Last night, on the eve of the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11, President Barack Obama addressed the nation. The purpose of the speech was to inform the American people of why the president believes the jihadist organization that calls itself the Islamic State – also referred to as ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) – is a threat to the national security of the United States.
After all, if the Islamic State (IS) is truly a threat to the national security of the U.S., it then follows that the U.S. should do “whatever it takes” (quoting many of our national “leaders”) to eliminate the threat.
And while it is true that recent polls show that Americans believe IS is a threat to our national security, it is also true that Americans didn’t view IS as a threat until the release of videotapes showing the beheading of two American journalists – James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
In other words, the U.S. is headed back to war inside Iraq – and will also initiate military operations inside Syria – in large part due to the murder of two journalists who were deep inside civil war-torn Syria.
As someone who has covered all of the post-9/11 military engagements of the U.S. as the host of several radio talk shows – including one that covered the outset of the Iraq War seven nights a week – I can honestly say that I fear our nation is being drawn deeper into a quagmire that will enrich the military-industrial-congressional complex while not increasing the safety of Americans to any significant degree.
I can also state, based on having been involved in two Islamic terrorism criminal cases that predated-9/11 – including one back in the 1980s – that the term terrorism can be misleading in the sense that the terrorism we face today is not the same as on 9/11, or in the 1990s, or the 1980s. In other words, the nature of the threat to our security as individuals and as a nation is constantly evolving.
Yesterday, in “Al-Qaeda morphs into a new movement since 9/11,” USA Today published a fairly good piece on the changing threat.
After pointing out as part of a graphic that, “The terror group responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has changed dramatically since then. Instead of a central organization with a strong leader based in Afghanistan, it is mostly a series of offshoots fighting for control of countries in the Middle East and Africa,” the piece begins:
“The al-Qaeda that attacked the USA on 9/11 is not the same al-Qaeda the United States fights today. Once based in Afghanistan with a strong leader who ordered attacks on Western capitals, it has become a diffuse movement with offshoots that threaten nations across the Muslim world.”
The piece then provides five examples of those offshoots.
1) “Egypt is fighting al-Qaeda and Islamist insurgents in its Sinai Peninsula.”
2) “The United Arab Emirates and Egypt sent fighter jets to Libya to bomb Islamist militias seeking to overthrow the Tripoli government, which operates in exile.”
3) “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which was fighting in Yemen, has spread throughout the Arab Peninsula into Jordan and linked with al-Qaeda elements spreading through Syria and Iraq. An al-Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State, which broke with its parent organization, has emerged as the United States’ top terrorist concern in the Middle East.”
4) “Somalia’s al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabab, has spread into Uganda and Kenya.”
5) “Boko Haram, an affiliate in Nigeria, has spread from one city, Kano, through much of northeastern Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger.”
Then, and this is the issue when it comes to our security as Americans, the article points out:
“Analysts say the multiple insurgencies pose a greater danger to U.S. allies in the region and nearby Europe, but they disagree on the threat they pose to the U.S. homeland.” (emphasis added)
And that’s the issue – the important question – isn’t it?
Do Islamic terror organizations pose a significant threat to our safety and security here in the United States?
On a scale of 1 to 10, I suspect we’d all answer that question differently.
But, let’s modify the question and throw in an issue that many Americans are rightly concerned about – the increasing encroachment of the U.S. government – based on the fear of terrorism – into the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of U.S. citizens.
If we do that, the real question becomes:
Do Islamic terror organizations pose such a significant threat to our safety and security here in the United States that we should surrender our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms?
I don’t know about you, but for me the answer is simple.
I don’t believe Islamic terror organizations pose such a significant threat to our safety and security here in the United States that I am willing to surrender my constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.
And I say that having lost a friend on 9/11 and having seen first-hand the destruction at the Pentagon.
My point is that I hope on this thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 we’ll all take a moment to think about what we may be giving up every time we encourage the government to do “whatever it takes” to provide us with security against global terrorism. Because every time we encourage the government to open a “new front” in the “War on Terror,” the government uses that as an excuse to take away more of our liberty.
As Benjamin Franklin stated on November 11, 1755 in his famous (although often misquoted) Reply to the Governor of Pennsylvania, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Please share your thoughts when it comes to how we balance security with liberty as individuals and as a nation. Do Islamic terror organizations pose such a significant threat to our safety and security here in the United States that we should surrender our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms?
You can email me at [email protected]
Be safe, secure and free,
Rob Douglas – Former Washington DC Private Detective, Information Security Consultant and Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist
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