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Terrorist was "always very naughty."--

The Sun has a series of stories on the backgrounds of the terrorists arrested yesterday. As I read the accounts, for some reason I kept thinking that Mark Steyn (or someone with his satirical skills) could write a great column on the quotes from family and friends.

Again and again, family or friends expressed surprise that the suspects could be terrorists because they liked football or cricket.

And one of the suspects who had converted from Christianity was described as "always very naughty" (he had been expelled from school):

"His mum is a PE teacher who regularly attends a local Methodist church. She is going to be devastated.

"He married recently but we don't know much about the wife and hardly ever saw her.

"She would appear in the street from time to time wearing a scarf round her head." . . . The owner of a nearby restaurant who has known Stewart-Whyte since he was a boy added: "He went to school with my daughter. He was always very naughty."

Among the other suspects arrested may have been a mother (along with a young child):

Among those arrested was a woman in her 20s who was taken into custody with her baby, claimed Muslim community leader Imtiaz Qadir last night.

He said: "A young Muslim lady was arrested and they have taken the child too, because it needs to be with its mother."

He added that he expected "an uproar" among the local community, once news of her arrest became known. . . .

Larry Knerr:

...Mark Steyn (or someone with his satyrical skills)...


Shhhh - his wife doesn't want that to get out.

[Larry: nicely done. I corrected the spelling in the post above. I have been reading Defoe's "The True-Born Englishman: A Satyr" for a review that involves natural rights so the old-fashioned spelling of "satirical" popped into my head.
--Jim Lindgren]
8.11.2006 3:12am
Nicholas Wourms (mail):
Would you please open the WSJ editorial to comments. I, for one, feel slighted since there is no mention of libertarians' strong opposition to domestic spying. Really, such uninformed commentary from an otherwise stellar publication. Alas, I gave up on their editorial page a long time ago.
8.11.2006 5:51am
Mongoose388:
You mean there are really times when all this domestic spying is necessary? Who knew?
Nice to here the Democrats come out this morning with their claims that the administration was politizing and capitalizing on this foiled terror plot....
8.11.2006 8:41am
Wacky Hermit (mail) (www):
They couldn't be terrorists because they liked football or cricket??

Reminds me of that Gilbert and Sullivan song:
"When a felon's not engaged in his employment,
Or maturing his felonious little plans,
His capacity for innocent enjoyment
Is just as great as any honest man's."
8.11.2006 9:40am
18 USC 1030 (mail):
To the WSJ editorial, I think the analysis seems a bit misleading. I don't think anyone was ever upset that people outside of the country were being monitored. We were (I'm not a liberal) weary of the fact that Americans, with no ties to terrorism could be targeted. And, if they were--in the name of national security--they could have no ability to remedy that invasion. Major difference. No one suggests the government shouldn't be allowed to protect us; the Preamble obligates the government to protect us. But, they can't do so in a manner that violates other rights. To say we who question the various programs are against the terrorist prevention, is something I'd expect from the NY Post--not the WSJ.
8.11.2006 10:13am
raj (mail):
That's from Rupert Murdoch's rag The Sun, right? About the equivalent of the American cable's Faux News Channel.

BTW, I was unaware that Mark Steyn was a satirist. I had come to the conclusion that he was just a nut.
8.11.2006 10:29am
Apodaca:
Perhaps Jim Lindgren or the WSJ editorial board can indicate how the communications surveillance at issue is connected to the program revealed last December. As you doubtless recall, that program was controversial because a) it involved communications to and from (and in some cases entirely within) the US and b) it was done without an order from the FISA court.

If the Britain-based conspirators were monitored only outside the US, or were monitored pursuant to a FISA order, how precisely would that justify the surveillance program in question?
8.11.2006 11:09am
nrein1 (mail):
Since you didn't engage comments are on your next post I am going to have to comment here. That Wall Street Journal editorial is increadibly dishonest. Liberals do no oppose survellence of terrorists, they just oppose doing so without going through the proper proceedure of getting warrents. They oppose the executive being able to listen in on conversations of americans with no oversight.
8.11.2006 11:11am
Mahan Atma (mail):
Re the WSJ piece -- what a straw man!

