9/11 Redux. Like US, France Ignores Attack Warnings, Strips Freedoms, Extends State Power
November 20, 2015
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Zvi Bar'el / Haaretz & Andrew P. Napolitano / Creators.com
Both Iraq and Saudi Arabia reportedly provided France with warnings ahead of the Friday ISIS attacks. The tragedy in Paris last Friday has regrettably been employed as a catalyst for renewed calls by governments in western Europe and even in the United States for more curtailment of personal liberties. Those who accept the trade of liberty for safety have argued in favor of less liberty.
Arab Nations' Intel Tips Often Go Unheeded in West
Jason Ditz / ANtiWar.com
(November 18, 2015) -- As ISIS continues to grow in the Middle East, those nations in the vicinity have been watching close, and gathering large amounts of intelligence on them. Yet when ISIS looks to attack Western nations like France, advance warnings from the Arab nations appear to go unheeded.
Both Iraq and Saudi Arabia reportedly provided France with warnings ahead of the Friday ISIS attacks, and a lot of other Arab nations seem to be awash in intelligence that Western nations treat with automatic suspicion.
To some extent, it's a function of those nations' intelligence communities being in bed with terrorist groups, though it's not as though Western nations are unfamiliar with backing convenient terrorist movements in enemy countries.
Officials also complain that those nations haven't always been a forthcoming with intelligence as the US and others would've hoped in the past, though it seems that's a poor excuse for spurning their intelligence now that it's on offer.
Despite Their Treasure Troves of Information,
West Doesn't Trust Arab Intel Agencies
Zvi Bar'el / Haaretz
TEL AVIV (November 18, 2015) -- Arguably, in recent days there has not been a single country that hasn't declared publicly and emphatically that it sent France advance warnings of impending attacks. The latest to do so were Saudi Arabia and Iraq who publicized these early warnings, with Iraq claiming that it "knew" of the attack on the eve of its occurrence.
Prior to that, Turkey said that it had warned France twice about a terror attack, and Algeria reported its ongoing intelligence cooperation with France and its systematic transfer of information to French intelligence agencies.
It's interesting how they all knew of the intent to attack France or other European targets but not of plans for attacks on their own soil. Turkey didn't know about the two lethal attacks carried out by ISIS in June and October, and Iraq doesn't know when the next car bomb will go off in Baghdad. Saudi Arabia continues to be plagued by attacks and in Egypt a terrorist apparently managed to plant a bomb in a Russian airliner.
This doesn't necessarily mean that information coming from Arab countries is inaccurate, but in the West it's treated as suspect at best, or that it is intended to cause Western nations to act against a regime's political rivals.
The assumption that authoritarian Arab regimes control everything that goes on in their countries and know of every potential suspect has long been ruled out. They don't. Mubarak's Egypt didn't know how to foil attacks on vacation resorts and didn't grasp that a revolution was around the corner, as was the case for Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, who was surprised by the extent of public fury.
Furthermore, intelligence assessments in the West dismissed the capabilities of Saudi and Kuwaiti intelligence agencies in the past, despite the brutal tactics these employed in extracting information and the gigantic sums of money (close to $1 billion in Saudi Arabia) invested in their intelligence services. Jordan has relatively effective spy agencies, but they too failed a decade ago when Al-Qaida attacked hotels in Amman.
At the same time, the innermost recesses of Arab intelligence services contain treasure troves of information about tens of thousands of citizens, some of whom are connected to terrorist or radical Islamist organizations. This data could profit European intelligence organizations especially now, when thousands of refugees are streaming across their borders.
According to a Western diplomatic source, there is currently no system for carrying out security checks for the hundreds of thousands of refugees reaching Germany or Italy.
"First they are taken in and only later, gradually, are their records checked," he says. "The problem is that we don't have sufficient and suitable manpower to investigate every refugee in depth, and there is obviously no cooperation in this from countries such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Lebanon, which could provide pertinent information."
In fact, the only examination one could undertake is of information already held by European intelligence services regarding possible suspects. This is also limited, since only in exceptional cases, with identified wanted persons, will there be a comparison of intelligence held by Germany with that possessed by Britain or France.
Beyond the difficulty in establishing effective links between Western and Arab intelligence agencies -- particularly in the absence of systematic cooperation between Arab agencies -- Western agencies suspect that there are links, some of which have been proven, between Arab regimes and terrorist organizations.
One doesn't have to look as far as Pakistan, where there is tight cooperation between intelligence agencies (which enjoy American support) and the Taliban in order to understand the paradoxical situation.
In cables released by WikiLeaks, Hillary Clinton complained that Qatar is the worst country in terms of intelligence sharing with the United States. Qatar funded in the past and still finances radical groups operating in Syria, probably including the Al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front.
Saudi Arabia, which donated $100 million to the United Nations plan to combat terrorism, is also a financier of radical organizations. Kuwait, a close business associate of Britain, allows charity NGOs that support terrorism to operate on its soil.
Syria has commercial links with ISIS, which has sold it oil and is now selling it wheat and cotton. Turkey was rebuked by the US after being suspected of allowing ISIS and other radical Islamist activists to enter Syria from its territory.
