: Dan Gillmor has spent too much time out of the country going to weblog conferences. He gets back on our shores and goes batty over a Jimmy Breslin column decrying the Justice Department over the arrest and guilty plea of Lyman Faris.

Breslin does his usual hysterical rant.

Gillmor threatens to leave America and journalism:

The travesty is, first, that our government now operates a secret criminal justice system, because Congress doesn’t care enough about liberty to stop a power-mad Bush administration from tearing up the Constitution.

The second travesty, as Breslin trenchantly observes, is the spinelessness of my chosen profession. I am ashamed to be a journalist when I realize how far down the road we have gone toward utter deference to power.

Why are journalists not screaming bloody murder about this case? Sloth no longer suffices to explain our negligence?

I cringe for my profession. I fear for America.

Easy, boy.

This is what Time magazine says about Faris, without all the emotion:

Iyman Faris, 34, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kashmir, had pleaded guilty at the beginning of May to providing material support to al-Qaeda. Not only had he scoped out the Brooklyn Bridge as part of a plot to destroy the New York City landmark, but he had also tried to obtain equipment to help derail a train near the nation’s capital. The feds had done more than nab a truck driver from Columbus, Ohio, who was leading what Ashcroft called “a secret double life,” a man determined to wreak havoc right here in the U.S. They had turned one of Osama bin Laden’s loyal foot soldiers into another breed entirely: double agent for the U.S.

Now I think John Ashcroft is a dangerous fanatic but that’s not the issue here.

The Justice Department did good work. They nabbed an al-Qaeda operative who was trying to launch more terrorist attacks; they stopped him from attacking; and they used him to gain more sorely needed terrorist intelligence. This will save lives.

That’s what you do in a war. That’s what you do with criminals. The guy pleaded guilty. He sang like a mafia rat because they had the goods on him. He made a deal. And we got the good end of that deal, as well we should.

Twice last week, I talked with people from the West Coast, who seemed to be downplaying the ongoing impact of terrorism on America.

Well, here on the East Coast, we still take terrorism very seriously. Look at that picture below, where the World Trade Center used to be. Now tell me it was a bad thing that we got a confederate of the people who did that, a man who planned to do more of the same, a man who could lead us to yet more of the slime.

I don’t think I’ll leave America, or journalism.