Mr. Luger regrets

The December 7 issue of the Weekly Standard carries my article “The threat from ‘Minnesota men.'” It’s now posted on the Standard’s revamped site. I noted it on Thanksgiving in the post “Desperately seeking ISIS.” Please check out the article if you have any interest in the issues raised by the flow of refugees who raise special issues for law enforcement.

Given the local issues raised by Minnesota’s swelling Somali community, the Department of Justice has designated Minnesota as the home of a pilot program to “Counter Violent Extremism.” The pilot program is called “Building Community Resilience.” We are sunk so far in euphemism and avoidance, what we really need is straight talk.

The pilot program has been implemented under the nominal direction of United States Attorney Andrew Luger. When Luger’s office brought charges against six “Minnesota men” for seeking to join ISIS this past April, he commented, “This problem is not a Somali problem. It’s not an immigrant problem,” Luger added. “It’s a Minnesota problem.” As I say, what we need is a program instructing us in the basics of straight talk.

When I started work on the column that turned into the Weekly Standard article, I asked Luger’s press spokesman for an interview. I asked the spokesman for an interview three times by email with an intervening exchange of calls along the line. Before I wrote the article, I took one last stab with Luger’s representative: “This is my third and final request for an interview with the US Attorney regarding law enforcement issues related to Minnesota’s Somali community. I will take no as your final answer unless I hear from you today.”

He responded: “I believe that, when we spoke by phone I asked you review the materials we have posted online and get back to me with specific questions. This is the first time I am hearing back from you. Have you any specific questions about the Building Community Resilience program?”

Well, yeah, that’s why I was asking to talk to Luger. I wrote back asking: “Am I required to submit my questions to you? Is that your protocol? I would prefer not to. I’m looking for a brief interview with Mr. Luger to ask my questions.”

No more Mr. Nice Guy. Luger’s man let me have it: “You hadn’t done even basic research on our Building Community Resilience efforts when we spoke. I am not in the practice of granting interviews with the US Attorney under those circumstances. He has spoken at length to members of the media about our efforts. If there is a new angle you are pursuing, then let’s talk about that. Otherwise, I will decline on Mr. Luger’s behalf.”

This was my last word: “I have done the reading you suggested. I have reviewed the media. I have done additional research and am doing more. I’m not running my questions by you. I will take this as declining my request.” I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that Luger didn’t really want to talk with me about “Building Community Resilience.”