I Wish This Wouldn't Keep Happening. It Gets So Old.
But what I don't think is a good idea is the constant political grandstanding that the people who employ the FBI seem to think appropriate to their other agendas:
The Los Angeles Times reports that the Federal Bureau of Invesigation apparently gave the media a different, far more damaging version of an affidavit against a Lodi, California father and son charged with lying to federal officials than the one that was finally given to a court in Sacramento Thursday.
The affidavit filed Thursday did not contain any of the sensation material from earlier in the week which said the son's "potential terrorist targets included hospitals and groceries, and contained names of key individuals and statements about the international origins of 'hundreds' of participants in alleged Al Qaeda terrorist training camps in Pakistan." [emphasis mine--ed.]
Defense attorney Johnny Griffin III, who represents the father, Umer Hayat, accused the government of "releasing information it knew it could not authenticate." The FBI said the different versions were the result of "unfortunate oversight due to miscommunication."
We've seen this all before. The last time was the politically motivated Department of Homeland Security terror scare of August 1, 2004, in metro New York City and in Washington, during the middle of the Presidential election campaign.
Our major partner in the particular investigation in question, British Home Secretary David Blunkett, expressed Britain's oblique rebuke of the Bush Administration whose fevered "terror alert" forced the arrests in Britain and Pakistan to be made too soon, before all the useful intelligence had been gathered:
There is also a difference between alerting the public to a specific threat and alarming people unnecessarily by passing on information indiscriminately. I think we have got the balance right. I am being kept fully informed of police operations. As these are ongoing I cannot comment further on them at this stage. What matters is that the relevant authorities are vigorously pursuing their investigations in order to protect the public.
Would that the politicians who currently manage our government thought this was all that mattered when terrorists are arrested.
George W. Bush made a major speech yesterday in my town. It was at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Graduation Ceremony and, as usual, anybody but a previously vetted shill was kept out of the enthusiastic audience.
What was he speaking about? Making the Patriot Act permanent and extending the powers it grants.
Can you guess why any reasonable observer would not buy the FBI's supposed "oversight and misscomunication" as the real explanation of why the scare rhetoric about the Lodi suspects was trumpeted so loudly. Good, I'm glad your head is screwed on straight, too.
Now I disagree with the President. I don't think the Patriot Act should be made permanent and the powers it gives the police should be extended. The reasons I think this are best articulated here.
But I also think that this legislation is important enough both to our safety and our freedom that it should be deliberated carefully, without haste, and without grandstanding scare tactics on the part of its proponents, whether it is passed or not. And I do not see why a reasonable supporter of Patriot Act II would not think this as well.
I am outraged, insofar as outrage is still possible, since it occurs so frequently, at the constant misuse of terrorist investigations, and distortion of the facts concerning them, to stampede this country into particular political decisions.
You should be outraged, too. Even if you support the passage of Patriot Act II.