Nobody (including the ACLU) is claiming the govt shouldn't conduct any surveillance whatsoever. The claim is that the govt should do so legally -- e.g. by obtaining warrants.

Is there any indication whatsoever that the authorities were forced to use extralegal means to foil this plot?

And how in God's name does this support the war in Iraq?!?!?
8.11.2006 11:55am
Derrick (mail):
Re the WSJ piece

Unfortunately more typical Republican-talking points bs. No Democrat has ever come out against spying. For christ's sake we've been spying in this country since the American Revolution. What we oppose is the President taking the law into his own hands, and refusing to be accountable to anyone but himself. Letting a FISA court hear a subpeona to spy on someone at 2am in the morning is no restriction, it's just a safeguard to make sure that innocent Americans civil rights will be protected. There isn't a court in America that wouldn't have allowed the President to spy on those guys immediately and with impunity.

This shows that while Republicans talk a good game, the lack of seriousness needed to fight the actual enemy and not just use any issue to win domestic political battles, simply is not there.
8.11.2006 12:15pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
Oh, looky here:



It all began with a tip: In the aftermath of the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings on London's transit system, British authorities received a call from a worried member of the Muslim community, reporting general suspicions about an acquaintance.

From that vague but vital piece of information, according to a senior European intelligence official, British authorities opened the investigation into what they said turned out to be a well-coordinated and long-planned plot to bomb multiple transatlantic flights heading toward the United States -- an assault designed to rival the scope and lethality of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings.


SO: The investigation started not because of information gleaned from extralegal surveillance, but a TIP! A classic law enforcement lead!

Under the American system, that's something that can typically be made into probable cause with a little corroboration, and used to obtain warrants.

Whaddya know? The legal system works after all.
8.11.2006 12:25pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
^^^ For some reason my link didn't show up. That's from the Washington Post:

LINK
8.11.2006 12:26pm
MnZ (mail):
Did the people who are critizing the WSJ piece actually read it?

The WSJ was primarily contrasting the British approach to surveillance with the American approach. Domestic surveillance (including wiretaps) in the UK basically only needs a signed order of the home secretary. (There are no judges involved.) In contrast, when a much more limited program of surveillance was instituted in the US, people went ballistic.
8.11.2006 12:35pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
The WSJ was primarily contrasting the British approach to surveillance with the American approach.


Read that WaPo piece. It makes it pretty bloody clear that had this taken place in the U.S., the plot could have been busted up without violating the law -- that is, by developing probable cause and obtaining warrants.

The British government's ability to break this case did NOT arise out of datamining or massive nationwide wiretaps.
8.11.2006 12:52pm
nrein1 (mail):
MnZ I seemed to recall ac ouple hundred years ago some people having trouble with the way a number of things worked in england, especially regarding tyranny of the executive so they purposly set things up differently.
8.11.2006 1:29pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
In contrast, when a much more limited program of surveillance was instituted in the US, people went ballistic.

Actually, we didn't know until the NY Times wrote about it in 12/05 that the program was even "instituted" (great word; elides Bush's circumvention of law very nicely), and when Congress was told, they were also told to keep their mouths shut to everyone about the program. And how do you know it is limited, by the way? Bush said that revealing any details about it helps the terrorists.
8.11.2006 1:44pm
Houston Lawyer:
I think that it's pretty clear that many of the Bush administration critics see the administration as a greater threat than those who would blow up airliners. No reason for the WSJ not to point this out.

Meanwhile, we can continue to shake down 80 year old congressional medal of honor winners so that we don't hurt any Arab's feelings. I particularly object to Bush's statement that we are doing "everything we can" to make the airlines safer. We are not even trying very hard.
8.11.2006 1:51pm
WSJ Ed:
Jim,

I don't really see the point in posting a WSJ editorial in its entirety without any accompanying discussion, and without giving readers a chance to comment. By doing so, you're simply duplicating a service offered by the Journal, and depriving its site of traffic.

Either open the post, provide some commentary of your own, or take it down.
8.11.2006 2:33pm
MnZ (mail):
To people who responded to me:

I have mixed feelings about the NSA surveillance. However, it is a fact that law enforcement in the UK (and most of Europe) has a much freer hand in terms of surveillance. Therefore, if one opposes the NSA surveillance, then one should not use most European countries as representative of a "better way."

