Saturday, July 23, 2005

I'm Sick, But I Have To Blog This One

After the second round of London mass-transit bombings within two weeks, a comforting headline appeared above the fold on the front page of the Washington Post on July 22, 2005: Metro Patrols Grow As Security Tightens.

Much of the article focused on the feasibility of bag searches of the type which the NYC Police are conducting. Apparently, Washington, D.C., is going to wait to see how the random bag-searches work in New York before employing such searches here.

Meanwhile, Metro has issued some guidelines for the public to follow, including the following:

"Federal agents and police officials urged citizens to look for suspicious behavior on the area's Metro and rail systems..."

Metro's official guidelines contain these words, directed to the riders themselves:

"Be observant. Watch what people bring onto trains. Look to make sure they don't leave behind packages or bags....To report such incidents, use the intercoms, call transit police or call 911."

Yet, when, on the very next day, Metro riders reported one such package left behind, response on the part of Metro was delayed:

"Jittery about the bombings in London and told to be vigilant, Metro riders spotted an unattended backpack yesterday on the last car of a Blue Line train and did exactly as officials have been urging. They alerted the train operator.

"But the suspicious bag stayed on Train 401 as it rolled through two more stations Metro Center, a major hub, and McPherson Square, a few blocks from the White House -- before Metro officials took the train out of service and inspected the backpack...."

Blessedly, the abandoned backpack turned out to be a false alarm and contained two baseball bats belonging to a forgetful child. Nevertheless, the incident shows just how vulnerable Metro is--not only because it is a mass-transit system but also because the proper steps were not taken. In fact, when one of the riders contacted a security officer after the train had already proceeded unchecked through two stops, the officer contacted at that point admitted that he had received no previous notification of a suspicious package.

In what may be the ultimate irony, Donnelly had the following experience after the incident was resolved:

"Shaken by yesterday's incident aboard the Blue Line train, Donnelly sent an e-mail complaint to Metro. She received an automated reply, thanking her for her e-mail.

"The reply also reminded her to report anything suspicious on the Metro system."

Even before the incident cited above, Metro riders seemed to have adopted a fatalistic attitude, as found in the first article:

"At Metro Center yesterday afternoon, James Washington, 54, of Brookland changed trains for a trip to Silver Spring. He had heard about the bombings, but the news did not change his plans.

"'There's not much you can do,' Washington said. 'These people have shown that even if you prepare for it, if they want to do something they're going to do it. It doesn't matter if you have all kinds of security or not. You have to keep going.'

"Nearby, Chad Pipan and his wife, Julie, of Modesto, Calif., said that they had just heard the news over lunch and that they hesitated only momentarily before getting on another train to head to Arlington National Cemetery.

"'If they want to bomb something, there's not really something we can do about it,' Chad Pipan said."

Is this an attitude one that our Founding Fathers would endorse? Just accept this way of life? Hunkering down for a crisis to pass is one thing; indefinitely living in a state of siege is another.

We must, somehow, turn around the crisis-management mode in which we've become locked.

Step One is the renewal of the Patriot Act. As Robin Leach said on Fox News on July 22, 2005:"We are living in war conditions." In wartime, civil liberties sometimes have to be temporarily curtailed in the interest of national and personal security.

Step Two is to follow through on security guidelines. It is inexcusable for those who have sworn to enforce security to assume a lackadaisical attitude, even in the face of false alarms. Just because bombings such as London has endured have not occurred here does not mean that they won't. Denying the enemy soft targets requires constant vigilance from citizens and from security officials. Any break in the chain of security will eventually have fatal consequences.

Step Three is to employ criminal profiling. Seditious and treasonous words, including but not limited to what goes on inside mosques and Islamic centers, should result in rapid and effective prosecution. With free speech come responsibility and certain limitations, and in wartime, that responsibility and those limitations assume grave importance. Cutting off the funding of jihadists is a corollary to step three, and relying on Saudi oil-supplies funds to the Wahhabists.

