Posted on 05-01-2010
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Jon Stewart starts  off the year strong with a wonderful skewering of the performance of the intelligence agencies and the predictable chest thumping partisan response from Republicans (clip at end of post).

The Republican response has been particularly distressing: from banging the war drums to enter the Yemeni quagmire, repeating calls to bring back torture and attacking the rule of law by trying to push what will be an open and shut case into military tribunals (somehow the court system worked just fine for the shoe bomber Richard Reid).  All of this is a part of a strategy to play the Democrats are weak on terror card with little attention to whether any of this posturing actually works or makes America safer.  The father of the underpants bomber was calling the United States to turn his kid in.  Would this happen if the United States followed Pat Buchanan’s barbaric call to deny medical aid or the calls to torture him for information he probably does not have?  The right still does not understand just how potent a recruiting tool Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were for Al Qaeda.  And so far nobody has pointed to any useful information the willful law breaking produced that was not being obtained from other legal sources.  It also appears that some of the torture occurred because the prisoners were not giving the answers Dick Cheney and his acolytes wanted to hear.

This blinkered world-view ignores just how much Al Qaeda’s nihilistic philosophy and willingness to shed Muslim blood have cost them support in the Arab world.  Pakistan (while not Arab) is a good example of this.  While Pakistanis remain deeply in denial about the origins of extremism in their country, the vicious attacks on civilians have turned public opinion against these thugs.  An overreaction of the sort counseled by George Bush’s homeland security advisor Frances Fargos Townsend vaguely threatening an invasion of Yemen would be just what Al Qaeda wants.  Have the United States invade yet another Muslim country (in the Arab peninsula no less) that would make it easier for them to claim that the United States is an enemy of Islam.

Then there is the call to engage in racist profiling.  As George Bush’s CIA Director and Homeland Security Secretary note how profiling can be easily sidestepped.  After all the underpants bomber as a Nigerian would not have shown up on typical terrorist profiles.

It is understandable to tighten up security procedures to prevent attacks.  But the ugly reality is that it is impossible to prevent all attacks from a group that probably numbers about a 1,000 people world wide.  If fear of Al Qaeda starts a downward slide to a police state, Al Qaeda will have won.  Using a hammer to swat a fly will leave a gaping hole in the fabric of the idea and values of America.  This long piece from the New York Times is a good read on how the administration struggles to find a balance between the values and the security while avoiding the pointless and probably harmful chest thumping that Dick Cheney would like.

Meanwhile the people calling for draconian police action continue to compare health care reform to tyranny and a Republican Congressional candidate in Minnesota says defeating liberals is a bigger battle than defeating terrorism.  The mind reels.

Enjoy the clip.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
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