Ohio is a Major Front of the Global War on Terror???

Apparently so.

The link above will take you to a report about an Ohio native that conspired to use “Weapons of Mass Destruction against tourists in Germany”. Let us take a look at the implications.

Places like Columbus, Ohio were what the sophisticates had in mind when they coined the phrase “flyover country”. Natives here call Ohio’s capitol city “Cowtown”, and it isn’t always meant with wry affection. I personally like to put a positive spin on things and claim that it is the world’s largest small town.

Yet we have a native son who was not only working to assemble something which would kill indiscriminately but he planned on setting it off in another country, located on another continent.

Aiding him in this endeavor were two immigrants who had plans of their own. The guy born in Kashmir wanted to help al Qaeda destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, while the other from Somalia was interested in setting off bombs in an Ohio shopping mall during the Christmas season. Both of the immigrants had been recruited by al Qaeda while overseas, and one of them had even received some military-style training at a secret base in Ethiopia.

So a guy from Somalia trains as a terrorist in Ethiopia before hooking up with a guy from Kashmir and a local in Columbus, Ohio. They plan on causing mass death in Germany, in Columbus, and committing an act of sabotage by destroying one of America’s most iconic landmarks located in New York.

Global War on Terror, indeed.

The only reason why none of these terrible plans came to fruition is because of Bush’s supposedly illegal wiretapping project. FBI agents approached the erstwhile bridge saboteur and managed to turn him. With a double agent in place, the evidence gathered was sufficient to convict them all.

If international terrorist groups like al Qaeda have plots hatching in the very heart of America’s heartland, what must it be like in those places where things are happening? How many terrorist cells are scheming and gathering materials for their dark work this very minute in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Washington, DC?

Just a thought to speed you on your way on this fine summer day.

(Hat tip to Glenn, Gateway Pundit, and I cross posted this essay at Hell in a Handbasket.)

15 thoughts on “<i>Ohio</i> is a Major Front of the Global War on Terror???”

  1. The problem with the wiretapping isn’t that taps themselves, it is that the Bush administration wanted to do them with absolutely no oversight. According to the rules they didn’t want to follow, they could legally tap for 2 or 3 days, but needed to get a special judges approval to continue. I don’t imagine a judge would have a problem approving this sort of tap.

  2. BTW. Unsolicited commercial. If you live in Central Ohio and are concerned about home grown terrorists, or even home invasion robberies, Jim is your man. Hire him to train you in self defense and to help you secure your home.

  3. The real problem here is the concept of a military “front.” We’re fighting a war without defined areas of conflict. Fighting happens anywhere and anyone may be involved. We no longer have any separation between battlefield and peaceful areas or soldier and civilian.

    More importantly for matters of law, we also increasingly see little separation between native and foreign. People, goods and communications flow unimpeded across legal borders.

  4. Anonymous 10:43,

    According to the rules they didn’t want to follow, they could legally tap for 2 or 3 days, but needed to get a special judges approval to continue.

    That is incorrect, there is no ability tap any specific person for any period of time. Instead, because we must read all communications before we know if we have the legal authority to read them, the NSA can cache suspect communications for 48 hours, pending a warrant. However, under the old rules, you cannot read the communications unless you possess independent information that the U.S. resident involved is involved in terrorist activities.

    The real debate over “wiretapping” (the term is archaic and doesn’t apply to contemporary technology) is whether communications monitoring can be used to discover plots or whether it can only be used to confirm suspicions raised by other sources of information.

  5. (I’m anonymous 10:43)

    If we give unlimited power to intelligence agencies, we will undoubtedly catch more terrorists. Some of them will even be legitimate terrorists. Similarly, if we no longer require probable cause and warrants, the police will have a much easier time catching criminals.

    I don’t object to the stated desires to use communications intercepts to catch terrorists. I object to doing it without oversight. I’d rather we miss a terrorist or two than become a police state–In part because I don’t want to live in a police state, but also because if we become a police state, we will breed homegrown terrorists.

  6. Sevesteen,

    I object to doing it without oversight.

    Nobody is suggestion otherwise. What they are suggesting however, is that the civil criminal model, in which the crime itself serves as the base information needed to justify all subsequent investigation (including “wiretaps”), simply will not work in trying to prevent terrorist attacks.

    How could you get a warrant to monitor someone’s communications when the only evidence you have that justifies the warrant is the communications that you cannot legally monitor?

    We use civil warrants to discover who committed a crime. The results of the crime itself provides the seed information which bootstraps the justification for all other investigation. With terrorism, we want to go trolling for information which will allow us to prevent an attack.

    I’d rather we miss a terrorist or two than become a police state…

    Yes, a lot of people have that simplistic model. However, liberal orders are far more likely to collapse due to an inability to provide security than they are to gradually evolve into authoritarianism. It’s safer to give slightly to much power to the state than it is to give it to little. If we had possessed a slightly more aggressive intelligence protocol prior to 9/11 and paid less attention to civil rights worries, we might have prevented 9/11 and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  7. A bit off-topic but not irrelevant: Switching channels, I heard a discussion by secretaries of state (Albright, Baker, etc.). Colin Powell said his first advice to an incoming secretary of state would be to close Guatanamo and proceed with criminal trials. I was struck with the sense that we had a President who thought we were at war and a Secretary of State who thought that 9/11, etc. was a crime. I haven’t read Feith’s book, but surely this speaks to the core of the tensions he apparently describes. And, of course, obliquely, it relates to wire tapping and differing senses of how close might be the chaos and disasters Shannon posits.

    I suspect anonymous would make a case for Powell’s position and Shannon’s for Bush’s. But I don’t really see how both can present a united front in terms of policy choices. (No, I don’t know what or where I was watching; I just keep the tv on more than I should.)

