Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 6, 2006
WAR: See No Evil, Hear No Evil
As we head into the voting booth it's worth considering one of the most crucial elements of the War on Terror: gathering intelligence. Both parties agree, in theory, that the gathering and analysis of intelligence is hugely important. In a word of shadowy threats that dare not confront us openly, of secret trade in weapons and the infiltration of open societies by terror cells, we must use every means at our disposal to make sure we stay a step ahead of the bad guys - and don't shoot the innocent along the way. Indeed, few Democratic criticisms of the war effort in general and the Iraq War in particular have been given more prominence than the charge that we failed to get the truth about weapons programs that were a closely held secret within a police state.
Yet, at every turn, howls of outrage have been raised on the Left at efforts to gather intelligence. Just think - how do you learn what extremists and hostile states are up to, here and abroad?
*Electronic surveillance? President Bush has sought to expand the use of surveillance both by legislation (the Patriot Act) and through clandestine programs (the NSA program to track Al Qaeda phone calls into the U.S. and the SWIFT program to track international banking transfers). For this he has taken years of intense carping and the media and disgruntled critics within the government have responded by leaking the details of secret surveillance programs on the front pages of the NY Times.
*Questioning captives? Again, the Bush Administration has been subjected to a continuous storm of abuse from its opponents for taking an aggressive tack in questioning detainees, even those at the very top of the Al Qaeda organization or on the tip of the spear of the insurgency in Iraq.
*Informants and turncoats? Democrats in the 1990s, led by NJ Senator Bob Torricelli, sought restrictions on our ability to work with undercover infiltrators of extremist organizations. And, of course, critics of the Iraq War have been arguing for years that we should give no credence to defectors.
*Boots on the ground? The very best intelligence comes from having a continuous military presence in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. The air strike on
True, not every Democrat has been willing to vote against these measures, much as their base and the media have egged them on. But many of the worst of the Democrats on these issues, especially in the House, will ascend to leadership positions if they regain the majority. And the pressure to close our eyes and ears comes from their side, a side that will be ever emboldened by victory tomorrow. Which is why we do well to bear in mind the words of President Bush (h/t Geraghty):
If anybody has any doubts about the differences of opinion in Washington, D.C. between Republicans and Democrats, I want them to analyze the recent votes that took place on these important programs. When it came time to renew the Patriot Act, more than 75 percent of the House Democrats voted against it.