Step Four is to control our borders.* Allowing Wahhabists to immigrate to our nation is unacceptable and threatens personal and national security. To believe that immigrants today do not include those sworn to our destruction is the height of naivete--and downright stupid.

Talking about understanding Islam and about reform within Islam is just so many words, not a proactive step. Furthermore, such reform is not a step we Westerners can take. Islam must reform itself. And those who are not jihadists cannot afford to wait too long for such hypothetical reform to take place. Reform is a process, not a definitive turning point in and of itself.

In the meantime, I won't be riding Metro.

*Thanks to LA Sunsett for reminding me of this very important step! See Comment #12.


At 7/23/2005 5:52 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...

When you are feeling better read Malkins latest posts on profiling.

The lesson of London and the Left should be summed up by 167. His city is attacked and his outrage is at the police for killing a man who refused to follow instructions.

You are well aware of the incedents up here. It is a prudent
measure to obey law enforcement orders. Following instructions could have avoided the mess entirely.

At 7/23/2005 8:19 PM, Blogger Esther said...

GREAT post AOW -- until the last line! How can you say that? Sure we need to do more and those in charge need to do more but if you're not going to use the Metro until they get their act together, you truly are letting the terrorists win. :(

Feel better soon!

At 7/23/2005 8:32 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I almost qualified that last line a bit. The truth is that I don't ride Metro except for the very occasional trip downtown to the Smithsonian or the NGA.

I feel that Metro needs to get its act together in many respects which are well known to us locals, but this latest incident is so much worse than the typical breakdowns, late trains, etc. We taxpayers and Metro-riders (even the occasional ones like me) need to exert pressure so that Metro does its job.

Of course, in this war, there is no absolutely safe place. But I'm disheartened that those to whom we entrust our safety should be so laid-back so quickly. I will be vigilant in doing my duty as an observant civilian, and I want security officials to do their part as well.

BTW, as far as I know (I've missed some local news lately) this story to which I referred in the above blog-article got sweet little attention. Should the news tell the story far and wide? Probably not, but I hope that somebody in authority is tending to this matter. In addition, there was a similar incident in the Metro station nearest to me: An abandoned package was reported in the morning, but the officials didn't arrive until the evening commute. Yikes!

We can't count on such good luck every time, can we?

At 7/24/2005 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good story and one that underlines the fact that not only do we need systems in place, but those in charge of the systems need to insure that they do thier jobs too.

Keep up the great posting and get better ASAP...

At 7/24/2005 8:28 AM, Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I remember the story about the two Muslim doctors who feigned talk to appear to be planning a terrorist attack – I think it was a Denny’s in Florida just a few months after 9/11. Those who overheard called the police. The police did excellent work. They separated the two Muslims and got two different stories. They separated the two who overheard and got the same story.

The Muslims eventually got their story in sync and went on Larry King. I remember a co-working falling for their crap. I set him straight: when you make a bomb threat that’s a serious crime. Too bad the Florida prosecutors didn’t follow through.

People have to be vigilant but we have to back them up when they do. Most people supported the two who called the police. Most, that is, except Larry King.

By the way, to give CNN a little credit. Lou Dobbs, on Friday, took a poll of his viewers and asked if we should rename the War on Terror to the War on Radical Islam. Eighty Percent – yes, 80% - said we should. Lou, of course, has held that position for sometime. That’s refreshing considering some UK news organization can’t use the word terrorist – let alone Islamic terrorist.

At 7/24/2005 9:53 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I wish I'd seen that Lou Dobbs report! "The War on Radical Islam" (WORI--as in, "worry"?) is a start in the right direction and comes closer to identifying the geopolitical aspect about which you and I have been blogging like mad. I'm also impressed with that 80% figure. Can it be that people are "getting it"?

I recall that Denny's episode. Did CAIR come to the bomb-chatterers' defense?

