Interviews with Daniel Pipes
Are We Safer Than Nine Months Ago?
CNN Saturday Edition
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN ASHCROFT, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: On September the 11th, the American definition of national security changed, and changed forever. A band of men entered our country under false pretenses in order to plan and execute murderous acts of war. END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Attorney General John Ashcroft announcing a new plan this week to fingerprint and photograph U.S. visitors who are deemed to be security risks.
Joining us to talk about the implications of this, as well as other security measures imposed to respond to September 11 are two guests: In Boston, Juliette Kayyem. She heads the Domestic Preparedness Program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and was a member of the National Committee on Terrorism. And in Philadelphia, Daniel Pipes. He is the director of the Middle East Forum and the author of a new book due out this summer entitled "Militant Islam Reaches America."
Mr. Pipes, if I can start with you. Nine months later, are we safe or have we taken the steps needed to protect this country against terrorism?
DANIEL PIPES, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST FORUM: We've taken a few steps, Jonathan, but not really serious ones. So basically, my answer would be no, not much has changed yet.
KARL: Not much has changed. Do you agree with that assessment?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, DOMESTIC PREPAREDNESS PROGRAM, HARVARD UNIVERSITY'S KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: I think Professor Pipes is right in the sense that there's still much further to go in this regard, for a number of reasons. As we saw two days ago, we're not just beginning to recognize we have to totally restructure government to respond to the terrorist threat.
And there's little things that can be done that I think will go a long way. For example, the State Department, to date, still does not have the ability, the consular -- let me be specific here -- the consular offices abroad in other countries, you know, Germany, in Africa, wherever else, still do not have the ability to check intelligence information from the CIA, the FBI or the Coast Guard or Department of Defense to determine whether the person standing before them should actually get a visa to come into this country. That seems to me like a simple fix that would go a long way to ensure that terrorists don't enter this country.
KARL: OK, well, we saw this proposal from the Justice Department. The INS will now fingerprint and photograph visa holders who are from countries that are known to sponsor or support terrorism.
Ms. Kayyem, what do you make of this plan?
KAYYEM: Well, nine months since this war began, I'm very wary of procedures that give the illusion of security which won't work.
First of all, let's be clear here, as the INS admitted the day after John Ashcroft announced this, they are years behind in the present fingerprint assessing that they have. So even if we put this into place tomorrow, we're talking a couple of years ahead.
Secondly, I don't actually know what it would do to stop terrorists. Let's assume I'm Mohammed Atta number two. I come into this country because for some reason I've gotten a visa because the State Department doesn't know that I'm a risk. I come into this country, and so you take my fingerprints and you take my picture. Not quite sure what we do with that. Mohammed Atta, when he was in this country, did nothing wrong. That's the scary part of these terrorists, is that they actually are, in some ways, lawful immigrants until the very moment of their terrorist attacks.
So I think this is completely an illusion of security at the expense, of course, of particularly community -- Arabs and Muslims -- and, I think, at the expense of really looking hard at our immigration policy and, in particular, the INS and what they're doing.
KARL: And Mr. Pipes, shouldn't we call these what it is? I mean, this is specifically fingerprinting people who come from that list of countries that we believe sponsor terrorism or pose a terrorist risk. This is racial profiling, is it not?
PIPES: We should be very clear that the problem that we're dealing with, as Lou Dobbs on CNN pointed out just three days ago, it's not terror, it's militant Islam. And we need to go after those people who are supporters of militant Islam.
Now, they can come from any nationality. They can be either gender. But unfortunately, the fact is, it's a delicate and difficult fact to deal with, but they will all be Muslims.
Now, not all Muslims will be supporters of militant Islam, but all supporters of militant Islam will be Muslims. There is no choice...
KARL: So in this case...
PIPES: ... but to focus in on Muslim populations.
KARL: So, in this case, you're saying maybe not racial profiling, but religious profiling is justified because we think a threat will come from Muslims.
PIPES: Well, I prefer not to use the word "profiling" because it has all sorts of connotations, but the police...
KARL: But that's what it is, right?
PIPES: No, it's not. Look, when there's been a report there's been a burglary and it's a tall, say, dark haired man, the police are not looking for short, light-haired women. You know, there's a certain logic to it.
Well, similarly here, we know who has carried off incident after incident for about 20 years against Americans -- murder after murder, I should say, killing by now nearly 4,000 people. We have to go after the suspected perpetrators, not the whole population.
KAYYEM: You know, in this regard, I will agree with Daniel Pipes. I mean, you can't -- you actually can't deny the fact that the 19 hijackers were all from a particular area of the world and all believed in a perverse version of a religion.
That tells me nothing in terms of how to stop the next attack. And I think what we're learning is, these sort of broad statements to interview particular immigrants from Islam or specific countries, the detention, at one stage I think, close to 2,000 immigrants, the continuing questioning and deportation, have got us nothing.
And I, like Daniel Pipes, want to get these guys. So let's talk about the serious and specific procedures that we can use to go after and to curtail the threat of terrorism.
