Some will be irritated by this message; most surprising to me, perhaps, is that it comes from the editorial staff of a San Francisco
I think there are some very good points. We can't live in fear, but we do need to be on our guard.
Mumbai reminds the U.S. to remain vigilant
As readers of Arthur Conan Doyle will recall, only Sherlock Holmes appreciated the significance of the dog that didnât bark. Americans may be similarly oblivious to the fact that jihadists have not launched a successful attack in the U.S. since 9/11. As a result, we have given little credit to the painstaking work that kept them from occurring.
But last weekâs terrorism in Mumbai, India, ought to wake us up. Jihadists constantly invent new methods of causing mass terror, and their biggest ally is the complacency of those unwilling to do the necessary work to thwart them. This should mean continuing the vast majority of the strenuous efforts of the Bush administration that are far too underappreciated, and building on them in ways that do not infringe on civil liberties.
Last week, the Heritage Foundationâs James Jay Carafano outlined several priorities for keeping the American homeland safe. First, lawmakers should not monkey with the basic substance of the Patriot Act, which enhanced the ability of government agencies to track terroristsâ finances and communications, and knocked down âwallsâ that kept American enforcement agencies from effectively collaborating. The act has worked well since October 2001, and most of the reasonable civil liberties concerns about the original act were fixed when it was reauthorized in 2006.
Similarly, lawmakers should not weaken the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was meticulously crafted to balance security with liberty.
Third, Carafano said, the Federal Emergency Management Agency should remain integrated within the Department of Homeland Security. âWhen an explosion happens, the government cannot wait till it knows if the incident was a terrorist attack or an industrial accident,â he explained. âRather, our nation needs to respond with alacrity, and that means taking an integrated âall-hazardsâ approach from the local to the national level.â
Finally, efforts to improve coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement and first responders remain a work in progress. Those efforts should be redoubled.
In a recent address at the Federalist Society, Attorney General Michael Mukasey warned against attempts to weaken the enforcement mechanisms put in place since 9/11. He said criticisms of the successful measures amount to âa very dangerous form of amnesia that views the success of our counterterrorism efforts as something that undermines the justification for continuing them.â
That way lies Mumbai, which should serve as ample warning to us all.
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