Tag Archives: terror

‘Missing the boat’ on terror?

At first, I wasn’t sure I heard correctly what a North Texas congresswoman said about President Biden’s responsibility for the terrorist attack on a Colleyville synagogue.

She said Biden is paying “too much attention” on “far-right domestic terrorists” and ignoring the threat from foreign terrorists. Biden is “missing the boat” on the terror threats, she said.

So said Beth Van Duyne, a Republican whose congressional district includes the Colleyville community that is home to the synagogue where a British citizen took four people hostage.

In a House floor speech, Van Duyne proposed a resolution citing the heroism of the rabbi who tossed a chair at the hostage-taker, giving himself and his three congregants a chance to escape. FBI agents then stormed the Congregation Beth Israel and shot the hostage-taker to death; Van Duyne wants to honor their heroism as well.

Yes, indeed, there is plenty of heroism to honor and I am glad Van Duyne wants to bestow that recognition.

However, I will not accept that President Biden is to blame for allegedly ignoring the threat of terrorists who come to this country to do us harm. My goodness, Biden responded quickly with a statement that declared the man’s threats in Colleyville to be a “terrorist act.”

I guess my question of the moment is: How in the world does one stop someone from doing what the lunatic did? He wasn’t on terrorist watch lists of which I am aware. He walked into the synagogue, shook hands with the rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, and then surprised everyone with demands that the Justice Department release a woman held in a federal prison on terror-related crimes.

Van Duyne said that the loon didn’t take hostages “at an Applebee’s,” that he targeted a synagogue because he intended to commit a hate crime.

I will point out, too, that FBI Director Christophe Wray — appointed to his post by Donald J. Trump — said in 2019 that domestic terror presented the gravest threat to our national security.

There’s a saying we hear in Washington from time to time about how officials are able to “walk and chew gum at the same time.” I believe President Biden is devoting ample attention to threats from all corners … be they foreign or domestic.


More like a stand-up double, maybe, Mr. President

The president of the United States believes he “hit a home run” on his first trip abroad as head of state.

I believe I will disagree with Donald J. Trump on that one.

“But we have been gone for close to nine days. This will be nine days. And I think we hit a home run no matter where we are,” Trump said in Italy as he prepared to return home — and into the political maelstrom that awaits.

Let’s review:

* He started in Saudi Arabia and delivered an acceptable speech to a room full of kings, presidents and potentates about the threat of international terrorism. It’s interesting that he would make such a speech in a country that has done next to nothing to curb its breeding of terrorists. Hey, wasn’t Osama bin Laden a Saudi native?

* Trump ventured to Israel, where was met by government officials who were steamed that he revealed classified secrets to Russian visitors earlier that had come from Israeli intelligence officials. Lord knows what Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu likely told him in private.

* Then he went to the Vatican and met with Pope Francis, who he had criticized while campaigning for the presidency because the Holy Father disagreed with some public policy statements the candidate had made.

* Trump then ventured to Brussels, where he scolded NATO allies because some of them aren’t paying enough for the defense of Europe against Russian threats and those threats presented by terrorists. The reactions of the heads of state and government who heard the lecture couldn’t have been more instructive; they couldn’t believe the president would dress them down in such a public manner.


Along the way, the president was met with concern, a bit of anger over past statements. By my way of reasoning, he didn’t do much to assuage the concerns of world leaders who are concerned about the absence of any public service experience in his background.

Home run, Mr. President? Hardly. I’d say you hit — maybe — a stand-up double.

Keeping the faith on the Olympics

It’s becoming almost normal, it seems, for international sports authorities to worry about the Summer Olympics preparation.

Will the hosts be ready? Will the country survive the onslaught of tourists and athletes? Will its venues be complete? Oh, and what about the terror threat?

Rio de Janeiro is going through all of that — and more — as it prepares for the 2016 Olympics.

Pardon me if I sound a bit skeptical, but I believe we’ve been through a good bit of this before — only to have our worries shown to be overplayed and overblown.

I get the concern worry about the Zika virus; no one wants to get bit and then have something terrible happen to their offspring. The Brazilian economy appears to be tanking. The country’s political leadership is in turmoil. The cops keep finding corpses near the sporting venues, which quite naturally is unsettling in the extreme.

What has happened, though, in previous run-up periods in recent Olympics, though, is that the planners find a way to pull it together.

Let me give you three examples:

Atlanta, 1996: Atlanta had traffic woes. There was deep concern over whether the city would be able to accommodate the huge crush of visitors. And after the Barcelona Games four years earlier, there were stated concerns about whether the Atlanta organizers could come up with an opening ceremony worthy of the Olympics; the world had been abuzz over that Spanish archer firing the flaming arrow over the Olympic cauldron.

Well, the traffic was a bit of a problem, but they managed.

As for the opening ceremony … well, they kept the identity of the athlete who would light the torch a surprise. Then out stepped the late Muhammad Ali to electrify the world. There wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium that night — or anywhere else.

Athens, 2004: The Greeks managed to pull off one of the more elegant and — to me, at least — meaningful Olympics in recent memory. They had their difficulty. There was actual worry about whether they would have the venues completed. The Greek organizing committee members were stabbing each other in the back with their bickering and quarreling.

In stepped Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who managed the Greeks’ winning bid to get the Games. She pushed the men aside and got the job done.

