Another holiday season, another thwarted bombing. But in the case of 21-year-old accused would-be attacker Antonio Martinez, there’s great reason to feel safer, instead of more afraid.
Martinez didn’t fail because he couldn’t get his shoelaces tied together or because his underwear wasn’t blowing up as planned. He was caught because of a brilliant effort by undercover FBI agents to monitor him and catch him in the act--all the while making sure they didn’t blow their case with an entrapment charge. The determination of domestic and foreign terrorists is alarming, but the work U.S. law enforcement and investigatory agencies do to make sure the attackers don’t succeed is far more impressive.
It’s easy to hear about security breaches and get nervous about how close we all came to danger. Sometimes, these concerns are a bit hyped, and often for political purposes. The case of the social-climbing couple the Salahis is one example: Michaele and Tareq Salahi managed, without an official invite, to get into a White House reception, and even met President Obama. It was an embarrassing moment for the White House, but the couple--while being incredibly irritating--hardly presented a security threat. They went through metal detectors along with everyone else. Still, the case was used to taint the reputation of not only the past social secretary, Desiree Rogers, but the Secret Service as well.
The truth is that if most Americans knew of the number and seriousness of the threats the Service thwarts every day, they would not be able to sleep at night. The Service doesn’t brag about what they do--they don’t even talk about what they do. Palace Guard-like in their impassiveness, they simply protect the president and keep the White House secure. If a president wants to do something they’d prefer he didn’t--Bill Clinton once went out for a jog on the streets of Washington--they don’t object. They just deal with it, doing what they have to do to protect the commander-in-chief.
The work of the FBI in the Martinez case is one of those times when we get to see the valuable work the agency does. Simply increasing security sweeps for Americans when they travel is not only exasperating, it’s simply not enough to keep the country safe. Law enforcement has to undertake the much harder mission of infiltrating would-be cells and interrupting attacks before they happen. The FBI deserves high praise and thanks for its work in the Martinez case. Not only was the plan to bomb a military recruiting station avoided, but would-be attackers will now be rightly worried that they can’t trust anyone to help them carry out attacks, making their horrific missions more difficult.