Monday, December 26, 2005

Protecting the Dots

I've never understood how the Left can say that Iraq distracts us from the real war against al Qaeda when the Left doesn't believe we are at war. How else can the Left go nuts over gathering intelligence against the enemy in a legal manner that administrations under both parties have defended for thirty years?

Let's put the issue very simply. The president has the power as commander in chief under the Constitution to intercept and monitor the communications of America's enemies. Indeed, it would be a very weird interpretation of the Constitution to say that the commander in chief could order U.S. forces to kill America's enemies but not to wiretap -- or, more likely these days, electronically intercept -- their communications. Presidents have asserted and exercised this power repeatedly and consistently over the last quarter-century.
What I don't understand is how the Left can decry methods that are much more benign than the methods of their much-loved European models:

Spying on e-mail and cell phone traffic without a warrant. Searching offices and residences without a court order. Locking citizens away for weeks or months without filing charges.

Sound like your worst nightmare about the supposedly lawless Bush administration? Perhaps. But I refer to restrictions on civil liberties that are taking place not in the United States but, in the order in which I cited them, Canada, France and Great Britain.
But of course, if you want to connect the dots to prevent a terrorist attack, you have to know what the dots are (via Real Clear Politics):

The New York Times concedes the story starts with the CIA capture of top al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. With Zubaydah's capture came a treasure trove of eavesdropping intelligence sources -- e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers, and personal phone directories. These are prime intelligence sources that may lead to the infamous "dots" often used in the phrase "Why didn't our intelligence agencies 'connect the dots?' "

Of course, if your motive is really to set up the administration to complain about why they didn't connect the dots, then it makes sense to obstruct all legal efforts to identify dots and what other dots they talk to.

Quite the dilemma for our government. We can't wage war if the Left has its way. And we can't spy on our enemies if the Left has its way. I'm reasonably sure the Left must have some other way to react to being attacked other than just surrendering.

But other than just counting on the good will of our enemies to stop killing us, I'll be darned if I can come up with it.

This whole new plastic turkey issue will die out as the Hysterical Americans scream themselves into exhaustion. The issue also supports what I've long asserted: protecting our civil rights in the long run requires us to go on the offensive and defeat our enemies where they begin their journeys to slamming into our buildings. If we sit on the defensive and let them come here, every time they succeed in hitting us, we'll have to ramp up our passive defenses and erode our civil liberties.

Then we'd be just like the much-admired (by our Left) Europeans who refuse to wage war in their own defense.

Instead, I say we spy on the dots and then just kill them.