The ultimate measure of the success of the war against Islamofascism is the extent to which the enemy is able to perpetrate further acts of terror. Hence the importance of “homeland security,” which has, unfortunately, the potential to dwarf all other pork barrel spending in American history without adding perceptibly to our security.
George Will profiles two individuals charged with worrying about terrorism: Richard Clarke, who was America’s chief counterterrorism official from 1995 until his departure from the government in February, and Chris Cox, the California Congressman who chairs the new Homeland Security Committee. Cox is, fortunately, a very smart and very serious man.
Cox believes that intelligence is the cheapest and most effective way to fight terrorism; Clarke thinks that al Qaeda can be broken with the aid of sleeper agents placed by friendly governments–say, Jordan or Morocco. Clarke worries, however, about the same things we do: “Clarke, invited to speculate about terrorists’ ideas for targeting U.S. homeland security, says that if al Qaeda has a dozen terrorists to strike the U.S. economy, instead of putting teams of four on airplanes, it might do more damage just by placing one bomb each at a dozen shopping malls. Or a bomb in Las Vegas. ‘No tourism, no city,’ says Clarke.”
We have a long way to go to create anything approximating an effective defense against terrorism, and the most critical link in that defense–protection of our borders–is not even on the table. Nevertheless, it is a good thing that serious men like Chris Cox are beginning to take charge.
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