This particular fingerprinting, it's a distraction, and it comes at a tremendous cost, not simply to the Arab and Muslim communities, but certainly to the INS, which seems to have enough to do and not doing it so well at times.
But there was a reason why the State Department opposed this. This is going to have international implications which I think hurt our overall war on terrorism.
KARL: OK, we'll pick it up there. We do need to take a quick break.
Debating homeland security measures, our guests will take your questions, plus a check of the hour's top stories when we come back.
KARL: An important source of information about the news of the day, the war on terrorism and the investigation on terrorism can be found online at CNN.com or AOL keyword CNN.
It's time to check the hour's top stories. Here's Kyra Phillips in Atlanta with a news alert.
KARL: And we're back to our show. We're talking about homeland security with Juliette Kayyem, who heads the Domestic Preparedness Center at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and Daniel Pipes, the director of the Middle East Forum.
Mr. Pipes, I would like to go to something you wrote not too long ago and ask if you still feel the same way.
You wrote, "The U.S. government won't name militant Islam as the enemy, but hides behind the euphemism of terrorism. The CIA and FBI remain largely unchanged. Airline security is a sham. As the sense of vulnerability and resolve of seven months ago dissipates, North Americans are returning to business as usual."
You wrote that on May 1, before the president made his latest proposal for a national security department. Do you still believe that, or do you believe this was a major development this week coming from the White House?
PIPES: I'm afraid I still do believe it, Jonathan. I don't think that reorganization of government is the key. I think what we have to understand that is, in addition to a military conflict and a counterterrorism conflict, this is also an ideological conflict. It's a conflict of ideas.
What the 19 suicide hijackers and people like them represent is a body of ideas. These are not just simple criminals. They're people who are devoted to militant Islam, and we have to combat militant Islam.
My aphorism on this: Militant Islam is the problem; moderate Islam is the solution. And until the U.S. government begins tackling these issues, I think we're basically adrift.
KARL: But how? I'm unclear. So what would the president do? Come out and give an Oval Office address announcing militant Islam is the enemy? What should he do?
PIPES: Well, once you understand -- look, in World War II we understood that beyond Germany, Italy and Japan, there was fascism. In the Cold War we understood that beyond the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Cuba there was communism. There was a set of ideas that we had to do battle with. Same thing here.
It creates all sorts of changes in the way we approach homeland security. Our diplomacy, our military efforts, our counterterrorist efforts, everything is changed once you take away this simple notion of terrorism - or this abstract notion of terrorism, I should say - and replace it with the much more accurate one of extremist Islam.
KARL: Ms. Kayyem?
KAYYEM: I think Professor Pipes is sort of conflating sort of two separate issues. There is of course the root causes problem, which is why are there populations within the world that hate America and men and women willing to die to harm American citizens? So that's one separate issue.
The other issue, of course, is, how do we prepare Americans and American society for the immediate threat of that violence? You can call it whatever it is, but if you're sitting in the World Trade Center, it doesn't matter if it's called terrorism or militant Islam, it is violence.
And so to the second part, how do you protect Americans, I think what happened this week is a good first step. For those of us on the outside of government, it's still kind of unclear what exactly is going to happen, so I think a lot of us are looking forward to the congressional hearings.
I think there is a problem that it did not address some of the FBI-CIA issues, which were clearly at the root of sort of why we were unable to sort of link the dots as regard September 11. And I think you'll hear a lot more about that.
But I think it was sort of a tremendous first step, but let's see. You know, the next couple of months are going to be very interesting for those of us in this field in terms of not just the bureaucratic fighting but, actually, you know, sort of the mission of this new department.
KARL: OK, and then quickly, the president is saying no budget increase, no new employees, just a reshuffling of agencies and restructuring. Can this be done without new resources -- to both of you, Ms. Kayyem first?
KAYYEM: Well, my concern -- I think it could be simplistically if you move the right numbers around. Anyone who has had to deal with a big budget knows that that's relatively easy. But I don't think that that should be our main concern.
Look, we need a domestic preparedness program that has priorities, and if it costs more, let's talk about that and let's debate that.
My concern is...
KARL: Mr. Pipes?
PIPES: Let me just take issue with the point that militant Islam won't help domestic security. I'll give you the example of airline security. So long as we're looking for terrorists at large, everybody is being searched randomly. But once we have an understanding of who the enemy is, once it's properly accepted by the Department of Transportation, then we can start focusing on the few people who are really a danger. So I think it really does have specific applicability.
KARL: So you start asking people at the airport if they're Muslim?
PIPES: Well, no, you don't ask that. You ask who you are, where you're going from, where you're going, why you're going. And you're looking for potential suspects. You use your brains, you use your experience, you use your intelligence.
KARL: OK, we are out of time. I want to thank you both for joining us...
KAYYEM: Thank you.
KARL: ... on SATURDAY EDITION.
Reader comments (8) on this item
Comment on this item
You can help support Daniel Pipes' work by making a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes