The Corner

National Insecurity

We just had former US Coast Guard

Commander Stephen Flynn stop by the editorial board here at the Dallas

Morning News. Fascinating guy. He says that neither Bush nor Kerry is doing

remotely enough to take care of the domestic security situation, nor is

Congress. He said most American elites are content to sit back and to hope

it doesn’t happen again, because taking the kinds of measures that would

both reduce the chances of it happening again and make America more

resilient in the event that it does, strike them as too difficult or costly.

And that is a terrible miscalculation, he warned, one that stands to do

serious damage to American government and civil society in the event of

another 9/11, or worse.

I asked Cmdr. Flynn, who’s now with the Council on Foreign Relations, how

one makes the case for serious domestic security reform in the face of quite

a few people who say, as soon as this or that measure is proposed, that it’s

an intolerable restriction of civil liberties, and if we do X., the

terrorists will have won. He responded that he was talking to the head

of the ACLU, and asked him if he thought something like 9/11 was going to

happen again. Yes, the man said. Then, said Flynn, he asked the ACLU chief

what the civil liberties record of this country has been in the past when

we’ve been frightened by trauma. Not good, he quoted the ACLU head as

saying.

“I told him that given our history, if he waits until the next 9/11 happens,

he’s not going to have a voice at the table to talk about civil liberties,”

Flynn told us. “Shooting down any discussion of pragmatic steps we should be

taking to protect ourselves, and the civil liberties tradeoffs that would

involve, by saying ‘the terrorists will have won’ is just putting your head

in the sand. The reality is there are people in our midst who want to kill

us, and kill us in largenumbers. We have to face that now, because if we

wait till the next time, we’re not going to handle it well. We have a narrow

window of opportunity, and it’s closing.”

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