Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Well, you just knew the right would find a way to blame Mumbai on American liberalism, didn't you? Or at least on something that looks exactly like American liberalism, namely India's pre-Mumbai approach to jihadist terrorism.

What? You didn't know that India's pre-Mumbai approach to jihadist terrorism was a twin of liberal thought in the United States? Here, let Arthur Herman, the historian, explain it all for you, in National Review:

...The government in New Delhi steadfastly maintains a wall of separation between law-enforcement agencies like the one that used to separate the FBI and CIA before the Patriot Act, and keeps counterterrorist units underfunded and undermanned. It has repeatedly given way to the demands of Islamic radical groups and fundamentalist lobbyists in the name of "cultural sensitivity." India was the first non-Islamic country to ban Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses back in 1988.

India has no preventive detention laws; no laws to protect the identity of anti-terrorist witnesses; and no laws to allow domestic wiretapping without court order. In 2004, the new Congress Party government revoked India's version of the Patriot Act, even as the Indian media was loudly condemning the U.S. for "torture" at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.

In short, the Indian government has waged the war on terror in much the same way that liberals and many Democrats have been urging the U.S. to carry it out....

Never mind the fact that the so-call wall of separation in the U.S. resulted from a misinterpretation of the Clinton-era procedures, as the 9/11 Commission made clear (PDF):

In July 1995, Attorney General Reno issued formal procedures aimed at managing information sharing between Justice Department prosecutors and the FBI....

These procedures were almost immediately misunderstood and misapplied. As a result, there was far less information sharing and coordination between the FBI and the Criminal Division in practice than was allowed under the department's procedures. Over time the procedures came to be referred to as "the wall." The term "the wall" is misleading, however, because several factors led to a series of barriers to information sharing that developed....

The 1995 procedures dealt only with sharing between agents and criminal prosecutors, not between two kinds of FBI agents, those working on intelligence matters and those working on criminal matters. But pressure from the Office of Intelligence Policy Review, FBI leadership, and the FISA Court built barriers between agents -- even agents serving on the same squads. FBI Deputy Director Bryant reinforced the Office's caution by informing agents that too much information sharing could be a career stopper. Agents in the field began to believe -- incorrectly -- that no FISA information could be shared with agents working on criminal investigations.

This perception evolved into the still more exaggerated belief that the FBI
could not share
any intelligence information with criminal investigators, even
if no FISA procedures had been used....

Never mind the fact that liberals in America don't want "counterterrorist units underfunded and undermanned," or "no laws to protect the identity of anti-terrorist witnesses." Never mind the fact that The Satanic Verses remains in print in America.

But protection of witnesses and effective counterterrorism are just tossed in with warrantless wiretaps and preventive detention -- it's all the same. See, there's either repression or surrender; there's no middle ground.

Herman goes on to argue that we in the West -- at least for now -- gather necessary intelligence, while Indians, those "Kumbaya"-singing dupes, don't:

...One reason the Mumbai terrorists sought out Brits and Americans to kill is that they can't get at them in their own countries. The latest report is that those "evil" U.S. intelligence agencies had actually intercepted threats about possible attacks on hotels in Mumbai, and passed them on to their Indian counterparts -- who then failed to take action....

In fact, according to ABC's Brian Ross, advance warning of the Mumbai attack came not only from U.S. intelligence but from an Indian intercept of a Pakistani satellite phone conversation. But pay no attention to that, because it doesn't fit the master narrative: liberalism = no intelligence-gathering = WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE.


There's more of the same on The Wall Street Journal's editorial page:

President-elect Obama said yesterday that terrorists based in South Asia represent "the single, most important threat against the American people." As he prepares to become responsible for American safety, we hope he's also absorbing some of the lessons of the Mumbai massacre.

Mumbai obviously lacks the antiterror resources and police sophistication of New York City. Yet as a similarly open society, America is in many respects just as vulnerable as Mumbai to murderous attacks by gunmen on soft targets such as train stations, hotels and hospitals....

"Mumbai obviously lacks the antiterror resources and police sophistication of New York City"? Er, that's putting it mildly:

...Ill-paid city police are often armed with little more than batons. Even the elite commandos heading the charge against the gunmen this week were slowed by old, bulky bulletproof jackets and had no technology at their disposal to determine where the firepower was coming from inside the sprawling hotels.

Sharpshooters had neither protective gear, nor the high-powered telescopes that their counterparts in Western countries would most likely use in a standoff with terrorists. On Saturday afternoon, a sharpshooter who had spent over 60 hours perched outside the Taj Hotel said neither he nor his partner had fired a shot because they were not sure how to distinguish the gunmen from ordinary civilians trapped inside the hotel....

But the real lesson of Mumbia, to the Journal, is that a police state is all that's preventing Mumbais here:

In the U.S., good intelligence has thwarted several armed terrorist attacks that we know about and, presumably, more that we don't. Five men are currently on trial in Camden, New Jersey, charged with planning an attack on Fort Dix. Three men are serving time for a 2005 plot to blow up military sites, synagogues and other Jewish sites in southern California. The Obama team might want to reconsider their views on the Patriot Act, wiretapping, terrorist interrogation, and other measures that help law-enforcement officials gather crucial data that make it possible to stop such plots.

Um, the California plotters were discovered after cops found evidence of it during a perfectly legal apartment search after a series of gas station robberies. The Fort Dix plotters were discovered thanks to a tip from a Circuit City clerk who'd been asked to process some video. What the hell do those plots have to do with warrantless wiretapping or torture?

But that's the right's message: repression or death. Mumbai is important because of its usefulness in the American right's real war -- against domestic liberalism.

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