Sunday, January 4, 2009

Security in America

Preaching to the choir has published a thought-provoking post about the Muslim family that was removed from and Air Tran flight because other passengers overheard some of their conversation and reported it to the authorities.

In the past few months, I have heard many people say one thing we have to acknowledge about the Bush presidency is that it has kept us safe from terrorist attack. I disagree with that premise and I think this case highlights what the real legacy of the Bush administration will be on terrorism. The administration has succeeded in fostering a culture of fear that leads to neighbors eavesdropping on neighbors and to innocent American citizens being pulled off planes. This is not safety. Not if every Muslim American or American of middle-eastern descent has to monitor public conversations so as not to risk being misconstrued and reported to the FBI.

Does the Bush Administration deserve some credit for the fact that since 9/11 there have been no major terrorist attacks in the U.S.? Do you think we've gone too far with the invasion of privacy, in this case private conversation, but frequently it's digital and electronic surveillance? Can this kind of thing be justified by an honest effort on the part of federal law enforcement to keep us safe?

I tend to agree with Sarah that they've "succeeded in fostering a culture of fear." The fact that Bush and Co. were so quick to capitalize on the fear and shock which followed the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers made me question their true intentions. While claiming to have American security as their chief goal, they mounted an intricate campaign to increase fear in order to generate support for invading Iraq. And it worked. Sad and pathetic is what I call it, and dark days in American history.

As the years passed, each one accompanied by a diminished percentage of support for the war and the administration, we're left with this legacy: "neighbors eavesdropping on neighbors and innocent American citizens being pulled off planes."

What's your opinion? Is America safer today?


  1. Yes, and Yes. I think Bush has done some VERY good things for national security in this country...and he's done some very bad things, and done some ineffectual things under the guise of security.

    But my best Answer would be just to simply answer your exit question:

    "What's your opinion? Is America safer today?"

    I don't think America ever HAS been safe or will be safe. Period.

    And I think there comes a mixed Bag when just looking at the last 8 years.

    In some instances Bush has tightened up Red-Tape in high-end security positions, that has been good. I think if Hussien was left to his means, he would have killed Americans, I see that as good (and a HUGE discussion on its own)

    I see The Department of Homeland Security to be a Paper Tiger that takes money from us, and lulls the stupid into a false sense of security, Bad!

    I see Bush's conduct of the wars in Central Asia was a political nightmare. I agree with the acts, and more-or-less the end result, but he served it to the people of the world with such incompetency, that I see it as nothing but danger.

    I don't like how Camp X-Ray in Cuba is being handled, and it's certainly pissing people off who don't mind killing women and children. That's bad.

    Lastly, Bush's domestic spying initiatives do nothing but give more of a foothold for tyranny in America. That's Bad...but not in a Terrorist sort of Way...but more a Dictatorship sort of way.

  2. With that bonehead cease-fire veto yesterday in the United Nations, Bush et al has made us even more safe.

    No doubt some right-wingers still are asking, 'Why do they hate us?'

  3. Wasn't the spying done on people talking with people in the middle-east? If I were having conversation with someone there, I really wouldn't mind if they listened! But I wouldn't like it if I got misinterpreted!

    Of greater concern to me is the character of the american citizen who would be handling security. Are we immigrating more and more people who lack our basic beliefs and values about honesty, human rights, the right to life, respect for law, equality of persons? See my latest blog concerns on the topic.

    I read somewhere about gov't eavesdroppers who were being voyueristic in their listening. We need to be raising people who have integrity if we would remain a great country. That's what de Toqueville said, also. "If america ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.'

  4. I'm watching from Rome Italy. I can tell you the general opinion of America has dropped in the last 8 years. Italians are still enamored of America, but now it's with a certain contempt for Bush's operations, the legacy of which we will see for some time, I'm afraid.

  5. it's plainly obvious we're far less safe now than we were in 2000/early 2001. the reasons are plentiful.

    one, we're far less respected internationally, which means our alliances are weaker and our enemies have an easier time getting a hearing --- or making alliances against us. this is a direct result of the foreign policy we've lead and the wars we have waged. nobody did that to us but us.

    two, our military is stretched far thinner, its stores and reserves depleted, its personnel worn out, by two wars of choice that didn't make America any safer or more secure. if any one (much less two) of our enemies decided to take their enmity into open, shooting wars right now, which battallions would we send to respond to them? which ships could our navy spare? which additional foreign bases would we dismantle to free up the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines needed to do any extra fighting at this point, if we should have to do that --- and what geopolitical hot spots might that leave uncovered?

    three, our economy is in the toilet. making alliances can be expensive, because allies sometimes ask for concessions (imagine that); waging wars most certainly is even more expensive still. being poor leaves a nation insecure because it can't afford security. going into horrendous foreign debt for stupid-ass reasons is strategically moronic.

