In the aftermath of the most recent ‘botched/thwarted’ attack on America, discussion has erupted on two fronts; one being the mishandling of apparently obvious information as to the plan of attack, and what actions should be taken in relation to airport security on the ground and in Yemen. The loudest voices are calling for a myriad of courses of action from surgical strikes by our special forces in conjunction with the Yemenis government forces, some are calling for full body scans which have been met with fiery opposition by others, and even as far as legally instituted profiling including separate lines for muslims of all kinds focused on men 18 to 28. It does not seem to occur to people that the fundamental issue of civil rights and rights to privacy are about to be thrown under the bus for the comfort of categorizing and labeling our enemy. The issue at hand, truly, is that in no situation can you profile a muslim, being that the religion accepts and contains men, women, and children, of all shapes and sizes from every background possible. Islam is the largest growing religion in the world, and that said, it is ridiculous to think that resorting to legal racism, profiling, and open prejudice on par with pre-vietnam America, would do anything but serve as a security blanket to reassure relative safety while doing little to truly make us any more secure and safe from foreign or domestic attack of a violent nature.
I have spent much time watching video, taking notes, and mulling over in my head the ramifications of taking any of the previously mentioned tactics to ‘secure our borders’. Having watched hours of clips, read many transcripts, and thought at length on the subject, I have compiled some very interesting comments and ideas being tossed around the punditry circles by those politicizing this event. I wrote, very recently, on the idea of using the word terrorist to describe these lone wolf, violent extremists. I wrote a piece on the verbiage used in these incidents to reassure ourselves as well as further political policy and platform. This country is clearly guilty of poorly planned and violent knee-jerk reactions to situations that, after extensive hindsight, would have benefited from a more measured approach. This stands as one of those situations where the first emotional response that I am seeing in the regular circles would result in dire consequences on many fronts unless we step back and look at the probable fallout as a nation that, at least for the purpose of the cameras, champions civil right, democracy, and the even-handed management of security imperatives.
The most talked about possible answer to our security questions is profiling suspects. Now, as far as I understand, profiling of suspects has been illegal and frowned upon in local law enforcement agencies, but now that we are scared of foreign attacks on America, we are willing to overturn this ruling for the sake of our national security? I find this hard to believe, that we are wiling to profile people based on their skin, country of origin, or their religious beliefs. Congressman King is quoted on Fox News as saying, in regard to profiling, that “some people call it profiling, I call it common sense screening…” This is the level we are on, that profiling broad bases of people is common sense when, some years ago, it was wrong to do so in local precincts in our backyard?
On the same subject, Ann Coulter, the looniest of loons on the right, seemed to talk her way on to the Mobius Wheel of Logic with the following statements and ideas. She commented that there should be a completely separate line for Muslims, and those that fit a profile, at the airport, for an extensive search. So to start, she was all for segregating a portion of the population for further screening based on religion and background. Furthermore, she is against full body scanning machines for every passenger since it basically allows screeners to see you naked, including all your bits and goodies, which is an invasion of privacy and unconstitutional…but it’s ok for Muslims to be put in a separate line and strip searched without cause other than their choice of religion. Wouldn’t segregation and religious persecution be a little unconstitutional as well!? Well as long as white Christians don’t have to go through the same levels of security as the Muslim zealots, then all is right with the world.
Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney (retired) had this to say on the subject: “Every Muslim, male, 18-28…we’ve got to start profiling, is going to have to be strip searched.” He said this in regard to the feeling that he thinks, with 25 trained bombers ‘in the pipeline’, that America will be the victim of a catastrophic attack, ending in a death toll of 300+ people (he was number specific) within the next 30-120 days. A formal Air Force Lt. Gen. was specific to the number and the timeframe, based on nothing more than conjecture. This is flat-out fear-mongering and panic inflation.
Good old Crazy Joe Lieberman, only days after the ‘thwarted’ (his word) attack said that he was upset with the use of the watch list that the attacker was apparently on. He was upset that this list was not active, and that he was not prevented from flying while being on this list. Joe went on to say in regards to an active list that it “does not mean they are convicted of wrong doing (in regards to people on the list)…but why we can’t have 500,000 names in this day and age?” Lieberman is essentially saying here that he wants a massive list, with lower restrictions on who gets on the list, and implementing this list as a secondary no-fly list, at least for extensive screening. Joe is ok with 500,000 people, for whatever reason, being on a harassment list of some kind. Hell, why not put everyone on that list, every person that flies…wait, that would mean there would be no profiling and everyone would get the same rigorous treatment…no, that’s not fair to white people. Hell, I might make it on that list because of this piece, actually that would make me proud to be on that list of enemies of the state for my writing.
There are also those, like Karl Rove, that are upset that the terror suspect was indicted and given legal council. Rove would rather keep the man as an ‘enemy combatant’ under the Patriot Act and suspend all legal rights and habeas corpus so that the FBI and CIA could “sweat” (his word) the suspect for information before indicting him, if they ever wanted to. Rove openly says that he would rather rendition a prisoner than to give him rights to council. Rove is all for detaining terror suspects in Gitmo, or wherever, indefinitely to gather intel under the Patriot Act, allowing for harsh tactics and a suspension of all rights of a US prisoner. This idea is ludicrous on so many levels and it upsets me that we are pissed that a man was given the rights that the Bill of Rights and the Constitution guarantees him, and our precious forefathers, the pundits use as political weapons, fought and died for.
