The war against Islamic fascist terror: who's fighting and winning
Federal Judge T. S. Ellis III has ruled in the case involving two former AIPAC staffers that the federal government can prosecute recipients of leaked classified information.
The Volokh Conspiracy has the story, with excerpts from the judge's opinion. Ellis takes care to note that Congress may want to change the 1917 Espionage Act under which the prosecution was brought. The conclusion that the statute is constitutionally permissible does not reflect a judgment about whether Congress could strike a more appropriate balance between these competing interests, or whether a more carefully drawn statute could better serve both the national security and the value of public debate. . . . the time is ripe for Congress to engage in a thorough review and revision of these provisions to ensure that they reflect both these changes, and contemporary views about the appropriate balance between our nation's security and our citizens' ability to engage in public debate about the United States' conduct in the society of nations.
As I noted in March and May, the New York Times and Washington Post reporters who wrote the NSA surveillance and CIA prisons stories stand in the same legal shoes as the two former AIPAC staffers who are being prosecuted.
Hurray for the British authorities who discovered and thwarted the Islamofascist plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic. And hurray for those who tipped them off.
It all began with a tip: In the aftermath of the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings on London's transit system, British authorities received a call from a worried member of the Muslim community, reporting general suspicions about an acquaintance.
From that vague but vital piece of information, according to a senior European intelligence official, British authorities opened the investigation into what they said turned out to be a well-coordinated and long-planned plot to bomb multiple transatlantic flights heading toward the United States ? an assault designed to rival the scope and lethality of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings.
One U.S. intelligence source, however, said some of the British suspects arrested had made calls to the United States.
In the two or three days before the arrests, the cell was going operational, and authorities were pressed into action. MI5 and Scotland Yard agents tracked the plotters from the ground, while a knowledgeable American official says U.S. intelligence provided London authorities with intercepts of the group's communications.
So it's possible that the NSA surveillance picked up the terrorists' calls to the United States. It's the position of leading Democrats that NSA should go through the cumbersome FISA procedure before listening in on such calls. It's the position of the New York Times that such surveillance is so questionable that disclosure of it should be published, as it was last December. Does this seem to make much sense now? It's more important to get a warrant from the FISA court than to keep track of terrorists who want to kill thousands of Americans, Britons, and others?
Also, Brian Ross of ABC News reports:
Intelligence officials tell ABC News the plot's trail leads to Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, where money for the plot was wired to London.
Was that money wired through the SWIFT bank operation in Brussels, the existence of which the Times disclosed earlier this year-even though there's nothing legally problematical about it at all? Evidently the Times thinks it's more important to warn terrorists of how their money transfers can be tracked than to enable our government to protect thousands of people from being killed.
Joe Lieberman gets it. Here's an account of some of his post-primary defeat statements in a Times blog:
"If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out [of Iraq] by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England," Mr. Lieberman, the three-term incumbent, said at a campaign event at lunchtime in Waterbury, Conn. "It will strengthen them and they will strike again. . . .
"I'm worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don't appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us--more evil, or as evil, as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet Communists we fought during the long Cold War," Mr. Lieberman said. . . .
"We cannot deceive ourselves that we live in safety today and the war is over, and it's why we have to stay strong and vigilant," he added.
But the snarky New York Times bloggers Patrick Healy and Jennifer Median don't get it at all:
In an extraordinary injection of politics into a national security issue, Mr. Lieberman--the loser to Mr. Lamont in Tuesday's Democratic primary--said at a lunchtime campaign event that Mr. Lamont's goals for ending the Iraq war would be a "victory" for extremists like those arrested today for allegedly plotting to blow up airliners.
Extraordinary? Lieberman has just gone through a campaign where his opponent emphasized his determination to force a U.S. pullout from Iraq. That's an "injection of politics into a national security issue" if there ever was one. If candidates disagree on national security issues, it's not illegitimate or even extraordinary for them to inject them in their campaign. What to do in Vietnam was a major issue in campaigns from 1968 to 1974. What to do about the Soviet Union was a major issue in campaigns from 1980 to 1988. What to do about Islamofascist terrorism was a major issue in campaigns in 2002 and 2004 and is again this year.
