Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Law Enforcement Approach to Terrorism Failed

Barak Obama once again reveals his abysmal ignorance of counterterrorism:

And, you know, let's take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks -- for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

Well, no, not actually. We were able to catch some of them because they were in New York, and the terrorists blundered terribly. But we didn't catch them all. The one who actually built the bomb used to attack the trade center in 1993 got away and found refuge in Iraq as Saddam's guest. His name is Abdul Rhaman Yasin, and he is still at large. Another who got away and was never captured was Khaled Shaikh Mohammed, who later came back and finished the job of destroying the World Trade Center by masterminding the attack on 9-11.

Nor were any of the perpetrators of the attack on the Cole ever caught. Or the attacks on US embassies.

The overall effect of this campaign of law enforcement was to convince Al Qaeda that the US would do nothing effective to opposed their terrorist activities. They assumed that with the attack on 9-11 that the US would give up and run, withdrawing from the Middle East, and that is why they decided to attack. Thanks to Clinton's counterterrorism policies, they didn't dream that they were in any danger from a meaningful US response.

But, following the attack on 9-11, the US did not retreat from the Middle East. Instead Afghanistan and Iraq were both invaded because they were international terrorist sponsoring nations, and as a result of those policies and others, including detentions of terrorists at GITMO, there have been no further attacks on the US mainland and Al Qaeda is generally thought to be in a moribund state.

The lesson of history ought to be clear. A return to Obama's law enforcement approach to terrorism, which is really Clinton's old policy, will put us all in greater danger and will embolden terrorists by convincing them that the days of inaction by the USA have returned.