It has been extensively reported that one of the reasons the terrorists were not preemptively cut off before the the carnage they wreaked last Friday in Paris is that they were able to encrypt their communications so they could not be intercepted and followed.
Another report widely circulated was that one of the terrorists who blew himself up in the Paris butchery had just entered Europe through Greece as a Syrian “refugee” on September 15. Didn’t take very long for this “refugee” to morph into a terrorist.
Do we know for certain that this September 15 refugee was in fact one of the Paris terrorists just because the refugee’s passport was found near the body parts of one of the terrorists? Not for certain we don’t, but the odds are pretty good. As Henry David Thoreau put it when he saw the dead trout in the can of milk, the odds were pretty good that the dairy farmer was dipping his milk can into the river.
The White House recently announced that it would accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. before yearend on humanitarian principles. Congress is debating legislation to put a stop to such admissions until the admission process can be more carefully vetted. Predictably, President Obama has said that he will veto any such legislation. [Since preparing this blog, the House enacted such legislation, by the 2/3rds vote necessary to overcome a Presidential veto, although the fate of such legislation in the Senate is yet to be determined. A slew of Democrats more sensitive to their constituency than a lame duck President abandoned their President on yesterday’s House vote.]
One of the reason offered for not stopping the program is because it has already started. I guess it must be true then that two wrongs do make a right. Or, more precisely, in this case, that a couple hundred possible wrongs would somehow make about 10,000 rights.
Do you trust the bureaucratic infrastructure of the U.S. government to identify every actual or potential terrorist among these 10,000 refugees? Do you feel absolutely secure that not one terrorist among the 10,000 refugees will slip through the U.S. screening process? Do you not recall that all 19 terrorists involved in the 9/11 catastrophe were in the U.S. on government issued visas–even though they were also on government “watch lists”? Do you believe that not one of the proposed 10,000 refugees will be converted to terrorism like the “refugee” who entered into Greece in September only to become a terrorist killing machine barely two months later? Do you believe the refugee admissions process is robust and reliable enough to detect a supposedly innocent and victimized refugee’s potential to turn into a hardened terrorist? Will you attend a Sunday NFL football game in the weeks ahead as comfortably as you did before Paris? Or catch a train at Grand Central Station or a plane at LAX? Should we have to remain hidden away in our homes to feel safe?
If you have that degree of confidence in our federal bureaucracy to unfailingly process 10,000 applicants in the next six weeks, then I have some beachfront property in Nebraska that I would like to sell you.
Our federal government couldn’t secure our top secret documents from the likes of Edward Snowden. (This is not a matter of whether Snowden was right or wrong, but whether our government could prevent Snowden’s actions. It couldn’t.) Nor could they manage to capture him as he trekked across the world looking for a home that would prevent his being brought to trial in the U.S. Nor could they prevent our government computers from being hacked by who knows exactly who. Nor have they managed to keep up with the apparent encryption capabilities of a coven of terrorists.
So, how could they possibly protect our citizenry from one possible killer slipping through a huddle of 10,000? The answer is they can’t, no matter how keenly they contend otherwise. The White House says not to worry, this will be a robust, two year vetting process. Really? And where will all these 10,000 refugees be kicking back during this two year period? (And on whose nickel?) To me, this kind of feels like a “morning after pill” that takes two years to kick in, just about the time the progeny is learning to walk! I know blogs need to be short, but it bears repeating: Do you not recall that all 19 terrorists involved in the 9/11 catastrophe were in the U.S. on government issued visas–even though they were also on government “watch lists”? And, yes, I know the government will point out that our homeland security systems are much more sophisticated today. But . . . so are the terrorist systems, for example the encryption techniques employed in the Paris bloodshed last week to avoid detection.
Of course, Americans have a tradition of kindness and generosity, and we should not take encroachment on that lightly. Nor, however, should we take lightly any compromise of our tradition of protecting our shores, and our people. In our zeal to come to the rescue of some 10,000 Syrians, we increase the chances of failing to adequately protect as many or more Americans.
I don’t see the rush to voluntarily grant free passage to so much as one more Syrian refugee on his or her best behavior. It’ll keep until our processing system has been much more carefully vetted than has been demonstrated so far. We need some oversight of those who would oversee. And, for my money, I’d rather see our resources and tax dollars spent on figuring out how to break the encryption skills of those who would do us harm.
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