2006-02-03 / Columnists

The Rockaway Irregular

An Interesting Thought Experiment
by Stuart W. Mirsky

Recently writing in the New York Sun, author Warren Kozak poses the following question: “Imagine this,” he says, “...It’s August 11, 2001, and a report surfaces that Attorney General John Ashcroft has just ordered the FBI to arrest four Arab nationals living here in America. They have committed no crime, unless you consider going to strip clubs a crime. Standing at the podium at the Justice Department, Mr. Ashcroft presents a story that sounds, even to hard-core supporters, pretty fantastic.”

Ashcroft, says Kozak, informs the public that the arrested individuals have been attending “flight schools here in the United States, using our liberal immigration laws to learn how to fly large commercial jetliners, which they plan to commandeer with box-cutters and crash into skyscrapers.” Moreover, Ashcroft makes clear that these people are “not from refugee hellholes but are all college graduates from upper middle class homes... Their ringleader, Mohammed Atta, is the son of an Egyptian lawyer... all here legally. And adds Kozak, “here’s the icing on the cake: The attorney general learned all of this from wiretaps.”

Mindboggling. Can you just see it, asks Kozak: “...the investigative articles... on the front page of the New York Times... the sarcasm in Maureen Dowd’s column on the following day directed not toward the Arabs but the attorney general... and, of course, the president?”

Kozak’s point is compelling. After all, how different is this scenario from what the U.S. government is doing now to protect us all from future terrorist attacks? And yet this is precisely the kind of thing critics like the New York Times, which seems to have abandoned any pretense of journalistic evenhandedness in the present cycle, are castigating Bush for in the wake of recent revelations about wiretaps of U.S. citizens and residents in touch with al Qaeda by telephone. At the same time it’s precisely what they blame Bush and his team for  not having done in time to protect us from the attacks of 9/11. How many ways do they want to have it?

Indeed, how likely is it the U.S. government would have even been able to use today’s tools in the pre-9/11 environment? How likely that America’s elites and media would have supported such an effort before 9/11, particularly in light of the seemingly far-fetched scenario which actually did occur on that fateful day when terrorists  did commandeer  U.S. jetliners with boxcutters and fly them on suicide missions into U.S. skyscrapers and the Pentagon, killing some 3,000 innocent people?

In light of all of the furor surrounding Patriot Act renewal and accusations of warrantless wiretapping, isn’t it time we Americans saw things in a little perspective? Isn’t it time we recognized a real enemy when we see one and support the actions necessary to defend ourselves and defeat that enemy? Isn’t it time news purveyors like the New York Times ceased what appears to be little less than a private war against the Bush administration and start recognizing the grim realities which face us and have faced us since the attacks of September 11, 2001... realities which the Bush administration has been working assiduously to deal with?

Why are the New York Times and many other agents of mainstream media so blind to all this? And why are the Democrats, both leadership and rank-and-file, so committed to undermining the Bush administration’s efforts to do exactly what they have skewered the Bush administration for not having done before 9/11? Could it have anything to do with politics do you think? Could it maybe reflect the intense desire by those who may best be described as anti-Republicans (consisting of Democrats, most mainstream media reporters and editors, and academic elites) to drive the present administration from office, regardless of the real interests of our nation?


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