Bob Dole and Bill Clinton are chairing the charity I’ve been waiting for: a scholarship fund for the children and spouses of all the victims of Sept. 11. Read the news story here (or permalink). The Familes of Freedom Scholarship Fund’s home page is here. Just click and donate!
From the Jerusalem Post, experienced Israeli advice on how we should fight this war; and a report that New Yorkers are starting a counterterrorism group.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports on what’s happening to reshape the armed forces to defend the homeland.
The Jerusalem Post’s Top 10 List for us:
1. Avoid panic. While some emotions are properly strong in the aftermath of the attack, others are less appropriate. The terrorists are being handed an additional, if perhaps temporary, victory by the irrational fear of immediate repetitions. The economy is suffering seriously while the airline and travel-related industries are particularly hard-hit.
Shouldn’t someone tell the American people every few hours that if the terrorists needed three to four years to plan this last attack, another one is unlikely to occur soon? A terrible thing has happened, but this doesn’t mean that it is going to take place every week. Osama bin Laden’s forces last struck effectively against US embassies in Africa more than three years ago. His operatives are now heading for cover and it will take them some time to regroup.
2. Focus resources. America is a big, powerful country used to having all the resources needed to meet any goal. But security resources are inevitably limited. Don’t waste assets trying to protect everything or spreading your forces to thin. To cross the ocean and hit America, terrorists are not going to focus on a shopping mall in Muncie, Indiana.
Priority must be put and kept on high-profile targets, especially in New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, along with specific buildings in other key cities.
3. Don’t fight the last war. America is now gearing up to protect itself from a group of terrorists who hijack aircraft using knives and fly them into buildings. Much of the American security strategy seems keyed to preventing precisely the same attacks as those occurring on September 11.
But terrorists, too, read newspapers and know this is happening. Moreover, the whole point of terrorism tactically is an ability to change targets and methods. The next attack could involve anything ranging from renting private planes to chemical warfare, or an Oklahoma-type attack using a car bomb, to just shooting at people. Counterterrorist planners need to have some imagination – but not too much (see point 2, above) – in figuring out the more likely threat and not just a rote repetition of the previous assault.
4. Basic defenses are the most effective ones. With all the attention focused on security failures, a simple but obvious point is being neglected. If the X-ray machines and metal detectors had been run properly, the terrorists probably would not have succeeded.
Rather than invent all sorts of new technology and defensive forces, it would make more sense to ensure that the existing ones perform properly. At a recent congressional hearing, a senator recounted how he had gone through an airport – after the September 11 attack – and those staffing the X-ray machines had been engaged in horse-play rather than paying attention. You don’t need air marshals or armed pilots if you do proper inspections on the ground and keep the cockpit door locked. Most of Israel’s airport security systems have been in use since the 1960s with relatively little change.
5. High-quality people. There is no substitute. In Israel, the best people go into security and intelligence work. At airports, security relations with passengers are handled by bright young people who know the importance of what they’re doing and are especially conscientious because this is their first job. In America, with exceptions of course, those doing this work are there simply because they cannot get other employment.
There was a warning about 15 years ago that the airport security people were paid less than those working at fast-food restaurants. No matter how much you spend on technology or what clever plans you develop, these are only as good as the people implementing them.
Precisely because attacks are so rare, Americans have a very hard time taking security seriously. Given the high levels of crime, though, this is a luxury that cannot be afforded. I visited a famous journalist friend who lives in a community where residents pay thousands of dollars a year for protection. A few days after the attack and practically within sight of the World Trade Center, the guard waved me through when I mentioned my host’s name. It became quickly apparent that he thought I lived there without checking anything. In America, the job title “security guard” is a joke, and it is not unknown that the “guards” may have criminal records themselves.
6. The security issue that dare not speak its name. America is not under attack by tribes from the Amazon river, Eskimos, Polynesians, or Zulus.
Everyone knows this fact, but even to mention it is to invite the most vicious personal attacks and name-calling. But let’s say it for the record: the terrorist attacks on the United States are being planned and implemented by Muslims from the Middle East, primarily Arabs. Therefore, it may be politically correct but it is also politically insane to pretend otherwise.
The great majority of Muslims and Arabs in America (or in the Middle East for that matter) are not involved in such terrorism. The civil liberties of all Americans should be respected. Nevertheless, if intelligence and security resources aren’t focused on this area, then how can anything be effective? Everyone is at great pains to stress that prejudice is wrong and innocent people should not be harassed.
Yet almost no one has pointed out – except for Daniel Pipes – the extremely important point that key Muslim groups, including those invited to meet with President George W. Bush, are controlled by radicals who support terrorism. If the lives of thousands of people are at risk, the importance of being politically correct or not hurting someone’s feelings may seem less significant.
Ethnic profiling does make sense. Anyone who believes this has never stood on line behind a Colombian citizen at an American customs’ station. Surveillance of Islamic and Arab groups in the United States does make sense. There is a valid reason for national and ethnic profiling.
Sorry, but that’s the truth. Ignore it if you want to do so, but understand that this puts lives at risk.
7. Avoid questionable allies: If Iran, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon are invited into an anti-terrorist coalition, can one expect success? Whatever grudge some of these leaders have against the Taliban or desire to get some reward for fooling the United States, are these regimes really going to help fight terrorism?
Let’s face it: When and if the current crisis cools off, bin Laden may be a respected consulting terrorist living in Teheran, Damascus, or Baghdad. These countries are going to sabotage any US military strike or pressures, because they know that similar methods could be used against them some day. They don’t want to turn in the names of terrorists, because they might be hiring them in a few months. Already the US government has been whitewashing such countries as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which it was castigating only weeks ago for their refusal to cooperate in solving previous terrorist attacks against Americans in their countries.
8. Tell the American people the truth about what’s being said in the Arab world and Iran: Most of the statements cited in the American media are formal expressions of regret from Middle Eastern leaders. Yet the support and sympathy for anti-American terrorism is sharply understated.
Here is one example from MEMRI, one of the groups (Palestinian Media Watch should also be mentioned) doing a remarkable job of making this material available. The chairman of the state-sponsored Syrian Arab Writers Association, Ali Uqleh Ursan, wrote in the group’s “intellectual” organ that, on hearing about the attacks, “I felt like someone delivered from the grave; my lungs filled with air and I breathed in relief, as I’d never breathed before.”
And incidentally, he cited American attacks on Korea, Vietnam, and Libya (in addition to support for Israel) as reasons for taking revenge. I have compiled about 300 pages of this material from a wide range of sources since September 11, including many expressions of joy on non-public Islamist chat groups.
9. If you don’t deter today you will pay tomorrow. In 1998, hundreds of people were killed in attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Most of them were black Africans and a number were surely Muslims, though the terrorists didn’t care about that. The American response was a joke: an hour-long bombing attack on Sudan and in Afghanistan. And even this was criticized as excessive by many observers, who questioned whether there was full evidence for hitting the site in Sudan.
If punishments are so limited, why shouldn’t states sponsor terrorists, including bin Laden, and individuals become terrorists? Why aren’t American leaders and opinion makers saying every day: The failure to hit back hard after previous terrorist attacks is one of the main reason why 5,000 people are dead in New York? Such a conclusion certainly suggests the importance of tough – and violent – action today.
10. Listen to those who have been right all along. Instant experts are proliferating everywhere: people who a month ago couldn’t have told you the difference between a Sunni and a Shia Muslim are now expounding on the details of Islamic doctrine and radical Middle East politics.