Saturday, April 07, 2007

Chertoff the 'Crime Czar'

The strongest evidence that the U.S. is not only losing the "war on terror," but will be struck again with perhaps greater force, is the siege mentality of those charged with protecting the nation. Instead of destroying the states that sponsor terrorism, the U.S. is conducting the "war" as though the enemy was some kind of super-Mafia gang whose members had to be detected and deterred. All we need do, goes the thinking, is identify the bad guys and keep them from entering the country. It elects to fight enemies dedicated to destroying this country with the methods suitable to Eliot Ness in his pursuit of bootleggers.

The Daily Telegraph (London) on April 4th offered an insight to this mentality in an interview in Washington of Michael Chertoff, Director (or Secretary) of Homeland Security, "Briton 'could stage another September 11'," pending his visit to Britain for talks with John Reid, the Home Secretary.

"We need to build layers of protection," said Chertoff in the interview, "and I don't think we totally want to rely upon the fact that a foreign government is going to know that one of their citizens is suspicious and is going to be coming here."
"Layers of protection"? Is the U.S. to be turned into "Fortress America"? At what price? And with what consequences?

Chertoff told the interviewer, Toby Harnden, in an unintended but revealing admission of his ignorance of the nature of Islam and Islamic jihad:

"Our Muslim population is better educated and economically better off than the average American. So, from a standpoint of mobility in society, it's a successful immigrant population. To some degree, the whole country is a country of immigrants, and therefore there's no sense that we have insiders or outsiders. In some countries (Europe), you had an influx of people that came in as a colonial legacy and may have always have felt, to some extent, that they were viewed as second-class citizens, and they've tended to impact and be kind of clustered in some areas."
It is arguable whether or not "our" Muslim population is better educated and economically better off" than Britain's or any other European country's. Most of the 9/11 hijackers came from the educated elites of their countries - most prominently from Saudi Arabia - and the Madrid and 7/7 London Tube bombers were university students or graduates.

Post-colonial era "resentments" have little or nothing to do with Islamic jihad. Most Islamic suicide bombers and advocates of an Islamic conquest of the West are generations removed from the colonial era of the early 20th century, and as ignorant of that period as are most non-Islamic individuals. That history is irrelevant to them. Chertoff, an alleged expert on terrorism, ought to know better than to utter such a transparent misconception.

Further, being an "insider" or an "outsider" in any Western country has nothing to do with whether or not one subscribes to an ideology that sanctions mass murder and destruction. How many American Muslims work under the guise of "civil liberties" to convert this country from a secular one to an Islamic one?

Chertoff wishes Britain and Europe to let the U.S. know who is flying into the country from abroad, and to treat all visitors to the U.S. as potential criminals, complete with fingerprinting and the transmission of everyone's personal histories before flights depart from European airports. That will somehow will prevent the enemy from committing acts of terrorism and keep the country safe.

"We can do a good job with the known terrorists," said Chertoff, "if we have their name (sic), or if we've previously arrested them and have their fingerprint on file."

This is a crime-deterring mentality, not one committed to defeating the enemy or even acknowledging that it is recruited, funded and directed by states that sponsor terrorism. That is, Chertoff can determine that certain money is coming from Iran, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia, but like his chief's, his mind blanks out those facts and refocuses on the recipients of that money, the "bad guys." (Orwell called this brand of mental gymnastics "doublethink.") Chertoff's policies perfectly complement President Bush's approach to national security, which is to defeat "bad guys" who have "hijacked" a religion by fighting fruitless police actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not an ideology.

That ideology is intimately linked to a "great religion," and to attack the ideology would be to implicate the religion and slander its adherents. That is a politically correct prohibition. God forbids it, and so does Allah.

Neither Bush nor Chertoff (not to mention much of this country's political leadership) will allow himself to think of the enemy in terms of states or ideologies. That would be too intellectual, too taxing of their skewed epistemologies and their eclectic notions of cause and effect, and too politically risky.

If one proposed to either of them that instead of turning the U.S. into a police state, in which ordinary, productive citizens must undergo government scrutiny and submit to frisks and searches in the name of national security, the U.S. blast Iran and Syria, and turn the Kaaba in Mecca into a smoking hole of glass and likewise Mohammad's tomb in Medina, one would be answered with either blinks of incomprehension or of horror.

