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Fourteen years ago today, 19 Egyptians and Saudis on expired student visas hijacked airplanes and turned them into weapons. Our government’s response has been to ensure that planes are never again turned into weapons. So we shuffle through long security lines, remove our belts and shoes and hats and coats, and then choose between being photographed nude or getting felt up by government bureaucrats. We can’t bring a bottle of water or shampoo or a pocketknife with us. Our luggage is never truly locked, and government bureaucrats routinely steal from it.
Meanwhile, 14 years later, we still have no idea how many Egyptians and Saudis might be here on expired student visas.
One might argue that in the past 14 years, we have not fallen prey to another mass attack by foreign Muslim terrorists. But that would be incorrect. The Tsarnaev family, for example, managed to wreak carnage. Note that they were granted asylum here, but were soon thereafter routinely returning to a country they claimed was unsafe for them.
As with the security shuffle at the airport, intrusive measures are applied to us all: The government monitors who we call and when, monitors the contents of our electronic communications, and monitors our financial transactions. All this intrusion is nominally to help the bureaucracies keep us safe.
But when it really mattered — when foreigners with ill intent came to our shores — those bureaucracies again dropped the ball.
As Michael Isikoff, the national investigative correspondent of NBC News, notes, “In the fall of 2011, a key Boston police counterterror intelligence unit — funded with millions of dollars in U.S. homeland security grants — was closely monitoring anti-Wall Street demonstrations, including tracking the Facebook pages and websites of the protesters and writing reports on the potential impact on ‘commercial and financial sector assets” in downtown areas, according to internal police documents.’ Yet on May 9, 2013, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis declared before a House committee that this department “was never provided any of the intelligence from the FBI and CIA that Tsarnaev, a resident of Cambridge, had been twice flagged by the Russians as an Islamic radical with ties to ‘underground’ groups in that country.'”
Likewise, The Boston Globe reported:
The House Committee on Homeland Security report identifies a lack of coordination between agencies and multiple failures to identify warning signs about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Some examples:
Early 2011 FBI receives letter from Russian intelligence officials expressing concern that Tsarnaev had become radicalized.
Early 2011 FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Boston initiates assessment of Tsarnaev.
March 22, 2011 FBI case agent enters Tsarnaev on a government TECS database to alert officials to scrutinize any international travel.
June 24, 2011 FBI closes assessment case on Tsarnaev, finding no links to terrorism.
Our government has not proved completely unwilling to scrutinize travelers, mind you. Investigative filmmaker James O’Keefe, dressed as Osama bin Laden, repeatedly exposed the vulnerability of our southern border to terrorist infiltration. In response, our government determined that James O’Keefe needed to be stopped:
But bureaucratic self-preservation is not the worst we face. For the past seven years, our government’s response to terrorist threats and border security has been characterized by a complete lack of accountability on the one hand and baldfaced lying to the American public on the other.
Exhibit A is the other September 11 attack: 9/11/2012, in Benghazi, Libya. There were massive government failures beforehand (ignored security warnings); there were massive government failures during the attack (where were POTUS and the Secretary of State?); and there was orchestrated government deception afterward. No one has been held to account.
An investigation into this second 9/11 attack revealed that the Secretary of State had been compromising national security for years by communicating through insecure channels. Those channels were set up in a deliberate effort to evade accountability. Government officials in high places clearly knew about the potential breach and said nothing. The unaccountable bureaucracy has closed ranks behind her and slow-walked the investigation. The investigation has been slowed too by lies, lies, and more lies.
One would expect to find her languishing under house arrest and sporting an ankle bracelet. But astonishingly, that former Secretary of State is the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer for the next presidential election.
This lack of accountability will have consequences. Someday, our country and at least one of its two political parties will get serious about immigration and border security. Let us pray that it happens before the next massive failure, not after.