there was pretty clearly predisposition — but is there any indication these twerps would have gotten anywhere near a credible attack without hand-holding?Report

  15. Avatar Will says:

    Ken –

    Agreed. Maybe it wasn’t clear in the original post, but I refer to it as botched because of how bungling the suspects were.Report