June 13 2013
There have been a few scattered comments about the irony of the NSA’s maintaining a vast surveillance network and yet having missed warning signs about the Boston Marathon bombers, the underwear bomber, and the Fort Hood massacre. I’m wondering if these misses happened because of the mindset of the Obama administration: it averts its eyes whenever the matter of Islam surfaces.
I am proud that my country hasn’t discriminated against followers of Islam in the wake of terrorist attacks. But willful blindness is another thing (particularly when our tax collecting agency is so vigilant when it comes to citizens with conservative points of view). So this IBD story is troubling:
The White House assures that tracking our every phone call and keystroke is to stop terrorists, and yet it won't snoop in mosques, where the terrorists are.
That's right, the government's sweeping surveillance of our most private communications excludes the jihad factories where homegrown terrorists are radicalized.
Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.
Who makes up this body, and how do they decide requests? Nobody knows; the names of the chairman, members and staff are kept secret.
We do know the panel was set up under pressure from Islamist groups who complained about FBI stings at mosques. Just months before the panel's formation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations teamed up with the ACLU to sue the FBI for allegedly violating the civil rights of Muslims in Los Angeles by hiring an undercover agent to infiltrate and monitor mosques there.
The FBI, according to IBD, launched dozens of sting operations against would be terrorists because of information obtained inside mosques.
Sure, it’s troubling to have agents attend religious services incognito. But as long as they aren’t disruptive (and they wouldn’t be since they’d be blending in) they need to be there to keep us safe. The elder Boston bomber had an altercation at his mosque that indicated how very radicalized and anti-American he was. Nice if an agent had been there.
I haven't made up my mind about the NSA snooping. But I wonder if Tamerlan Tsarnaev's calls to Russia were picked up by NSA but disregarded because he was a Muslim.