A note on Ireland
On another subject, here's a piece by John Bew for the British think tank Social Affairs Unit. It's on the recent award-winning film on the Irish troubles of the early 20th century. John is a recent Cambridge graduate and the son of Paul Bew, the distinguished historian at Queen's University, Belfast, and the best single source I know on the conflicts in Northern Ireland. Paul is of both Catholic and Protestant descent, was once a supporter of the Republican (i.e., unity with the Republic of Ireland) cause, and was more recently an adviser to the Unionist (i.e., unity with Great Britain in the United Kingdom) politician David Trimble. For the definitive history of Northern Ireland in recent times, see Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism, by Dean Godson, who introduced me to Paul. Paul is in friendly or at least respectful contact with just about all the leading players in Northern Ireland, and he and John were kind enough to show me around Belfast the night before and during the day of the Orange Order march on July 12, 2003, commemorating the victory of King William III at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. I am very much looking forward to Paul's forthcoming history of Ireland and am looking forward as well to everything that will be written by John, with whom I had dinner recently in Washington. My regret is that John is only 26, so I will not be around to read all his work. But read the article I linked to, which shows a deep knowledge and thoughtful understanding of Irish history.
Footnote on the Connecticut Democratic primary. The city of Waterbury voted for Joe Lieberman by a 60 to40 percent margin. Here's the response of Ned Lamont's campaign manager, as reported by the Waterbury Republican-American:
"Waterbury are where the forces of slime meet the forces of evil," Lamont campaign manager Tom Swan told Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent on Tuesday after the city voted overwhelmingly for Sen. Joseph Lieberman in the Democratic primary.
After the current mayor of Waterbury, understandably, responded in high dudgeon, Swan explained his comment thusly:
Swan said Thursday that his comment was made late at night, in the context of a broader discussion of state politics in which former Mayor Philip A. Giordano was the "slime" and former Gov. John G. Rowland was the "evil."
But the shrewdest response came from a Waterbury alderman.
Alderman Marty Misset said he was shocked to hear that a high-ranking official in a campaign would make that statement three months before the election.
"That's kind of a strange thing to say when you want Waterbury to support you in the general election," Misset said. "I think he owes everybody in Waterbury an apology."
Waterbury is ordinarily a Democratic bastion, a largely white and working-class community, without which Democrats can hardly hope to win a Connecticut general election. Like most such communities, it voted for Lieberman over Greenwich resident and investment banking heir Ned Lamont. I have long noted that there's an element of snobbery in upper-class left-wing politics, a snobbery that expresses itself in contempt for the working-class communities that for many years were the core constituency of the Democratic Party but do not usually share the dovish views and cultural liberalism of upper-class left wingers; here's a column on the subject from more than 40 years ago.
And for anyone with knowledge of Democratic Party history, Waterbury should ring a bell. Here's a passage about Waterbury from Theodore H. White's The Making of the President 1960 ("43 used & new available from $0.23": For gosh sake, get a copy if you don't have one already), when Kennedy arrived in Waterbury in the early hours of Sunday, November 6, two days before the election:
He arrived at the Roger Smith Hotel in Waterbury, Connecticut, at three o'clock in the morning, and 30,000 people [in a city of about 100,000] waited on the old New England green before the hotel to yell for him. He was tired; it was three o'clock in the morning; but they wanted him. So he climbed out on the balcony of the hotel, with the spotlights illuminating him from below, and from high on the balcony he spoke over the crowded green.
White goes on to quote his speech, in which Kennedy quoted Thomas Paine and Franklin Roosevelt. Then White goes on:
He told them it was now well after three o'clock in the morning and that they must go to bed. He said he had promised their Mayor he would send them all home before three o'clock, and the crowd groaned, "No, Jack, no, Jack." He let the Governor of Connecticut speak for a few minutes, but they demanded he come back, and again, silhouetted by the stark white lights on the balcony high above the throng, he returned and said:
"I will close by telling you of a letter which Lincoln wrote in a campaign very much like this, one hundred years ago, when the issues were the same. [The campaigns and the issues weren't at all the same, but give the guy a break for some poetic license at three o'clock in the morning.] He wrote to a friend, 'I know there is a God, and I know he hates injustice. I see the storm coming and I know His hand is in it. But if He has a place and a part for me, I believe that I am ready.' Now, a hundred years later, when the issue is still freedom or slavery, we know there is a God, and we know He hates injustice. We see the storm coming, and we know His hand is in it. But if He has a place and a part for me, I believe that we are ready. Thank you."
They cheered; they lingered on the green, calling him back until almost four in the morning, but he had to rest, for there were only forty-eight more hours on the road to election day and the Presidency, and he must have his three hours' sleep.
I'm sure Joe Lieberman thinks of Waterbury, he thinks of that late-night speech and remembers the enthusiasm of the crowd-mostly Catholic, mostly working class or not long out of it-and what the election of the first Catholic president meant to them. You can even imagine Lieberman giving a similarly graceful and religion-infused speech. You can't imagine an upper-class left-wing politician like Ned Lamont doing so. For his campaign manager, Waterbury is just slime and evil.