  8. Shannon:

    “How could you get a warrant to monitor someone’s communications when the only evidence you have that justifies the warrant is the communications that you cannot legally monitor?”

    Are you saying that the government should have the right to monitor the content of all overseas communication because a tiny fraction of it might be terrorist related?

    My understanding of how the version the Bush administration didn’t want to follow works: Sam is a known terrorist, we have a warrant, and are monitoring his communications. Joe calls (or emails)Sam. This gives us a lead on Joe, we can monitor Joe for a time (I think it was 72 hours) while we present evidence to a special judge. The judge decides if we can continue. If Fred contacts Joe, you check Fred out, etc. We could also look at who contacted who without oversight, and in some cases use those patterns as probable cause–Judicial oversight is only necessary to get to the content.

  9. Are you saying that the government should have the right to monitor the content of all overseas communication because a tiny fraction of it might be terrorist related?

    I say yes, he should be able to.

    Monitoring of these communications is to protect the United States and its people from acts of war. As such , we are combatting those enemies on a war footing. Don’t be deceived.. the people who want to harm the US and Americans are at war against us. They are not criminals.

    As such, the evidence or information received by this intelligence should therefore not be allowed to be used in Court against US Citizens in a criminal case.

    The Constutional protections were to protect the Citizens against having illegal evidence be used against them in a court case. The Constitutional provisions were not designed to make the United States vulnerable to attack.

    If the information received by this monitor does uncover crimes being done by US Citizens then perhaps Congress can come up with a way that the Executive and Judicial branch can have the intellegence information be legitimized or delegitmized on a case by case basis.

  10. Why limit monitoring to overseas communication then? Doesn’t the same logic work for domestic communication?

    Where is the line–How much of the separation of powers do we throw out in the name of safety?

  11. Sevesteen,

    Sam is a known terrorist…

    Stop right there. How do we know that Same is a terrorist? Where did this critical information that bootstraps everything else come from? Remember, we have next to zero human intelligence assets and it will take a decade or more to build any. Signal intelligence is the only intelligence we really have.

    Joe calls (or emails)Sam

    Oh can you possibly know that in a world of disposable cell phones, anonymous email, anonymous web sites, etc? People can carry on a continuous conversation without ever using the same medium or account twice. You’re still think of the old days of analog telephones were a physical wire ran to a particular phone in a particular physical location. It’s physically impossible to monitor just one person anymore! You have to fish for messages in a many different media that fit a pattern.

    Why limit monitoring to overseas communication then? Doesn’t the same logic work for domestic communication?

    Another anachronism. There is no longer any physical separation between domestic and foreign communications. Foreign communications pass through U.S. territory and calls between domestic parties cross international borders.

    The basic problem that the Bush administration faced in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 is that the law had not caught up with technology.

    I think we need to deal with the problem by creating an iron separation between the military and the civil police. Terrorism is a military problem and should be addressed with an entirely separate set of rules than civil crime. Scrutiny should be directed at making sure that military powers don’t bleed over into the civil system.

  12. It sounds like you’re saying “If we claim we’re fighting terrorism, we get to do almost anything–The law can catch up later, rights are an anachronism”.

  13. Sevesteen,

    Rights are not anachronisms rather you understanding of the technological realities. If you laws presume that an individual only has one means of electronic communication e.g. analog telephone. then they will fail in internet age.

    Unfortunately, nobody really thought about this prior to 9/11 and the Bush administration was faced with having to fight a war and didn’t have time to wait around for the technicalitiesto be sorted out. Nobody has shown much interest in dealing with the matter since preferring to strike moral poises and play like it’s 1973 again.

    I do find it interesting that so many people seem to think that a large body of law exist that covers all new circumstances and technologies and that the executive never has to innovate on the fly.

  14. I’m going to have to side with Shannon on this one, Sevesteen.

    I have a healthy respect and reverence for the rights I enjoy as a citizen of this country, but those rights aren’t automatically granted to citizens of other countries who are performing actions outside of the US. To think otherwise is risible.

    The idea of collecting evidence on foreign nationals who live where the US does not have a police agency, and then presenting that evidence to an American judge to get a warrant so the calls made in that foreign country can be monitored here in the US, is absurd.

    The majority of the other countries in the world do not have freedom of the press, freedom of speech, or freedom of religion. These American constructs end at the border, and I would be extremely dim if I traveled to foreign lands and insisted that I could act as if they still held sway simply because I happen to be from a place where they flourish.

    Yet, for some reason I cannot fathom, you seem to be saying that every person in the world must be granted the full protection of our own treasured rights, no matter which citizenship they hold or whether or not they are even inside the US!

    Should the US monitor calls where one or both of the parties is outside of the US, looking for terrorist activity? Sure. You bet!

    One other thing. I’m not a lawyer, and I haven’t even worked as a police officer, but I did have a job in law enforcement for awhile. (I was a fingerprint technician.) People keep saying that international terrorism should be handled as a police problem, which is essentially what you are saying here. This is also absurd.

    Without a fully staffed police force inside the countries that terrorists use as sanctuaries and recruiting centers, we cannot gather evidence, interview witnesses and suspects, or even arrest and detain wanted terrorists. All of the American controlled resources that make police work possible inside the US simply do not exist in other countries, even if the governments in those countries agree to cooperate.


  15. I’m not saying that non-citizens get all our rights. I am saying that people with power need oversight–We need some way to ensure that they really are using their power to fight terrorism. I understand there are legitimate security concerns that prevent regular people from knowing the details–That is the purpose of judicial oversight. Without oversight, we don’t know what they are doing, who they are investigating or whether they are remaining legal. The oversight rules seemed minimal and reasonable, and included ways to deal with situations without waiting for a judge. I can’t see a legitimate reason to want to avoid them.

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