Saturday, October 28, 2006

Just the facts, ma'am

I wish people would stop saying the Democrats don’t understand the nature of the threat we’re facing today. When exactly did you serve on the National Security Council again? What special information have you been privy to that puts you in a position to state with authority that the Democratic national security strategy* is any worse than the Republican one? I know what you’re thinking. “Well, okay,” you think, “then what puts YOU, Mr. Law Revue, in a position to say with authority that the Democrats DO understand the nature of the threat we’re facing today?” Nothing. Of course, I’m not the one declarating (that’s a new word I just made up) that the opposing side has such a candy-ass policy concerning terrorism. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

* What Democratic national security strategy, right? To which I say, what Republican national security strategy?

I also wish people would stop saying the Bush administration’s policy must be effective because we haven’t had a terrorist attack in the five years since 9/11. It reminds me of the Simpson’s episode where Homer starts a “Bear Patrol” and states it clearly must be working because Springfield hasn’t been attacked by any bears. “But that’s ridiculous,” quips Lisa. “That’s like saying this rock is keeping away tigers.” And that’s like this. To assume that the Patriot Act has really made America safe, simply because we haven’t had another terrorist attack yet, rests on some questionable logic.

The difference here, of course, is that it’s unlikely Springfield would ever be attacked by tigers, while it’s more likely the USA could be victim to another terrorist attack. As Bill O’Reilly said on the Daily Show a couple years back, it’s doubtful the terrorists just gave up. But what do we know? While America hasn’t suffered another attack, it does appear that al Qaeda has been rather busy stirring up trouble on the European continent, and I have to believe that they’re an organization of ultimately limited resources who can only stage so many attacks per year against the Western infidels. Meanwhile, it appears hungry shoeless Mexicans can sneak across our southern border in droves, and the entire coastline of Oregon can’t find a patrolman to save its life. So it seems like if al Qaeda really wanted to sneak in, it wouldn’t be too hard.

And we’ve seen no evidence of the U.S. government preventing a terrorist attack. Oh sure, there was that deal a year or so ago—the eight guys in Florida who were fostering a pipedream** (no pun intended) of blowing up the Sears Tower. I don’t recall anyone taking them particularly seriously. True, we might not be told if the CIA or FBI had been successful in preventing a serious attack, since that would risk compromising our intelligence sources. But here’s the point. Do I think it’s a reasonable hypothesis that al Qaeda has tried to attack us again since 9/11, and the lack of such an attack implicates the Bush administration has been effective in national security? Yes. But it’s just that. A hypothesis. There are no facts to support it; indeed, there are some facts (ie, weak border security) which indicate an opposite conclusion.

** Like a pipebomb, get it? I guess that’s not even a pun.

It’s like the debates I used to have in college about sexual assault (for which I was often accused of being a “rapist” – because people can’t help but rise to the call of rational debate on this issue). Certain segments would assert the high prevalency of sexual assault on campus. “But there are only like 2 assault reported per year,” I would point out. “But,” they would challenge, “victims rarely report sexual assault, so the actual number’s probably much higher.” And that’s all really very wonderful (or not). But until you have FACTS to support your claim, maybe tone your hypotheses, however reasonable, down a touch, m’kay? Being able to refer to, you know, data would make your stance so much more interesting.

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