For the record, I have reported two suspicious things which I observed. I have no idea as to any follow-through or even if my suspicions had grounds. When I discussed my possible paranoia with a neighbor who is a retired police officer, he said, "Part of being a good citizen is being vigilant. That should've been going on even before 9/11."

And slightly off topic here, Elizabeth Smart was rescued because of an observant citizen. The D.C. snipers were also apprehended in a like manner. The lesson of what an observant citizen can accomplish applies to many situations.

At 7/24/2005 9:55 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

GM Roper,
Thanks for stopping by. I am feeling marginally better and may try to go to the pool today.

I find myself particularly frustrated with failures in security. We're engaged in a war!

At 7/24/2005 12:01 PM, Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I’m still amazed at how people just don’t have there "antenna" out. I had interviewed one candidate for a job two years ago and was curious about his background – from his faint accent he clearly was born abroad and his name seemed Arabic but could have been Hebrew as sometimes certain Semitic names differ by a vowel. He tells me his name is Greek and he was born in Greece. I point out that my name is Greek and his doesn’t sound Greek at all. He starts to mumble inaudibly.

The story gets worse – and more outrageous. He claims that I won’t be able to contact his references for one of his passed job because they all died in the World Trade Center. Everyone at work was feeling so sad for this guy – he had they hook-line-and-sinker. I did some detective work and it turns out that no one died where he worked (he did work in the WTC). In addition, the FBI was looking for him.

All this PC crap has people afraid to even think suspicious thoughts. But you can’t find the truth before an investigation … you have to start by asking questions and forming a hypothesis. It’s just the scientific method applied to war.

At 7/26/2005 7:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any resource needed to follow a potential enemy within the camp is a resource that is not employed in killing the enemy outside of the lines. This is a law of Nature, not of man. The presence of the enemy within a camp constitutes a second front and no army can win a sustained 2 front war on one piece of ground. This is another law of Nature, not of man. The accouterments and complexities of so-called modern war now encompass the entire planet as a single field of battle. As such, no nation will endure that willingly houses the enemy.
-Judah Macabeus

At 7/26/2005 8:29 AM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Superb post, AOW!! I especially agree with your point about ``reform in Islam``; only Islam can reform itself, and the Islamic world is not a mind to do that at this point. (That may change if they are badly beaten repeatedly in the War on Terror.) We have to take the fight to them.

At 7/26/2005 2:15 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thank you for stopping by.

We have taken in the enemy (See Paul Sperry's book "Infiltration," for just one source of many). So, when you write "[N]o army can win a sustained 2 front war on one piece of ground," are you saying that the situation is hopeless? Or are you saying that different tactics need to be employed to root out the enemy from within?

At 7/26/2005 9:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm not sure I can agree with JM. He suggests that a nation is unable to walk and chew gum at the same time. In our history, we have had to deal with external issues concurrently with internal issues. Not only is the federal government capable of pursuing a WOT at overseas locations and domestically, he overlooks the concept of federalism wherein each state is sovereign, with executive, legislative, judicial, and police powers.

In addition, the US has pursued a "two front war" on several occasions and has come out on top. We may not have won the Vietnam war (even though we won all the battles) we certainly did win the Cold War, which was global, regional, and national in scope.

So in the absence of any clarification from JM on his specific meaning, I must disagree.

At 7/26/2005 11:15 PM, Blogger LA Sunset said...

Step Four: Control our borders.

Good post AOW.

At 7/27/2005 6:14 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

LA Sunsett,
You are correct! I'm going back and will add Step Four. How did I leave that step out? I'm going to chalk that up to being sick with this never-ending summer cold.

At 7/27/2005 8:08 AM, Blogger LA Sunset said...

I always take Michael Savage with a grain of salt, but he said something last evening on his show that makes perfect sense.

He said,

To have a Patriot Act and have no border security is like having an expensive, state-of-the-art home alarm system and still leave your windows and doors open.


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