The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Tue. Jun 11, 2002

QuoteLog, 6/11

QuoteLog, 6/11"Yet there are those in the government who seem to be trying to obstruct Bush’s war against terrorism. You can see this in the victory-lap exultation of one of the Post’s military sources that the Pentagon has scotched any plans for Iraq. You can see it in the FBI Washington supervisor who blocked a search warrant for Zacarias Moussaoui’s computer, despite French intelligence reports on himbecause, hey, there might be another Zacarias Moussaoui in France [...] You can see it in the denial by ’a senior administration [CIA?] official’ of reports of a meeting in Prague between September 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and Iraqi spy Ahmed Khalil al-Anialthough Czech Republic officials continue to insist that the meeting took place. Clearly some middle- and high-level officials have taken it on themselves to set up roadblocks on the road to Baghdad. The question is whether Bush and his top appointees will tear them down [...] In other words, the George W. Bush who has made it plain in his State of the Union speech and at West Point that we must go to war with Iraq needs to take control of his own administration. Trusting officials as ’good men’ is not enough if they are allowing subordinates to act in line with the incentives that have inhibited intelligence gathering and responses to terrorism over the past 25 years. The American people are with him on Iraq, but he still must get the government in line."

Michael Barone, US News

"So Arlen Specter, our four-term, senior senator from Pennsylvania, thinks foreigners visiting the United States shouldn’t be kept under surveillance unless there’s a ’really good reason’ for it, and thus is ’troubled’ to learn that the FBI is now tailing people on the flimsiest of pretexts-like that they’re ’supporters of al Qaeda’ who have ’sworn jihad’ and the Bureau thinks they’re ’terrorists.’ We are troubled, too. We are troubled by Sen. Specter’s assertion that he is troubled. And not just because the specific worry he raises here is altogether bizarrethough it is certainly that. More ’troublesome’ still is the fact that Sen. Specter’s expression of concern for the civil liberties of visiting Islamic jihadist terror suspects is actually quite typical of the current debate about America’s near-term homeland defense requirements. In this respect: Three thousand people are dead, the movement that killed them fully intends to do it again, and the president and his Justice Department have proposed or undertaken myriad steps to deter such a renewed attack. We need to be sure those steps are proper ones. Which means we need to discuss them intelligently and thoroughly. And yet, time and again, whether the particular initiative or reform at issue is truly fraught with significance or plainly a no-brainer, a huge chunk of otherwise articulate America has proved itself unwilling or unable to engage the conversation on grownup terms. Instead, we get such as Arlen Specter’s upside-down Martin Niemoller routine: First they came for Osama bin Laden’s second-strike foot soldiers, and I said nothing [...] But the Bush administration is so far conducting that debate pretty much all by itself-while the rest of the world plays imaginary French resistance to an equally imaginary Justice Department gestapo."

David Tell, Weekly Standard

"One expert in the field said it was past time for the bureau to change its technology and the way it handles data. ’This notion of not having information shouldn’t be an excuse going forward,’ said Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive of Google Inc., the Internet search firm that enables millions of Internet users to sift through billions of Web pages daily. ’As big as the government is,’ Mr. Schmidt said, ’the Web is bigger.’ [...] Mr. Schmidt of Google said that government had characteristically been slower than industry to adopt new information technology and to link its multitudinous information networks. This leads to a condition that the industry calls ’stovepiped’ information, which means that data is warehoused in separate, unconnected silos. That is partly by design, Mr. Schmidt said, as a precaution against wandering hackers. ’They don’t want a network interloper to come in on one side and do a lot of damage to other computers.’ Even within those various troves, Mr. Schmidt said, information is rarely stored in a way that makes open-ended searches easy. Although companies like his offer products that can be added to such networks to allow only authorized users to search the data, he said that those products cannot readily work with systems that do not conform with the industry standards. And in fact, people who have used the F.B.I. systems say that the bureau has often intentionally disregarded industry standards, in part because of fears that such systems might be more vulnerable to hackers. Companies like Google have long urged the government to devise its computer systems to be more like those in the commercial world."

John Schwartz, NY Times

"In the real world of intellectual rigour and academic standards, such peer review might conceivably lead to recalculation and revision. In the fantasyland of the anti-U.S. Left, it does not even break the stride on the march to the printing press. For, despite being thoroughly discredited on arrival in 2001, Chomsky’s ’silent genocide’ charge and Herold’s 3,700-dead-Afghans howler have shown up, unaltered, in slim paperbacks that have been climbing the charts in 2002: Chomsky’s best-selling pamphlet 9-11, and a City Lights Books offering titled September 11 and the U.S. War: Beyond the Curtain of Smoke. If these books have their fingers on the pulse of the anti-U.S. Left, then it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the patient is in need of some serious attention [...] For years, this ideological subculture thrived in the academic shadows, far from the glare of public attention, comfortable in its grievances about being ignored. After Sept. 11, this cushy arrangement came to a crashing end. When Islamo-fascists mouth Berkeley slogans while waving around severed American heads, an engaged citizenry is now bound to take note. ’It is important,’ Chomsky concludes in 9-11,’not to be intimidated by hysterical ranting and lies and to keep as closely as one can to the course of truth and honesty and concern for the human consequences of what one does, or fails to do.’ Unluckily for Noam Chomsky’s false world, people are finally taking his advice to heart."

Matt Welch, National Post

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