Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ya gotta watch what you say!

This article from the NY Times underscores the dangers I mentioned earlier for progressives. As the government becomes more and more desperate to prove that they are effective, and that the administration needs to be allowed free rein to fight threats, the action required to get one arrested is less and less.

The NY Times report says:
Published: July 9, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 8 — In Miami last month and now in New York, terror cases have unfolded in which suspects have been apprehended before they lined up the intended weapons and the necessary financing or figured out other central details necessary to carry out their plots.

For officials in Washington, it is a demonstration of the much-needed emphasis in this post-9/11 era for pre-emptive arrests.

"We don't wait until someone has lit the fuse to step in," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Friday at a news conference about the New York plot.

But the Miami and New York cases are inspiring a new round of skepticism from some lawyers who are openly questioning whether the government, in its zeal to stop terrorism, is forgetting an element central to any case: the actual intent to commit a crime.

"Talk without any kind of an action means nothing," said Martin R. Stolar, a New York defense lawyer. "You start to criminalize people who are not really criminals."

In the two most recent plots, the authorities have simultaneously warned that the suspects were contemplating horrific attacks — blowing up the Sears Tower in Chicago and setting off a bomb in a tunnel between New York and New Jersey — but then added that as far as they knew, no one was close to actually making such a strike.

In the Miami case, an F.B.I. official said at a recent hearing that the suspects apparently did not have written information on how to make explosives, details on the layout of the Sears Tower or any known link to a terrorist group.

In New York, officials said Friday that none of the eight suspects believed to be planning the tunnel attack were in the United States, and that they apparently did not have bomb materials and had not completed reconnaissance work on their supposed target.

The arrest on April 27 in Beirut of Assem Hammoud, 31, a Lebanese man who is accused of being the mastermind of the tunnel plot, came after the authorities monitored Internet chat rooms used by Islamic extremists who had used coded language to discuss a possible attack. One American official said the members of the group had never met one another.

In announcing the case, federal officials, including Mr. Chertoff, said the government could not waste time trying to determine whether the suspects were smart enough or serious enough to turn their threats into destructive action.


http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/09/us/09plot.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin
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