No sooner had victory in Afghanistan by the forces of Truth, Beauty, and Global Democracy been announced and the still uncaptured and undeceased Osama bin Laden declared by President Bush to be “unimportant” (no doubt the reason the administration put a $25-million reward on his head last fall) than the top-ranking officials of the U.S. government informed the nation that terrorist attacks within the United States were a virtual certainty. On May 19, Vice President Cheney told Meet the Press, “The prospects of a future attack on the United States are almost certain. Not a matter of if, but when.” The very next day, FBI Director Robert Mueller told a gathering of district attorneys in Washington that suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks inside the United States were “inevitable,” that “there will be another terrorist attack,” and “we will not be able to stop it.” And the day after that, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told a Senate committee that terrorists will “inevitably” gain control of “weapons of mass destruction” and will not hesitate to use them against us. For all the administration’s chest-thumping about the glory of driving the mad mullahs of the Taliban from the field of battle, it might seem that a certain degree of skepticism about the scope and meaning of our “victory” is in order.
The officials who pronounced their solemn warnings were probably correct, and, certainly, for a nation that has insanely allowed some 30 million aliens from the most backward portions of the globe to settle here in the course of the last three decades, terrorist attacks are the least that we should expect. In a study released in May, the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington found that no fewer than 48 foreign-born radical Muslims have been implicated in terrorism in this country since 1993 and that they
have manipulated almost every possible means of admission to the United States: Some have indeed come as students, tourists, and business travelers; others, however, have been Lawful Permanent Residents and naturalized U.S. citizens; while yet others have snuck across the border, arrived as stowaways on ships, used false passports, been granted amnesty, or been applicants for asylum.
A week or so later, U.S. News and World Report detailed the profiles of “more than three dozen American jihadists, many of them previously unknown” and many of whom “are U.S. citizens, native born or naturalized,” though “a fair number are African-Americans, who make up nearly one-third of the nation’s Muslims.”
The arrest of native-born American Jose Padilla, now known as “Abdullah al Muhajir,” on charges of plotting with Al Qaeda to deploy a nuclear bomb in the United States, points to the same phenomenon, as does the estimate of terrorism expert Peter J. Brown, who says there may be as many as “1,500 to 2,000 American passport-carrying recruits who have shown up in the ranks of al Qaeda in the past decade.” President Bush was right: Osama bin Laden is not particularly important, and neither is Afghanistan. What’s important, and a threat to the nation, are the alien hordes that the Open Borders lobby has insisted on importing into this country through the immigration policy it has succeeded in dictating against the wishes of most Americans.
Rather belatedly, then, the administration last spring began taking steps to deal with what is now rather fetchingly known as “homeland security”: not only the creation of yet another behemoth government agency at the Cabinet level, larger than any other department save the Pentagon, with a budget of $37 billion, 170,000 employees, and combining 22 existing federal agencies, but also the long-sought “unleashing” of the FBI a week or so before by the abolition of the attorney general’s guidelines for domestic security and terrorism investigations. Given the magnitude of the threat as estimated by administration officials and the internal location of the threat as indicated by the figures provided, the government buildup and crackdown might seem entirely justified. In fact, however, it will do little to deal with the real and existing internal security threat but much to endanger what remains of American political freedom and dissent, especially from the ideological right.
The creation of the so-called Department of Homeland Security ought to speak for itself, and indeed, congressional criticism of the proposed department concentrated on the claim that it didn’t go far enough, that it had no intelligence-gathering powers of its own, and that both the FBI and the CIA should be absorbed within it. Doing so would complete the evolution of what could only be called an “American Gestapo,” an agency that would, in fact, dwarf the secret police of the German National Socialist government and approach being able to swallow the rest of the federal government itself. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that creating such an agency would improve federal counter-terrorist policies or reduce the threat of terrorism, internal or external, in any way.
It is the abolition of the attorney general’s guidelines for FBI investigations, however, that are of more interest than yet another sequel to the never-ending epic of the governmental Frankenstein. Imposed in 1976 by Gerald Ford’s attorney general, Edward Levi, the guidelines were intended to curb the supposed “excesses” of the Bureau of that and earlier eras (when it actually carried out essential functions of national security by spying on communists and other enemies, harassing subversives, and surveilling such known security risks as Martin Luther King, Jr.). Some of the Bureau’s domestic security activities, such as J. Edgar Hoover’s personal animosity toward the Ku Klux Klan and other opponents of the “civil-rights movement,” did indeed go too far, and in one case an FBI undercover agent seems to have instigated the actual murder of a “civil-rights worker”; but Hoover himself annually and publicly reported the general nature of his agency’s activities to Congress, and there was a wide if somewhat vague national consensus about what he and his G-men were supposed to be doing. It was only the political triumph of the left in the wake of Watergate and the post-Vietnam era (and the flaccidity of the Republican right under such weaklings as Gerald Ford) that allowed restrictions on the Bureau (and the CIA) to be imposed at all.