Each of these countries has extensive commercial ties with Western countries, which dictate a clear etiquette: One doesn't pressure a country that purchases your planes or other weapons for billions of dollars.
"The commonality of interests" that divided Arab countries into a "pro-Western" bloc and an "anti-Western" one forged the delusion that both sides see eye to eye on issues of fighting terrorism or defining violent radicalism.
"One shouldn't hold only Arab regimes to account: The US is the one who invented the concept of "moderate organizations" in order to legitimize rebel groups in Syria, radical Shi'ite groups in Iraq and Taliban groups in Afghanistan -- each one of which has its own definition of "moderate."
Paris and Freedom
Andrew P. Napolitano / Creators.com & AntiWar.com
(November 18, 2015) -- The tragedy in Paris last Friday has regrettably been employed as a catalyst for renewed calls by governments in western Europe and even in the United States for more curtailment of personal liberties. Those who accept the trade of liberty for safety have argued in favor of less liberty.
They want government to have more authority to intrude upon the daily lives of more innocent people. Their targets are the freedoms of speech and travel and the right to privacy. Their goal is public safety, but their thinking is flawed.
The clash between liberty and safety is as old as the republic itself. The United States was quite literally conceived in liberty. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson painstakingly listed the ills and evils of the British government's administration of the Colonies.
There were no complaints about the absence of public safety; rather, Jefferson's "long train of abuses" cataloged the British government's interference with the colonists' personal liberties.
What has made the declaration so enduring and unique in world history is its unambiguous embrace of the natural law as its explanation of the origin of our rights. The British king thought he reigned by the will of God -- the so-called divine right of kings.
Jefferson, influenced by the British philosopher and political theorist John Locke, turned that belief on its head. He argued that our liberties are natural, even inalienable, because they stem from our humanity, which is a gift from God. How could the same God have given us natural, inalienable personal freedoms and also have given the king the natural right to interfere with those freedoms?
The declaration's answer is the profound rejection of the moral legitimacy of any government that lacks the consent of the governed, as well as its articulation of the Judeo-Christian ethic of valuing human life and its acceptance of the belief that humans possess inalienable rights "endowed by their Creator."
Notwithstanding the values of the Declaration of Independence, big government and petty tyranny reared their ugly heads almost at the start of the republic. In 1798, the same generation -- in some cases the same human beings -- that wrote in the First Amendment that "Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech" also enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts, which punished speech critical of the government.
Abraham Lincoln locked people up for speaking out against the Civil War. Woodrow Wilson locked people up for singing German beer hall songs during World War I. FDR locked people up just for being Japanese-Americans in World War II. All of this was later condemned by courts or Congresses -- and surely by enlightened public opinion.
It is in times of fear -- whether generated by outside forces or fomented by the government itself -- when we need to be most vigilant about our liberties. When people are afraid, it is human nature to accept the curtailment of liberties, whether it be with speech or travel or privacy, if they become convinced that the curtailment will somehow keep them safe.
But if Jefferson and all the history and tradition of American cultural and legal thought have been correct, these liberties are natural rights, integral to all rational people. I can sacrifice my liberties, but I cannot sacrifice yours. Personal liberty is subject only to due process, not majoritarianism.
Stated differently, we can only morally and legally and constitutionally lose our personal liberties when our personal behavior has been adjudicated as criminal by a jury after a fair trial; we can't lose them by a majority vote of our neighbors or a majority vote of our representatives in government or a presidential executive order.
Moreover, the Paris killings, the Fort Hood massacre and the Boston Marathon killings are all examples of the counterintuitive argument that the loss of liberty does not bring about more safety. It does not. Rather, it gives folks the impression that the government is doing something -- anything -- to keep us safe.
Because that impression is a false sense of security, it is dangerous; people tend to think they are secure when they are not. In fact, the government's reading everyone's emails and listening to everyone's telephone calls is making us less safe because a government intent on monitoring our every move suffers from data overload.
Because government is buried in too much data about too many folks, it loses sight of the moves of the bad guys. Add to this the historical phenomenon that liberty lost is rarely returned -- as a new generation accustomed to surveillance attains majority, surveillance seems the norm -- and you have a dangerous stew of tyranny.
Just look at the Patriot Act, which permits federal agents to bypass the courts and write their own search warrants. It has had three sunsets since 2001, only to be re-enacted just prior to the onset of each -- and re-enacted for a longer period of time each time.
Since the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris in January, the police in France have been able legally to monitor anyone's communications or movements without a warrant and without even any suspicion.
Today they can break down any door and arrest whomever they please, and this past weekend, the French Cabinet declared that authorities can confiscate all firearms in Paris. All that gives law enforcement a false sense of omnipotence over the monsters.
Only good old-fashioned undercover work -- face to face with evil, what the professionals call human intelligence on the ground -- can focus law enforcement on the bad guys. And an armed citizenry strikes terror into the hearts of would-be killers and even stops them before they complete their horrific tasks. But don't try telling that to the French government.
Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the US Constitution. The most recent is Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
Copyright 2015 Andrew P. Napolitano. Distributed by Creators.com.
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