Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Change in Homeland Security: Don't Worry, Be Happy

Michael Chertoff isn't running Homeland Security any more. I'm sure that some Americans will find this a great relief. The Associated Press points out that he "used law enforcement and military jargon — 'intelligence,' 'analysis,' 'mission' — to describe the agency's objectives."

Such harsh, confrontational language. Mr. Chertoff talked as if there was a war on: which, unhappily, there is.

Now, Americans have Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security Secretary. The good news is that she realizes that her department is supposed to help Americans:

"The department's mission is straightforward, she says in her prepared testimony: 'To protect the American people from threats both foreign and domestic, both natural and manmade — to do all that we can to prevent threats from materializing, respond to them if they do and recover with resiliency.' "

It was a bit of a relief to see the phrase "and manmade" in her remarks.

The lead paragraphs of The Associated Press's article on Obama's new-and-improved Homeland Security suggested that America's government was going to try a policy of outreach and reconciliation with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other (misunderstood advocacy groups?).

Four More Years: Being Nice Sounds - Nice

America hasn't been successfully attacked since September 11, 2001. Since 9/11, America's government has been acting as if there was a war on. Which, considering what happened on the south side of Manhattan, there arguably is.

Not all Americans have been happy about that. War is not nice: people get hurt and killed; and it distracts the masses from what they feel are more important matters.

Me, I think it would be nice if Al Qaeda didn't want to kill Americans.

But, as I pointed out in another post:

"Al Qaeda has a rather well-defined goal: 'to establish a pan-Islamic Caliphate throughout the world by working with allied Islamic extremist groups to overthrow regimes it deems 'non-Islamic' and expelling Westerners and non-Muslims from Muslim countries.' (GlobalSecuricty.org)

"...In February of 1998, Al Qaeda said that 'it was the duty of all Muslims to kill US citizens—civilian or military—and their allies everywhere.' (GlobalSecuricty.org)"

No matter how much American leaders avoid saying "war" and "terrorism," Al Qaeda is very unlikely to change its mind about its basic goals. I doubt that the Taliban will become more inclusive and tolerant, either.

Sometimes Being Nice Isn't Enough

I sincerely hope that Napolitano's seemingly-conciliatory tone is mostly for domestic consumption, that the current administration is willing to be unpleasant, if necessary, to stop another attack - and that terrorists don't assume that America has let its guard down.

I insist on being hopeful. And, no matter what happens, the next four years are going to be interesting.

Change, in the news:
  • "No terror talk: Homeland Security head's new tone"
    The Associated Press (February 24, 2009)
    • "WASHINGTON (AP) — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano avoids mention of terrorism or 9/11 in remarks prepared for her first congressional testimony since taking office, signaling a sharp change in tone from her predecessors.
    • "Napolitano is the first homeland security secretary to drop the term 'terror' and 'vulnerability' from remarks prepared for delivery to the House Homeland Security Committee, according to a copy obtained by The Associated Press...."
  • "Homeland chief orders gulf coast recovery review"
    The Associated Press (February 24, 2009)
    • "WASHINGTON (AP) — In one of her first moves as Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano has ordered a fresh review of hurricane recovery efforts in the gulf coast 3 1/2 years after two killer hurricanes swept ashore.
    • "In testimony prepared for a congressional hearing Wednesday, Napolitano said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will assign a new team of senior staff members to look at ways to improve hurricane recovery operations that have been under way since hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. The Associated Press obtained an advance copy of her testimony...."

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.