The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

August 8, 2013

Closing embassies was the right move

The Daily Star

---- — So, this is what all the security measures since 9/11 have been all about?

This is why we have to take our shoes off at the airport? This is why the National Security Agency is checking our emails? This is why we have the Patriot Act?

We got caught by al-Qaida with our security pants down on Sept. 11, 2001, but based on the latest news out of Yemen, we would seem to be a bit more capable of defending ourselves from terrorism.

On Tuesday, most of the personnel at the U.S. embassy in Yemen were evacuated to Germany. This followed the closing of 19 United States embassies in the Middle East and Africa to deal with an “immediate, specific threat.”

On Wednesday, according to the BBC, Yemen thwarted some nasty plans by al-Qaida, and a U.S. drone killed seven al-Qaida terrorists. The report said that al-Qaida had targeted the cities of Mukalla and Bawzeer and was going to attack two oil ports.

In addition, said Yemeni government spokesman Rageh Badi, militants were set to sabotage pipelines to “create panic among Yemini army and Yemeni security services.”

The Associated Press reported that a U.S. intelligence official and a Mideast diplomat informed it that the embassies were closed after a message from al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri to Nasser al-Wahishi — the leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula — was intercepted.

Would this kind of apparent intelligence and security success have happened before 9/11? We rather doubt it.

We have given up a good deal of personal liberty to achieve additional security, and whether we deem the sacrifice worth it or not, eternal vigilance will be required as long as there is an al-Qaida. We’re going to have to be smarter than the terrorists, and take proper precautions when necessary.

That’s something that’s not always apparent to those on the political fringes.

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert — known mostly for his wildly inaccurate pronouncements concerning the military and religion — was guest-hosting the Sean Hannity radio show on Monday when he objected to the closings of embassies and brought up the murders at the U.S. embassy in Benghazi.

“We’re the strongest country in the world militarily, even though the president’s doing a lot of hacking and cutting now, but we should not (close the embassies],” he said. “…What you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen again; you don’t have to close your embassies like a bunch of cowards that go running away.”

It was that “bunch of cowards” hubris that led to our vulnerability on 9/11. This time, our intelligence community was on the ball. We can be thankful for that.