What do plots to blow up National Guard armories and synagogues, 9/11, well-intentioned liberals, the War on Terror, and residue from the Vietnam era have in common?Ã?â?? Â They all are playing out in California in three seemingly unconnected stories.Ã?â?? Â
The first story is about three men arrested for plotting to attack California National Guard facilities, the Israeli Consulate and synagogues. The men, one a Pakistani national and the other two, American converts to Islam, were found with weapons and “jihadist” material.
The second story involves a liberal Democratic California state senator who has been making headlines with his allegations that the California National Guard set up a spy unit that was engaged in conducting domestic surveillance on Americans.
The third and final story regards the growing revelations that a Pentagon-based military unit known as “Able Danger” identified the 9/11 hijackers by name a year before the attacks but were blocked by Clinton Administration Pentagon lawyers from alerting the FBI to their presence in America. In addition, September 11th Commission staffers were told of this fact more than once but chose to ignore the information, probably to cover for the Clinton Administration’s bungling of information that could have saved thousands of lives.
The common thread in all of these stories is how largely disconnected both the elites and the person in the street have become with their military. This disconnection, spawned in the anti-war days of the 1960s, manifests itself in many ways, from a widening gulf of perception between the defenders and the defended, with everyday Americans content to simply live their lives while others unseen carry the mortal fight to the enemy to politicians ready to think the worst of military volunteers, both professionals and citizen-soldiers.
Today, only 31% of the members of Congress ever served in uniform, compared to 13% percent of the adult population. In the 1970s, more than 70% of all U.S. senators and representatives were veterans. In California, the percentage of lawmakers with any military service is even lower than in Congress, with only 11 of 120 members of the state legislature, or 9%, being veterans.
Of course, this lack of first-hand familiarity with the armed forces shapes the actions of opinion makers as they interface with the military. Elected officials who came of age during the Vietnam era often more readily believe that the U.S. military is a seriously flawed institution composed of people who cannot be trusted. After all, people who voluntarily join the military signal their willingness to defend the Constitution, even if that means killing the enemies of the Constitution to do it.
So, coming back to California, State Sen. Joe Dunn (D.-Garden Grove) has launched an investigation into whether the California National Guard was spying on a group of anti-war protesters. The basis of Sen. Dunn’s concern is a chain of e-mails between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s press office and a now-retired Guard officer who wrote of a planned protest, that “our Intell. folks … continue to monitor” the event. In this case, “continue to monitor” are the words of interest. Sen. Dunn sees this as evidence of the military spying on Americans while Guard officials assert that all they were doing was monitoring television news and other media reports of the protests for any indications of violence that might require the assistance of the National Guard in its role of backing up the police if a riot started and got out of hand.
Predictably, the “monitored” anti-war groups did not believe the military’s account and planned to protest the Guard’s headquarters. Members of such groups will never be satisfied with anything the U.S. military says or does, as they see the armed forces as tools of death, repression, and American world domination.
Members of the armed forces know full well the restrictions under which they operate. They swear an oath to defend the Constitution and deeply appreciate why we have civilian control of the military. Further, members of the intelligence community in America are also well aware of clear rules in place since Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12333 in 1981 that prohibited U.S intelligence from conducting “Physical surveillance of a United States person in the United States” unless that person is or was employed by the military.
So, where does all this leave us today?
We are fighting a war against Islamo-fascist terrorists. In this war, some policy makers persist in reacting strongly against any domestic action the military takes to protect America as well as military assets from attack. Hence, the Able Danger unit in the Pentagon was barred by lawyers under the Clinton Administration from sharing information on the 9/11 terrorists with the FBI a year before the 9/11 attacks. This parallels California, where Sen. Dunn’s actions put the California National Guard on the defensive as it tries to provide for a common defense even as three terrorists were arrested for targeting California synagogues and National Guard facilities.
The Able Danger revelations tell us that the residue from the Vietnam-era anti-war movement may have killed over 3,000 Americans in 9/11 by immobilizing our ability to defend ourselves. Military professionals on active duty or in reserve status have no interest in spying on their fellow Americans. They know it is wrong. Let’s allow them–no encourage them–to do the job they volunteered to do in the first place.