Our New Terror Policy: Safety Last?

March 19, 2009

Our New Terror Policy: Safety Last?


Homeland Security: Are you safer now than you were two months ago? From the handling of captured terrorists to airborne security, the U.S. government has quietly relaxed post-9/11 protections.

Read More: Global War On Terror

For years, liberal Democratic politicians and the establishment media have worked to paint a picture of former Vice President Dick Cheney as a demon with godlike powers. The Washington Post, in a Pulitzer-winning series of articles, called him “the most influential and powerful man ever to hold the office of vice president.”

During President George W. Bush’s first term, Cheney was depicted as the real power and brains in the White House, scheming to manipulate the commander in chief to assert bold new executive authorities as a new era of terrorism unfolded.

After Bush’s re-election, however, the running mate as puppet-master mantra lost much of its plausibility, and the press focused more on Cheney’s hunting mishaps and low poll ratings.

So how surprising to find so much media attention paid to the first post-Bush administration interview of someone they were waving good riddance to less than two months ago.

The explanation may not be the media’s usual sensationalist tendencies, but the simple fact that the former vice president knows intimately how and why America has stayed safe for nearly 7 1/2 years after September 11, 2001.

Cheney told CNN that the reversal by the Obama administration of the use of some of the tough interrogation practices approved by the president’s predecessor has placed Americans at risk within the homeland. President Obama, he said, is “making some choices that in my mind will raise the risk to the American people of another attack.”

He called enhanced interrogation of terrorist detainees “absolutely essential to the success we enjoy, of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11.”

Cheney added: “I think it’s a great success story. It was done legally, it was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles,” he maintained.

It is worth remembering that Cheney’s immediate, and apparently instinctive, reaction to 9/11 was that just these kind of powerful tools would be needed in this new kind of war.

Less than a week after the attacks, the vice president was telling NBC that for America to defend itself, the U.S. government would have to “work . . . sort of the dark side, if you will. . . . A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful.”

The very next day, President Bush gave written authorization for the CIA to establish a “hidden global internment network” to interrogate terrorist prisoners.

The successors of Bush-Cheney seem in some respects to be just as instinctively opposed to such powerful tools. This week, CIA Director Leon Panetta announced that he has tapped former New Hampshire liberal Republican Sen. Warren Rudman to serve as his “special adviser” to help the administration and the Senate Intelligence Committee dredge up details of the Bush interrogation and detention program in what is expected to be a year-long probe.

One of President Obama’s first acts was an executive order shutting down the remainder of the CIA terrorist prisons abroad, closing the Guantanamo Bay naval base’s detention camp in Cuba — sure to lead to the release of some of the 245 enemy combatants being held there. Even that term — “enemy combatant” — has been renounced by the new administration.

On top of that, as reported by the Washington Times, the president is without fanfare applying gun-control ideology to homeland security by scrapping the federal firearms program, which allows some 12,000 airline pilots to carry guns with them in their cockpit during flight. Pilots say that already the approval process for authorizing pilots to carry guns has slowed considerably.

It is said that in our modern age of dazzling gadgetry and CGI-enhanced movie and TV entertainment, Americans’ attention span and collective memory are shorter than ever. Have we, in less than eight years, already forgotten that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty — as well as being the price of safety from Islamist terror for ourselves and our families?


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