Lessons from the Times Square Dud
A Commentary By Debra J. Saunders
Eventually, even a stupid terrorist can get lucky. So why are so many people who think they're so smart so quick to dismiss the very dangers that threaten American lives?
Enter New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who became the poster politician for jumping to blame the wrong folks without cause.
Before the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, Bloomberg told CBS' Katie Couric, "If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that, somebody, homegrown, maybe a mentally deranged person or somebody with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill or something, it could be anything."
After the arrest of Shahzad, who was born in Pakistan, Bloomberg became a statesman. He warned about any backlash against Pakistanis or Muslims. "We will not tolerate any bias," quoth Bloomberg.
I won't be the last person to observe that Bloomberg had little problem with bias when he saw an opportunity to scapegoat a lone right-wing nut. He wised up later.
Let us hope that this incident serves as a wake-up call to those who have nothing better to do than predict violence from critics of ObamaCare. There are forces in this country that really do want to kill and intimidate dissenters -- and they are not shy about their jihad. Witness a prominent death threat against Comedy Central because of its "South Park" cartoon portrayal of the prophet Muhammad in a bear costume.
To its credit, the Obama administration has learned a few things since Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to blow up a plane in Detroit. Remember when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano pronounced "the system worked," even though passengers had succeeded where the security system failed? Later, Napolitano had to take back that statement.
The U.S. Department of Justice says he cooperated during questioning for an unknown period under the "public safety exception," and then Mirandized him, after which he continued to cooperate. Wednesday's talk-show controversy revolved around if officials should have delayed reading any suspect his Miranda rights when it is possible he might have vital information about foreign elements planning imminent attacks.
At least Shahzad -- unlike Abdulmutallab -- is a naturalized U.S. citizen, who will be tried in a civilian court. But I can't shake the nagging suspicion that the Obama Justice Department is so bent on accommodating would-be terrorists' civil rights that it is willing to forfeit short-lived opportunities to glean information needed to prevent potential attacks in the works.
On the Sunday talk-show circuit, Napolitano voiced her belief that the Times Square dud was a "one-off" event -- which some conservatives interpreted as Napolitano once again dismissing the incident as the work of a "lone wolf."
Au contraire, a Homeland Security official assured Foreign Policy magazine's The Cable blog, Napolitano was "referencing that at that time, there was no evidence to suggest that there were other trucks parked with explosives in other parts of New York or other cities across the country. Law enforcement expects that kind of threat assessment from us."
But how could she know that there were no other attacks planned the day before authorities pulled Shahzad off a Dubai-bound plane? It is impossible to take her seriously.
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