Published on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
The Basic Questions
by Larry Beinhart
The Financial Spying Program, how many people has it caught?
Who are they? Where are they? What has been done about them?
Did it catch anyone that could not have been caught another way?
What was the cost per catch?
Would that expenditure in time, effort and money, been better applied elsewhere?
Did it catch anyone that was part of 9/11?
Al Qaeda spent a lot of money on 9/11. They spent a lot of money elsewhere. How many of the Al Qaeda’s backers has this program found? More than one? Why haven’t they been arrested? Who are they? Where are they?
The wiretaps without warrants program, how many people did it catch?
How many operations did it interrupt?
How many arrests or captures did it lead to?
What did it cost? What does it continue to cost?
Is it cost effective?
If all that money – however much it is – had been spent in other ways, would we have caught more terrorists than we have caught to date?
Are we doing a really good job and catching a lot of the terrorists?
There don’t actually seem to be a lot.
There was the guy who wanted to take down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blow torch. Now there’s the Miami 6/Atlanta 1 (the Urban South 7?), who everyone describes as willing but not able. There was the Lackawanna Six. Were their captures a result of the wiretaps without warrants program?
Are they the cream of the terrorist crop?
Is that all there is and the best there is? We had to break all those rules and bend the constitution into a pretzel and spend all that money to get those guys? And the ten or twenty others I haven’t mentioned. But still not a lot and not very fearsome.
Were they captured as a result of the special expenditures and the special rule bending?
If they’re not the best and the brightest of the terror cadres, where are they and why haven’t we caught them?
We have also spent billions, killed tens of thousands, lost over 2,500 killed and an unknown number maimed and crippled, to get terrorists and terrorist breeding grounds and terrorist nests in Afghanistan and Iraq.
How many of those killed or captured could fairly be said to have been plotting against the U.S.
If there is an answer, can that number be documented in any way?
Can that number be divided into those who might have tried to move against the US before we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq and those who have been inspired by our wars?
Who is going to ask these questions?
The White House Press Corps? Richard Benedetto of USA Today? Ed Chen of the LA Times? Jessica Yellin of ABC? Ken Herman of Cox News?
Our Senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee? Pat Roberts? Trent Lott? Olympia Snowe? John D. Rockefeller IV? Diane Feinstein? Evan Bayh?
I won’t mention any congress persons, since the Republicans would never ask these questions and the Democrats would never be heard.
How about main stream media anchor people, commentators and reporters?
These are not hard questions to imagine. These are reasonable questions to ask. They are not ideological, liberal or conservative. They are simple. They are practical.
It is reasonable to ask, it is necessary to ask: do our government anti-terrorist programs actually do anything?
Larry Beinhart is the author of Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin, The Librarian and Wag the Dog. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org