Monday, November 29, 2010

Get a clue, Portland

According to the NYT, residents of Portland are totally mystified why anyone would want to kill them.
“Who would want to bomb here?” said Naoki Hirai, a 29-year-old from Japan who is a graduate student at Portland State University. Betty Behrens, a tourist from Seattle, said, “I was astounded.”
Portland figured it was so non-offensive that it could afford the moral preening, as Byron York writes, of refusing to participate in the FBI's Joint Terrorism Taskforce.
In 2005, leaders in Portland, Oregon, angry at the Bush administration's conduct of the war on terror, voted not to allow city law enforcement officers to participate in a key anti-terror initiative, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. On Friday, that task force helped prevent what could have been a horrific terrorist attack in Portland. Now city officials say they might re-think their participation in the task force -- because Barack Obama is in the White House....

That Mohamud was arrested and no one was hurt is a testament to good intelligence and law enforcement work. Having Mohamud behind bars has undoubtedly saved lives in Portland; had he not encountered the undercover FBI agents, he might have worked with actual terrorists to construct a bomb, or he might have simply gotten a gun and carried out "an operation here, you know, like something like Mumbai," as he told the agents.

What is ironic is that the operation that found and stopped Mohamud is precisely the kind of law enforcement work that Portland's leaders, working with the American Civil Liberties Union, rejected during the Bush years. In April 2005, the Portland city council voted 4 to 1 to withdraw Portland city police officers from participating in the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. Mayor Tom Potter said the FBI refused to give him a top-secret security clearance so he could make sure the officers weren't violating state anti-discrimination laws that bar law enforcement from targeting suspects on the basis of their religious or political beliefs.

Other city leaders agreed. "Here in Portland, we are not willing to give up individual liberties in order to have a perception of safety," said city commissioner Randy Leonard. "It's important for cities to know how their police officers are being used."

Local officials were also angry about the FBI's mistaken arrest of Brandon Mayfield, a Portland lawyer and convert to Islam, for the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, Spain. But well before the Mayfield case, Portland had a history of rejecting Bush administration efforts to fight terrorism. "Portland's decision would not be the first time the city has taken a contrary stand in the war on terrorism," the Los Angeles Times reported in 2005. "In the months after Sept. 11, city leaders refused to cooperate with federal efforts to interview thousands of local Muslims. In 2003, the City Council criticized and called for radical changes in the USA Patriot Act, the much-debated federal anti-terrorism legislation."
Since Portland was so very politically correct, they seem to have figured that there was no danger from terrorism to them, safe on the west coast and protected by their moral superiority. However, that might have been what gave Mohamed Osman Mohamud the sense of security to try to pull off his murder plot.
According to the FBI affidavit, the undercover agents asked whether he worried that law enforcement would stop him. "In Portland?" Mohamud replied. "Not really. They don't see it as a place where anything will happen. People say, you know, why, anybody want to do something in Portland, you know, it's on the west coast, it's in Oregon, and Oregon's, like you know, nobody ever thinks about it."
Michelle Malkin details all the other plots that have been disrupted of jihadists planning to kill Americans. I guess that Portland's leaders were just quick to forget their own terrorist connection with the "Portland Seven," a terrorist cell working with Al Qaeda to plan to fight with the Taliban against America.

While Oregonians ask themselves, "Why us?" the question is "Why not?" Are they implying that there was some more persuasive reason to murder the people on those planes and in the World Trade Center? Were passengers in the British metro or on the Spanish trains or residents of Mumbai more worthwhile victims?

This is what terrorism is - whether Mohamud was a member of an organized group or not. The desire to kill people in order to advance their murderous cause isn't based on some rational calculus of which victims are more deserving of murder. The whole object is to sow terror and kill those for whom they have such contempt. This young man escaped from war-torn Somalia and found a home in Portland, yet he had no qualms about killing babies and children gathering to watch the lighting of the city's Christmas Tree. Being sweet and politically correct was no protection.

Luckily for the residents of Portland, the FBI didn't have the same moral qualms as their own political leaders did about reading this guy's emails.