12 Nov 2009

Right-Wingers: "Gov’t Can’t Run the DMV or Health Care, But It Will Keep Us Safe From Terrorists"

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Much to my chagrin, I can remember when I was in junior high (or thereabouts) and had a heated argument with my aunt about drug legalization. She was trying to bring up compassion for the drug users etc., and I said, “What about compassion for the crack babies?!” (I was very good with indignant non sequiturs in those days, and perhaps I still am.)

One of the things that really made me rethink my views was when I learned that they couldn’t even keep drugs out of prisons. In other words, even when the government literally has people in cages and only state employees interact with them, and the “border” is truly protected, the government still can’t manage to keep people from using drugs. So if they can’t achieve their objections even in that environment, how in the world are they going to achieve a Drug Free America (TM)?

I think right-wingers who support the War On Terror (TM) and the Patriot Act–regrettable necessities but they keep us safe–should really think hard about this news story:

Army Wasn’t Told of Hasan’s Emails

The Pentagon said it was never notified by U.S. intelligence agencies that they had intercepted emails between the alleged Fort Hood shooter and an extremist imam until after last week’s bloody assaults, raising new questions about whether the government could have helped prevent the attack.

A top defense official said federal investigators didn’t tell the Pentagon they were looking into months of contacts between Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki. The imam knew three of the Sept. 11 hijackers and hailed Maj. Hasan as a “hero” after the shooting last week at Fort Hood that left 13 people dead.

“Based on what we know now, neither the United States Army nor any other organization within the Department of Defense knew of Maj. Hasan’s contacts with any Muslim extremists,” the official said.

The Pentagon comments fueled a growing dispute among various branches of the government about whether Maj. Hasan should have been more deeply investigated before he allegedly walked into a crowded soldier-readiness center at Fort Hood and opened fire.

A person familiar with the matter said a Pentagon worker on a terrorism task force overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation was told about the intercepted emails several months ago. But members of terror task forces aren’t allowed to share such information with their agencies, unless they get permission from the FBI, which leads the task forces.

In this case, the Pentagon worker, an employee from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, helped make the assessment that Maj. Hasan wasn’t a threat, and the FBI’s “procedures for sharing the information were never used,” said the person familiar with the matter.

So the above suggests to me that even if we gave up enough civil liberties to transform the entire country into one big military barracks, we still couldn’t trust the government to protect us from obvious terrorist threats.

Since that’s the case, I vote that we don’t give up our civil liberties and test the theory.

Of course, what will happen is that they will “streamline agency cooperation” and implement other reforms, so that the above doesn’t happen again. Just like Fannie and Freddie and General Motors will keep revising their procedures every time they lose another few billion dollars.

“Just give us some more money and liberty, we’ll get it right eventually. We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”

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