Moreover, some have complained that the NSA program and other programs were "secret." However, since government secrecy is vital to many government programs, one should avoid making a direct link between government secrecy and illegality.
8.11.2006 3:17pm
Apodaca:
Houston Lawyer says
I think that it's pretty clear that many of the Bush administration critics see the administration as a greater threat than those who would blow up airliners.
I think it's pretty clear that even if X is a greater threat than Y, there is often excellent justification for opposing Y. (E.g., people are occasionally murdered in my city, but I continue to think that car thieves -- a lesser menace -- need to be caught and prosecuted.)

Now, someone might attempt to argue that "criticism of Bush administration" = "increasing the threat of terrorist attacks on airliners" -- someone bereft of any shred of principled reasoning, that is.
8.11.2006 3:24pm
abb3w:
More apropos of the Sun piece, this is one reason why secret detainments have pluses and minuses. Is there really a woman and child detained, or not? For comparison, from Heinlein's "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" (emphasis added):
On 3 May '76 seventy-one males named Simon were rounded up and questioned, then released. No newspaper carried story. But everybody heard it; we were clear down in "J's" and twelve thousand people can spread a story faster than I would have guessed. We emphasized that one of these dangerous males was only four years old, which was not true but very effective.

Secret detainments provide an intelligence advantage over adversaries: they don't know who is and isn't a prisoner, and thus what secrets may or may not be revealed. On the other hand, if the detainment process isn't open (such as by the Writ of Habeus Corpus), an enemy of the state has a propoganda tool: claim such-and-such has been taken prisoner without justification. (Similar to the manipulation of the media regarding casualties, perhaps?) So, which is more important in the conflict: propoganda, or military intelligence? Any military minds want to comment?

All war is a continuation of politics by other means. — Clausewitz
All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means. — Zhou En Lai
8.11.2006 4:58pm
James Lindgren (mail):

Jim,

I don't really see the point in posting a WSJ editorial in its entirety without any accompanying discussion, and without giving readers a chance to comment. By doing so, you're simply duplicating a service offered by the Journal, and depriving its site of traffic.

Either open the post, provide some commentary of your own, or take it down.




WSJ Ed:

I appreciate your making your demand in polite terms.

I did not quote the entire editorial (as you claim); I quoted less than half of it (508 words out of the 1,219 words in the original).

With my other work, I have limited time today for monitoring comments. Given that, I did not turn on comments because I did not comment on the editorial myself. So much commentary on VC lately is not on the merits or demerits of the information or arguments being made by the blogger or the linked source, but instead on why someone posted something.

This WSJ editorial is being discussed elsewhere on blogs where the blogers have expressed their opinions (with which you might want to agree or disagree). Comments are open at Patterico and Captain Ed's.

At first glance, Ed's analysis seems to be a more nuanced approach than the WSJ's, even though the facts he uses have changed slightly since he posted.

Jim Lindgren
8.11.2006 5:45pm
Rex:
I did not quote the entire editorial (as you claim); I quoted less than half of it (508 words out of the 1,219 words in the original).
I think that's a weak response. One could make the argument that you've bumped right up against the fine line between fair use and infringement.

With my other work, I have limited time today for monitoring comments. Given that, I did not turn on comments because I did not comment on the editorial myself. So much commentary on VC lately is not on the merits or demerits of the information or arguments being made by the blogger or the linked source, but instead on why someone posted something.
This is a very odd thing to say. I think it's true that many commenters are quite critical in discussing certain posts, but in my view this is not off-topic at all; rather, such critiques tend to question the posters' biases and motives so as to raise the level of analysis, a practice expressly promoted by many of the conspirators. In short, when you post provocative things, it's unreasonable to expect automatic agreement from this crowd.

By you turning comments off due to an expected negative reaction, you're risking being seen as opposed to the criticism that is inherent in having a diverse readership.
8.11.2006 6:27pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Rex:

No question that 508 words tests the limits of fair use. I was refuting the claim that I had quoted the ENTIRE piece.

As for your other argument, I'll stand by what I wrote above. Attacking someone's arguments is always fair game, but attacking the "posters' . . . motives" is a form of ad hominem attack.
8.11.2006 7:08pm