I find that all of this talk of profiling leads us to a more sinister idea forming in the minds of Americans. I have written of the bubbling racism under the facade of freedom we operate under, but now I feel it has boiled over with the attack at Fort Hood and now this Detroit-bound bombing gone wrong. Profiling will get us nowhere because there is no profile for a Muslim, just as there is no profile for a Catholic or a Christian. Muslims come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. For example, I am a fan of a hip hop rapper named Brother Ali, his profile reads like this: Hometown Minneapolis, MN; about 6’3”; some 280 lbs.; a rapper; albino; and a practicing Muslim! Yes, a rapping, six-foot tall, albino, Muslim! What fucking profile does that fit…none! Yet he is Muslim and from the heartland of America, would he have to stand in the Muslim line because he ‘fits the profile’? I think not.
Profiling is wrong, it just is. Despite the fact that most of the terrorists of late have been of all different ethnic backgrounds, our most recent a Nigerian, it is incredibly ludicrous that you can spot a Muslim any more easily than you can draw me a picture of the ‘average’ Catholic. Also, the idea of singling out a people and to a greater extent separating/segregating them in airports spits in the face of every civil rights step we have taken in the last 60 years. There were those like JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, et al., that fought and stood up for true equality in a fashion our founding fathers never intended in their definitions of the word. A man once said that he dreamed of a time when “men would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Of course that man was Martin Luther King, Jr., a man shot dead for his cause, and every time we mention segregation or profiling on this scale, we spit in the face of this great man and those that carried on his cause. There is no situation I ever conceived of where this type of racist and prejudice act of profiling would not only be allowed to be spoken of, but in my mind, will stand as a platform for candidates to get elected on in 2010; racial profiling will once again be a political boon to those willing to sell it’s sundries, and MLK Jr., seems to have fought all for not after all this time while the ghost of Strom Thurman dances in his grave. How dare we diminish the acts of such great civil rights leaders on the account of our fear and paranoia.
I would like to mention that the closing of Gitmo and the release of detainees has also come under great scrutiny after this event. Recently some half dozen detainees were released back to Yemen, their country of origin after some time in our custody. There are those that think these men will be dangerous in the coming times, plotting attacks, and a security risk to America. I would like to point out there there is no evidence connecting those recently released prisoners to the most recent attempted attack on the jetliner. This event has further spurred on the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay and there is no plan to release any prisoners, especially Yemenis, from custody any time soon. So with no direct connection of any kind, we are further holding men without habeas corpus for no reason but our own paranoia.
They all return to active terror plotting, you say? What’s that, GOP pundit and raging worst case scenario mastermind, you think that once they get out they go right back to trying to kill infidels? Well here is a little fact for you to chew on all you panic room owning yahoos: The recidivism rate for felony offenses is three times higher in our own US prison system than among suspected terrorist detainees. That is right, more than 60% of inmates will, on average, commit another crime and be back in a correctional institution while only 1 in 5 detainees released have gone back to their plotting ways. So what might be the cause for this shocking statistic? Well there is the idea that as much as we talk ‘correctional facility’ it is really a cheap labor force we simply house and release without actually giving any thought for the root causes of the inmates crimes, we simply treat the symptom, not the disease. I, on the other hand, feel that the key problem might be this, that 4 out of 5 detainees might not have been terrorists in the first place since there is generally little evidence that could hold up in court that could convict them of such acts or conspiracies. So it is not such an amazing statistic when you think that, yeah, 1 in 5 don’t go back, but 4 out of 5 might not have done much of anything at all in the first place.
The end that every politician and pundit is getting at is action in Yemen. All the clips I have watched eventually move back to this idea that we need to do something about Yemen, “it is a hotbed of terrorist activity” said Oliver North on Fox News. Oliver went on to say in the same interview on Fox, that Yemen was, and I quote, “crawling with Al Qaeda operatives.” Crawling? Really, Olly? The reports I have looked at, and those referenced on Fox News itself, say that they are about 200 operatives and possible terrorists in the country of Yemen; a country of about 23.5 million people. I am not a mathematician, but I don’t think the ratio there would warrant the word “crawling” as the adjective used to describe the concentration of terrorists in the country. I mean, how would you, Mr. North, describe the 100 operatives said to be left along the Afghani/Pakistani border, “inundated”, “overrun”, maybe even “besieged?” Indeed.
Of all of the racism, prejudice, and panicked conjecture far beyond the reaches the aptly reasonable mind can attain, there is one man that does stand above it all, Joe Lieberman. I mentioned him earlier, but I need to quote him once again for you to get the full brunt of the situation we are all facing. In these trying times we cannot lose our heads and we must try to take a deep breath before rushing head on in to another intractable situation. I believe the interview was on the 27th of December, 2009, just after the attack and early in the fear-mongering process, where every doomsday scenarios is hatched and transformed in to dramatic graphics packages, Joe uttered some of the scarier words of the period. In recalling what a Washington insider told him to end a Fox News interview, with his last thirty seconds, Joe chewed up and spit out the phrase that drives good men to drink, and better men to weep:
“Iraq is yesterday’s war,
Afghanistan is today’s war,
and if we don’t act preemptively,
Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.”
If nothing else scares you then know this; the likes of Lieberman and others already decided Iraq is over, it’s not; that Afghanistan is just starting, it’s been going on a while; and that our dance card needs to be full, so now we’ve set our sights on Yemen; unless we ‘act preemptively’…but then again, wasn’t invading Iraq a preemptive strike? The Mobius Wheel of Logic, Indeed.