More of the Harnden interview of Chertoff can be found on Harnden's blog. In it, Chertoff remarked on the fact that 9/11 has not been repeated in five years:

"The ideological enemy here has one particular advantage over Western society - they have very, very long memories. They still get worked up over stuff that happened seven or eight hundred years ago. That persistence is the one thing we have to be mindful of, because if we as a society in the West lose interest or become impatient or allow wishful thinking to overcome reality, that is when we will drop our guard, and that is when they will strike again."
Which means that Americans must live in a state of perpetual crisis, and never hope to stop worrying about Islamic terrorists because their government will not deal properly and permanently with that ideological enemy. The molecularization of Mecca and Medina alone would disprove Islam, leaving Islamists and their self-sacrificing soldiers without a ship to sail, and the rank-and-file "moderate" Muslims the task of discovering, among other things, freedom and individualism.

Michael Chertoff looked nicer and more approachable with a goatee and moustache, when he was an assistant U.S Attorney General and a judge on the Third Circuit U.S Court of Appeals. The goatee and moustache are gone now, and his face is one that one would not want to open one's door to in broad daylight, never mind encounter in a dark alley. One can only speculate that the removal of his facial hair was a calculated ploy to look frightening.

Chertoff's career in law is checkered, if not shady. He is the archetype, amoral "careerist" who can rise in political appointments as federal powers expand. He was comfortable as an assistant U.S. Attorney General during the Clinton administration (and may have turned a blind eye on the Vince Foster cover-up and the Whitewater scandal) and is equally comfortable under the Bush administration. Today, he is viewed as a neo-conservative. Under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani he prosecuted with equal vigor the Mafia and Arthur Anderson, the accounting firm, leading to its collapse during the Enron episode. As Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, he was in charge of FEMA when hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

As head of Operation Green Quest, created in October 2001 by Bush to run down Islamic money-laundering activities, Chertoff contributed to the enfeebling of the country's intelligence gathering capabilities by exacerbating existing agency rivalries. And, he was one of the chief drafters of Title III of the Patriot Act, which forces most Americans to account to the federal government for their financial dealings.

And, there is talk that he may replace Attorney General Alberto Gonzales if the latter is forced to resign as a result of his role the U.S. attorney general firings, about which Gonzales apparently lied.

A very frightening prospect, indeed. As Attorney General, Chertoff would view all Americans as potential "bad guys" until they could prove their innocence. He would feel very comfortable with that "crime fighting" approach, as well.


Rob said...

I think Chertoff's desire to turn the US into a police state aligns perfectly with the anti-immigration crowd, who would like to see America's borders sealed off completely. But are these ultra-conservatives - who tend also to be Religious Rightists - hypocrites for supporting the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security while supposedly also supporting the War on Terror? Or are they consistent in the same manner that Bush is consistent in his manner of prosecuting that war?

Anonymous said...

I agree with almost everything you have to say here-the one criticism that I have is your apparent dislike for law enforcement solutions to the problem. Not new laws, but the use of existing law enforcement agencies to track suspects. Long term observation of potential suspects actually has value-look at the law enforcement response in the U.K., where the bobbies actually captured most of the surviving conspirators. If a military solution is called for, make it truly surgical-not a zany Rumsfeld scheme of using a stripped down hit and run military for an occupation. But you can frequently acquire the data for whom to hit using regular law enforcement.

Ed Cline said...

I didn't say I was against "law enforcement methods" to hunt down Islamic 5th columnists here or any of them that have entered the country "illegally" to do harm. My concern that this seems to be the only policy Bush & Co. have adopted. I'm sure that during a real war, such as WWII, the FBI and OSI worked closely together to run down Nazi and Japanese spies here in the U.S. The difference between then and now is that then the U.S. was fighting a true war with every intention of removing the governments that directed the spies and 5th columnists. And, I must hand it to the Brits for the kind of investigative work they're doing in rounding up the killers and wannabe killers. What they need is a new Churchill who wouldn't undermine their efforts. What the U.S. needs is a president with some moral spine, and I don't mean a religious one, either.

Jake Zeise said...

Rob, I have met leftists that support anti-immigration efforts. They may not be a large or vocal proportion, but they exist. The countries that are touted as socialist success stories have draconian immigration policies.

Rob said...

Jake - I grant that such people exist, however, I do not see how that changes my point.

Jake Zeise said...

I wasn't saying it did, sorry to confuse the issue.