The Levi guidelines effectively made it impossible for the FBI to investigate what was, in that era, the very real terrorism of the far left. The guidelines imposed what is known as a “criminal standard,” under which the Bureau could not open an investigation of a group unless it knew the group was involved in or planning criminal activity. A mere rhetoric of violence, simply calling for violent overthrow of the government, assassination of public officials, or bombing public buildings, wasn’t enough to justify an FBI investigation.
Of course, if the FBI knew that the members of a group actually were planning or involved in crimes, it had no reason to investigate at all; it then had reason to arrest them. Moreover, the guidelines contained a catch-22: You couldn’t investigate a group unless you knew there was criminal conduct. But you couldn’t know there was criminal conduct unless you investigated. Under those guidelines, the FBI really couldn’t do much at all to keep nutty groups that may have had links with terrorists or hostile foreign powers under surveillance. As a result, the FBI dropped its investigation of the Weather Underground Organization in 1979; two years later, when remnants of the Weathermen were committing a series of armored-car robberies and murders, the FBI didn’t have a clue—literally. Only when a police roadblock after a robbery and brutal murder on Long Island in 1981 nabbed several Weathermen (and Weatherwomen, including the long-missing Kathy Boudin) did it become clear that real terrorism—not just ordinary robberies—was involved.
In that era, then, there was good reason to get rid of the guidelines, although any attempt to do so was immediately greeted with denunciations from the left (and not a few from the libertarian “right”) of “fascism” and “McCarthyism.” Today, however, the situation is rather different.
Today the violent, disloyal, and revolutionary left, in league with hostile foreign powers, seems to be either defunct or dying (although there are scads of Weathermen who simply vanished and have never been found, and several million dollars from the 1981 armored-car robberies has never been located), and they don’t pose much of a physical danger. Why blow up the government when you essentially control it? Today, the great enemy, the great target for any renewed campaign of domestic security, is what is called “Hate.”
“Hate,” of course, does not necessarily mean real hatred but what the leftists who have acquired cultural hegemony in recent decades like to call “hate.” Mostly, what they are talking about is merely political dissidence on the right that includes not only real “hate groups” that carry out violence against minorities (very few, if any, to my knowledge; almost all the violent incidents associated with “the right” in the last 20 years or so have been committed by individuals rather than actual groups or organizations) but groups that simply take what these days are considered to be unfashionable or “ultra-conservative” positions: opposition to immigration, support for the Confederate flag, opposition to abortion and homosexuality, support for the Second Amendment and resistance to gun control, etc. While the “mainstream” or “neoconservative” “right” generally avoids these issues or is actually on the other side of some of them, support for them has fallen into the hands of largely grassroots groups that, by definition, lie outside the mainstream created by the dominant left-right political establishment.
One of the major tactics of the political left in recent years has been to destroy this grassroots opposition to some of its most cherished goals by demonizing it as “hate” and “linking” it to groups that actually do advocate or, at least, play with violence. In fact, very little connection exists, and most groups in the grassroots right avoid advocates of violence like anthrax. Nevertheless, there is an entire industry of “hate hunters” like the Southern Poverty Law Center of Morris Dees, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and similar groups that specialize in raising vast sums of money by claiming that “hate groups” are about to unleash violence against the government, Jews, liberals, ethnic groups, abortionists, homosexuals, etc. Their “research” is usually transparently biased if not factually worthless, and their own political orientation is obvious. A few years ago, I heard a lecture by Mark Potok, publications director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, in which he alleged that religious-right leaders Pat Robertson and Gary Bauer had “provided the moral atmosphere” for the murder of homosexual Matthew Shepard in Wyoming—a claim that is as preposterous as it is ideologically driven. As investigator Laird Wilcox (who has researched the so-called “watchdog” groups extensively) has written,
Activists with a hidden radical agenda find antiracist organizations very amenable to manipulation. . . . In rational terms, class struggle Marxism-Leninism is a hard sell. However, when it is reframed as anti-racism and anti-fascism, much of the onus is gone.
Professional hate-hunters such as Mr. Potok and his ilk influence federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies. Their “experts” often testify in trials and provide seminars for law-enforcement and intelligence agencies on the “real threats” to national security, and the cops and bureaucrats whom they brief often don’t know any better. Faced with demands from the public and their superiors to “stop terrorism” and get information on groups and individuals too obscure for most media to cover, they eagerly gobble up the propaganda masked as “research” or “intelligence” that the hate industry feeds them. In 1999, the industry helped to produce a report for the FBI itself warning of massive right-wing violence on the eve of the turn of the millennium. There was, of course, no such violence. The same sources were largely responsible for the similar black-church arson hoax of 1996—there were few such acts of arson that were racially motivated.
There is, of course, a need for the federal government to investigate real domestic-security threats, and the thousands of aliens who represent such a threat should be and probably are at the top of the Bureau’s list these days. But there will come a day when the new masters of the federal leviathan will steer its attention toward other groups that represent no threat to the nation at all and whose only offense is their perfectly legal support for perfectly legal causes that just happen to jeopardize the total power for which the left has long reached and which it now—thanks to mass immigration and the Bush administration—nearly has within its grasp.