Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Winning the War on Terrorism

But just barely:
Just 39% of Americans now believe the U.S. and its allies are winning the War on Terror. That's down from 42% earlier this month and from 44% in January. With just one exception, this is the lowest level of confidence ever measured by Rasmussen Reports.
There are a few ways you can react to my writing this. You can whine about how, by reporting this number, I'm destroying America. You shake your head and feel sad about the state of the world.

Or you can get in touch with people in power and tell them to get serious. Stop messing around with phone surveillance that doesn't do any good. Stop complaining that the media isn't telling the good side of the story. Stop making a hash of port security.

Make a plan to get our troops out of Iraq, so they can be available to hunt terrorists. Get DHS to come up with a serious plan for an attack or major disaster in every major city. If Katrina was bad, imagine what would happen if we didn't have a few days warning that New Orleans was in danger. DHS dropped the ball, and it isn't the fault of good, hardworking people in staff positions, it's the fault of political appointees who where doing everything but securing the homeland, and now are spending their time covering their asses rather than saving ours.

We can fight imaginary enemies from a Tom Clancy movie or we can do the hard work of securing America and the world against guerrilla attacks and asymmetric warfare. We've been doing too much of the former, and it isn't helping.

The 9/11 Commission spent years studying the state of homeland security and made simple recommendations. Those simple suggestions haven't been implemented, and the ones that have were done badly.

Today's Times reports:

A year after a sweeping government reorganization began, the agencies charged with protecting the United States against terrorist attacks remain troubled by high-level turnover, overlapping responsibilities and bureaucratic rivalry, former and current officials say.

Progress has been made, most of the officials say, toward one critical goal: the sharing of terrorist threat information from all agencies at the National Counterterrorism Center. But many argue that the biggest restructuring of spy agencies in half a century has bloated the bureaucracy, adding boxes to the government organization chart without producing clearly defined roles.
It took 5 years, but the professionals are speaking out, the public is annoyed, and the Congress is noticing some dangly parts betwixt their legs. Senator Collins (R-ME) released a non-classified Coast Guard report on the UAE ports deal. The Guard warned:
There are many intelligence gaps, concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations, that precludes an overall threat assessment of the potential merger. … The breadth of the intelligence gaps also infer [sic] potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities.
Maybe those gaps can be filled, but we won't know if they have or haven't been filled unless there's a real investigation, one that can end in the deal being rejected.

As 72% of American troops in Iraq support withdrawal within a year. The Bush administration doesn't seem to have a plan to do that. Luckily, the Center for American Progress has stepped forward with their own suggestion, a strategic redeployment that engages the full scope of the war against terrorism.

Maybe someone will be there to listen in 3 years.