Friday, August 11, 2006

Deja vu

The governments of the US, Great Britain and Pakistan deserve our grateful thanks for foiling the massive scale airplane bombing plot. In particular, credit goes to Scotland Yard, MI-5, a heroic British Muslim whistleblower, Pakistani intelligence, and our own NSA and Treasury Departments. WSJ notes that "The plot was foiled because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications." Also vital were the NSA terrorist eavesdropping program and Treasury's SWIFT terrorist finance tracking program.

Wait...those last two sound vaguely familiar, where have I (and thus future terrorists) heard about them before? Do not for a minute forget that this kind of coordinated intelligence and law enforcement effort is exactly what the ACLU and the New York Times are trying to eliminate. They use the civil liberties canard, as if the ability to plan and execute mass murder transparently and anonymously is part of the Bill of Rights and thus are worth protecting at the expense of large numbers of American lives.

Fortunately, the early returns in court are promising. The government has chosen to prosecute individuals who violate espionage laws, and as it moves up the ladder courts are holding that they have the right to do so. A new decision also holds that institutions such as the Times have no more right to violate espionage laws than do individuals. There is a long road of "lawyers gone wild" yet to come, but the possibility that those who choose to flout the law in the service of partisan political posturing will be held to account for their actions seems to be closer to becoming a reality. And we will all be safer, with no loss of any liberty for the non-terrorists among us, if that comes to pass.

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