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crackdowns don't heal cracks

Reader comment on item: American Intifada

Submitted by j (United States), Jun 20, 2007 at 09:58

While D. Pipes outlines a "1984" style predictor of what unchecked militant groups can and have achieved, it is not clear that governmental crackdowns are effective as a means of avoiding the misery and chaos caused by such groups. Our government has always been superb at cracking down on citizens, those who have followed the rules enough to be in the governental system.

However, for those who break the rules of immigration and importation by bypassing the rules, our government is not effective. For me this is proven from any crackdown from the War on Drugs to the War on Terror. Our government is great at "catching" the low-level drug dealers and miserable users who fill our jails, yet the millions if not bilions of pounds of drugs that are imported across our borders still remain a tremendous issue. Our government is great at making citizens take their shoes off, yet for the millions of undocumented people, or those here way past the time and perameters of their visas, the government is ineffective.

After the dust has settled from 9/11 we have loads of new powers for the government, many of which have been considered as pushing the envelope in terms of honoring US laws and ideals. however, these new restrictions have primarily imposed themselves on law-abiding citizens rather than potential "terrorists." (I know, all the gung ho advocates of post 9/11 tactics are right about now focusing on the alleged prevention of planned terrorist attacks, but these glitzy examples of the government saying "see it's working" are neither as simple nor as persuasive as the government would portray as it continues to exploit fear to retain authority).

In the real world, it has already been proven that the government itself has behaved like a terrorist group, from the issues surrounding Guantanamo Bay to the recent issues involving FBI abuses of the Patriot Act. Further, the basic issues of monitoring those within our borders such as keeping track of those with visas, firming up our borders, enforcing laws against employers who cheat the system by hiring illegal immigrants and thereby drying up the job temptation for such immigration, or even standing firm in refusal to deal with terrorist organizations such as Hamas even when they are "legitimately" elected by a people have shown that while the government is a great bully regarding citizens, it's not so good at protecting citizens.

I believe Mr. Pipes is correct, we will all carry ID cards, not because the government wasn't tough on its citizens under the guise of protecting them but because the government can only effectively regulate those already in its system, so that while they're scanning my retina, twenty groups of visiting students from a terrorist cell will likely be able to visit the US and catch up with twenty of their old friends whose visas have expired, and plan to do whatever they like.

This does not mean the government should do nothing, it means the government should better monitor visitors and their paperwork, and simultaneously address the international resources of such groups. For instance, the 'terrorists" arrested in Georgia had the plan and the intent, supposedly to become radical Muslims, but as an isolated group, no means of achieving such ends. Also, in the 90's there was lots of worry and talk about militant groups of citizens in the US, fighting taxes and government, armed to the hilt, yet unfunded by international groups, unassisted by international groups and therefore largely an isolated threat against the US.

The issue is an international one, each country using its strength to prevent outside support for groups that infiltrate domestic borders, not taking a person's after shave at the airport while thousands of undocumented people enter the country every day.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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