Views on terrorism, immigration and Scooter Libby
I have three issues on my agenda for today’s column: immigration, terrorism and justice.
Comprehensive immigration reform – the Bush/Kennedy Amnesty Bill, that is – died in the Senate about 10 days ago, and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving piece of legislation. The Senate’s 46-53 procedural vote fell far short of the 60 votes necessary to limit debate, and the bill failed. I’ve already described this fatally flawed proposal as “an unmanageable and unenforceable bureaucratic nightmare,” and it got even worse as supporters kept adding amendments to make it more palatable. In a nutshell, Democrats were after Hispanic voters while business-oriented Republicans were after cheap labor.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) brought the bill back to the Senate floor even though he knew that he didn’t have the 60 votes needed to cut off debate. Several of his Democratic colleagues – most of whom face tough re-election battles next year – deserted their leader on the final vote, but he blamed Republicans for the bill’s defeat. “Immigration is going to have to wait until we get a new president and a new Congress,” Reid said after the bill was voted down.
This was a clear case of an elite group of Washington insiders, aided and abetted by the national media, trying to do a back-room deal to thwart the will of the American people, who adamantly oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants. Public opinion polls have shown that the people want the federal government to get serious about border enforcement before they’re willing to consider other aspects of immigration reform, like temporary worker programs and “pathways to citizenship.”
Republican hero Ronald Reagan set the stage for the current immigration showdown in 1986 when he championed an amnesty bill that allegedly included tougher border controls. There was no border crackdown, however, and the floodgates have remained open for 21 years to the point where we now have 10 to 12 million illegal immigrants living here who are receiving free medical care for themselves and their families, and free education for their children at taxpayer expense. Enough already!
If the War on Terror is nothing more than a bumper sticker, as Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards continues to assert, I think he’d better reconsider this life-and-death issue in the wake of the latest terrorist plot uncovered by police in Great Britain. It was a lot more than a bumper sticker when two radical Muslim doctors crashed an explosives-laden SUV into the main terminal building at Glasgow International Airport in Scotland last week. At the same time, police discovered two unexploded car bombs in London’s fashionable West End. Most of the eight suspects detained in the investigation were young medical doctors from Iraq, Jordan and India. Can you imagine what’s going on inside the warped mind of a medical doctor who’s sworn to save lives when he decides to kill innocent people in the name of his God? What kind of religion is that? By the way, it’s no coincidence that Britain’s new prime minister, Gordon Brown, is from Scotland. Obviously, these al-Qaeda wannabes were trying to intimidate Brown during his first few days in office. Fortunately, their bloody plot failed, thanks to excellent police work.
This terrorism investigation rekindled a spirited debate in the U.S. Civil libertarians always object to racial profiling but when all participants in these terror plots are young Arab males, perhaps we should pay extra attention to that particular segment of the population. I don’t think that’s racism, just reality.
Justice and Injustice
Last Sunday I wrote about miscarriages of justice. I don’t think that President Bush’s decision to commute Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s two-and-a-half-year prison term is a miscarriage of justice because Bush didn’t pardon Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff; he merely commuted one part of his sentence. The president, professing respect for the jury that convicted Libby, let stand a $250,000 fine and a two year probationary period.
Frankly, I don’t see much difference between Libby’s transgressions -lying and obstructing justice in a probe into the leak of a CIA operative’s identity – and those of President Clinton’s national security adviser, Sandy Berger, who was sentenced to community service and probation, and fined $50,000 two years ago for illegally removing highly classified documents from the National Archives and intentionally destroying some of them. On at least one occasion he had stuffed classified documents down his pants, which belied his claim that he had made nothing more than “an honest mistake.”
Frankly, I find both of these political prosecutions to be slightly over the top when compared to everything else that transpires in Washington. If federal prosecutors indicted everyone who’s told a lie or who has taken classified documents home, they wouldn’t have time to go after international drug traffickers and terrorists, or crooked congressmen. Let’s keep things in perspective.
But sadly, the two parties hate each other so much these days that they’ll do almost anything to destroy their perceived enemies. Without doubt, President Bush and Congress have earned their all-time-low public approval ratings and in my opinion, they also deserve a no-confidence rating from the voting public. We’ll have a chance to show them how we feel when we go to the polls next year.
• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is a semi-retired journalist who has spent more than 40 years in and around the news business.