I will always remember with vivid clarity exactly where I was standing that September morning five years ago when our world was changed forever. The sad memories of a Carolina blue sky that beautiful fall morning couldn’t be less pertinent as compared to where we stand headed into the future.
In the weeks following that horrific morning, the country was unified, determined to fight an enemy unlike any we had ever encountered. Sadly, that unity has long since disappeared from the public discourse. Yet, since September 11, we have established democracy in Afghanistan, freeing millions from an oppressive Taliban regime in which women were prisoners in their own homes. We have captured or killed many al Qaeda operatives, leaving Osama bin Laden’s terror apparatus with serious damage. And yet, we cannot cover ourselves in a blanket of false security; radical extremism knows defeat only in death.
The federal government has utilized many programs in its efforts to keep us safe from future attacks. President Bush, on the fifth anniversary of the attacks, renewed the promise he made five years ago to use all tools legal and necessary to fight this global war on terror. Vice President Cheney recently told a reporter that the fact that we haven’t been attacked since 9/11 is not an accident. Yet in this post-9/11 age of partisan exploitation of what should be non-political issues, anything is fair game, including classified government programs.
In December 2005, the New York Times leaked a classified program used by the National Security Agency to gather intelligence by conducting warrantless wiretaps of phone calls into and out of America by suspected terrorists. While most Americans hoped Congress would express outrage over the leak by the Old Gray Lady, Sen. Russ Feingold (D.-Minn.), and later a majority of congressional Democrats, instead expressed outrage that such a program existed, citing civil liberties violations despite the fact that every president since 1978 has authorized warrantless wiretaps for intelligence purposes. The great immortal giant FDR imprisoned Japenese-Americans throughout World War II; I sincerely doubt he’d bat an eye at wiretapping suspected terrorists without a warrant.
Today’s Democrats, however, cringe at the very notion of a global War on Terror, much as they were flabbergasted when Ronald Reagan labeled the Soviet Union an evil empire, invoking God and Jesus in the process. In fact, the rhetoric from Feingold, Pelosi, et al has become so outlandish and threatening that, according to the Washington Post, CIA agents are now purchasing insurance to cover any legal costs in the event that rumors of Democrats subpoenaing counter-terror officials if they take Congress in November are indeed true.
That, of course, wasn’t the end of Feingold’s foolery; he later introduced a measure to censure the president for wiretapping people reasonably suspected of having the same evil ideology of those who would have murdered Sen. Feingold and his colleagues, had it not been for the heroes aboard United 93. In August 2006, British intelligence services thwarted a massive plot to blow up jetliners headed to the U.S. The press minimized the fact that (surprise!) warrantless surveillance, including wiretaps, was key to the arrests made in London.
The naivety of today’s seriously derailed Democratic Party does not end with seeking an end to warrantless wiretaps. Democrats further advocate a more diplomatic approach to the War on Terror. If by that they mean negotiating with groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, they live in a different world. As I have said in previous columns, when a group believes that the murder of innocent men, women, and children will be rewarded with 72 virgins in Paradise with Allah, there is no negotiation. Either we kill them, or they kill us. It’s black and white.
With midterm elections fast approaching, we have a choice to make. We can bring the fight to the terrorists, utilizing every tool available to us, or we can blow smoke over violating the civil liberties of people who wish us harm. We are not merely choosing representatives or senators, we are choosing our future, our strategy in this monumental war. If we want to learn from 9/11, vote Republican. If you want Nancy Pelosi as speaker, vote Democrat.