    four, our bureaucracy has seen eight years of folks being appointed on the basis of political loyalty instead of competence to perform the job. everything from FEMA being run by a former horse racing boss (heckuva job he did) to Alberto Motherfucking Gonzalez ("why won't anybody hire me now that i'm out of my cushy appointed job? boo hoo hoo, i'm a casualty in the war on terra!") and every fucking appointed position in between --- this fact stinks to high heavens, and will take a decade to set right, assuming it can be set right at all. this political nepotism of loyalty over everything else weakens us because it's left us staffed and run by ideological, politicized incompetent nincompoops. that makes us less secure.

    five, six, seven... i could go on, but my doctor wouldn't like the blood pressures that would land me with. let's just say that i don't envy Obama one bit; i suspect he'll be a one-term president, because the harsh medicine he will be forced to use to try and set the nation straight (even just on the economical / fiscal front alone) will be horribly unpopular. frankly, the Democrats might be best advised to let him step down in 2012 and run somebody else to replace him, for fear of another GOP administration, which would surely be disastrous.

  6. Mike, how much does media influence people? If the media ridicules Bush in the USA, doesn't that infect the rest of the world's opinion of him?

    Our media were fiercely committed to defeating the GOP and they used ridicule of Bush's lack of eloquence (his alleged stupidity) and death toll in Iraq to persuade the public --and I say it was REALLY the social issues and liberal anti-Christianism (fear of repeal of Roe vs. Wade -advocacy of gay marriage) which motivated American media more than the war.

    I think we will find that both Bush presidents opened the middle east to some progress long needed --to greater awareness of the West --and to Christianity through greater access to TV --and more acquaintance with Americans and Christians. Mission agencies like Voice of the Martyrs and Sat 7 TV and the 700 Club --tell of inroads Christianity is making. My own church denomination was given property for a church building by the Kurdish gov't in Iraq.

    Time will tell.

  7. When you say "our media" you must be leaving out Fox News. The Liberal press was vocally opposed to continuing what they saw as Republican conservative disaster. But isn't that one of the hallmarks of the American system that we have that freedom. Would you have it any other way?

    Personally I'm opposed to ridicule, whether it be in the political arena or the religious. I don't think it necessary to mock people if I have an argument I believe in. But, our freedom of speech is, or at least was a great aspect of being American. Don't you think?

  8. Mike,

    Here is gist for the mill as far as security and safety goes

    From the Wall Street Journal

    For Middle-Class Pakistanis, a Gun Is a Must-Have Accessory

    A few great clips from a longer article.

    ...Guns have long been part of Pakistan's traditional culture, especially in the rugged northwestern part of the country. Handed down through generations, rifles have been used for hunting and for firing celebratory fusillades. Now, however, modern assault rifles and handguns have come into vogue among middle-class Pakistanis, and gun registration has jumped.

    This proliferation reflects many urbanites' dwindling faith that the country's new civilian government can protect them. Over the past year, Pakistan has endured the assassination of popular political leader Benazir Bhutto, a spreading Islamist insurgency and the bombing of Islamabad's Marriott Hotel. November's deadly terror attacks in Mumbai, allegedly carried out by 10 Pakistani militants trained here, further frayed nerves....

    Does this sound familiar (California, Maryland,?)
    Others say the government isn't doing enough to get arms in the hands of those who need them. "Criminals don't have licenses, so why do we need to get a license?" asked Tariq Rana, who on a recent day was buying an illegal 12-gauge shotgun after he was robbed of his cellphone, watch and cash the night before. "I couldn't get an arms license because I don't know any politicians."

    Does the legal restrictions do anything except drive up the price?

    Weapons purchased legally in the Rawalpindi shops are typically 10 times as expensive as those readily available on the black market in Northwest Frontier Province and its capital, Peshawar, a historical hub for weapon smuggling from Afghanistan.

  9. Indeed --and yes, Fox is the most watched in the U.S. and slants conservative -or it seems like a slant because we hear the conservative side there with the other.

    But that doesn't mean most people watch FOX - just the conservatives. The liberals are split between NBC, CBS, MSNBC, ABC, CNN --to name a few.
    Some cable stations make people pay extra for FOX --and if you didn't have cable, you could only get the former big 3, abc, nbc, cbs --and if you had an antenna and lived in the country like my mother, you were lucky to get in one clear news station, guaranteed to emphasize deaths in Iraq and opposition to Bush. Again, I don't think Iraq really was the issue --I think it was abortion and gay marriage. The hatred of the left for the right is rooted in hatred of the religious right and their stands on these 2 issues. Bet I'm right. All the other issues were used to get the Democrats in --but the bedrock concerns of leftist media elites are the social issues and the Christians.

    Yes, I favor freedom of the press and free speech--and we should be ever vigilant against libel and suppression. At the same time, I oppose that "fairness doctrine" that says conservative supported and sponsored networks and programs have to give equal time to their opposition. Let them buy their own programming --and put their money where their mouths are.

  10. My "indeed" was to Mike's question on freedom of the media. Agreeing with him on that point. Bob got in there between us.