Security threat? Forget about it. The Greeks deployed virtually their entire military to assist with the police and international intelligence agencies in ensuring nothing would happen.

The Games were magnificent.

Beijing, 2008: The People’s Republic of China had a unique concern. Pollution chokes the air in China’s capital city. The athletes feared they couldn’t compete in an atmosphere where they would be choking on motor vehicle and factory fumes.

Venue preparation was not a concern for the communists. They know how to get things done and, of course, they don’t tolerate dissent in any form.

How did they clean up the air? They imposed a sort of motor vehicle martial law. They banned driving during several hours of the day. They also strongly encouraged citizens to use available mass transit whenever possible.

The result? Problem solved. The air wasn’t perfect, but the athletes were able to compete in show-stopping fashion during the Beijing Olympics.

London had its share of woes as it got ready for the 2012 Summer Games, although they seem a bit muted now four years since.

I know that many top athletes are opting out of the Rio games over Zika fears. That’s their call and I won’t second-guess them.

But this talk about moving the Olympics out of Rio never had legs.

I am the eternal optimist about the Brazilians’ ability to take the stage and do what they must to ensure a safe and joyous Olympic event.

The world will be watching.

Terrorism begets frayed nerves


Tragedies such as what occurred in Orlando, Fla., over the weekend have a sobering impact on all of us.

We’re all on edge. The nation has been shaken.

Then something happens closer to home — a lot closer to home, in fact — and your hair stands straight up in a manner it otherwise might not had the earlier tragedy not occurred.

This morning I was driving home from an assignment in Pampa, Texas. My phone rang; I answered it using the Bluetooth device in my truck. It’s my wife.

“Where are you?” she asked. I tell her I’m on Amarillo Boulevard about to turn south onto Loop 335.

“Don’t go near Interstate 27 and Georgia Street,” she instructed me. “The police have it blocked off. There’s a shooter.”

Holy s***!

It turns out that someone was holding someone else hostage inside the Walmart store at that intersection. Police had cordoned off the area. They were negotiating with the gunman.

I got home and watched the news. Not much time after returning home came word that law enforcement officers had shot the gunman to death. The hostage is OK.

The crisis is over. Now comes the investigation into what happened and why.

Then it occurred to me. This is what acts of terror do to people. The gunman in Orlando might have committed that horrific act for any number of reasons.

The bottom line is this: He terrorized that community and in the process put the rest of this very large and powerful nation on edge.

Suffering the symptoms of fear as a result of a terrorist act is no fun at all.

Quite obviously, I’m glad the crisis is over and that the Amarillo Police Department, the Randall County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety, which I know to be run by dedicated professionals, did their jobs.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for keeping us safe.

We all can breathe again.


G.W. Bush would be laughed at … by GOP base

UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 16:  U.S. President George W. Bush waves upon arrival at RAF Aldgerove in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Monday, June 16, 2008. Gordon Brown, U.K. prime minister said Britain is pushing the European Union to impose new sanctions against Iran, including freezing the assets of its biggest bank, to pressure the nation to give up its nuclear program at a press conference with Bush in London today.  (Photo by Paul McErlane/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

President George W. Bush sounded like the voice of reason in the days immediately after 9/11.

We aren’t fighting Islam, the president said. We are fighting those who have perverted a great religion, he added. “Islam means ‘peace,'” he cautioned.

The response today among some of the individuals seeking the Republican nomination for president? Let’s keep eyes on all Muslims. Kids. Moms and dads. Old folks. All of ’em!

Let’s mount an aggressive “surveillance” campaign against them, says Donald Trump.

OK, so let’s all live in abject fear, shall we?

To do that we’ll need to stay away from schools, churches, movie theaters, shopping malls … places where violence has erupted in this country already. As near as I can tell, none of those incidents involved foreign terrorists. They all were done by home-grown, corn-fed good old American terrorists, who sought to exact revenge on innocent people.

Would those who comprise today’s Republican base believe the rational views — about the identity of the enemy we are fighting — expressed by the president who took us to war in the first place?

My gut tells me “no.”


Bush tossed under the bus?

This likely is a minority opinion, but I’ll suggest it anyway: It’s sounding to me as though former President Bush’s inner circle is trying to toss the commander in chief under the bus on this Senate report dealing with how the CIA treated suspected terrorists.

The Senate Intelligence Committee summary report issued by the Democratic members blames the CIA for misleading the president and the public over the “enhanced interrogation techniques” being employed to glean intelligence from terror suspects immediately after 9/11.

The implication is that President Bush was kept in the dark. It’s the CIA’s fault that this went on.

Then here comes former Vice President Cheney and former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden to say, “Oh, no. The president was made aware of what the CIA was doing.” Cheney talked to Fox News about it; Hayden spoke to MSNBC. They both said the president was kept in the loop during all of it.

Interesting, yes?

I haven’t read the entire summary. I have seen excerpts. Some of it is quite grotesque, detailing how interrogators injected suspects with pureed food through what was described as “rectal feeding.”

Did the president know that was occurring?

This debate will continue likely well past the foreseeable future. It’s the next top story du jour.

If the president was unaware of what the CIA was doing, then the former VP and the ex-CIA boss haven’t done him any favors by blabbing about what he knew and when he knew it.

Might there be some backside-covering going on here? I’m just asking.