How Bush called on Americans to guard themselves against Islamic terrorism, while he punished them for doing so

(Note: See my comment about how persons from minority groups that feel they have a grievance against the United States, such as Bush Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, should not be officers of the United States unless they avow they personally are free of such resentment.)

Back in 2004, former Secretary of the Navy and then-9/11 Commissioner John Lehman told columnist Michael Smerconish something devastating about the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policy which I’m not sure has ever become common knowledge. I’ve seen passing references to it, but never anything this direct. The column was discovered by Paul Nachman. Smerconish wrote:

“We [the 9/11 Commission] had testimony a couple of months ago from the past president of United, and current president of American Airlines that kind of shocked us all,” Lehman told me. “They said under oath that indeed the Department of Transportation continued to fine any airline that was caught having more than two people of the same ethnic persuasion in a secondary line for line for questioning, including and especially, two Arabs.”

Wait a minute. So if airline security had three suspicious Arab guys they had to let one go because they’d reached a quota?

That was it, Lehman said, “because of this political correctness that became so entrenched in the 1990s, and continues in current administration. No one approves of racial profiling, that is not the issue. The fact is that Norwegian women are not, and 85-year-old women with aluminum walkers are not, the source of the terrorist threat. The fact is that our enemy is the violent Islamic extremism and the overwhelming number of people that one need to worry about are young Arab males, and to ask them a couple of extra questions seems to me to be common sense, yet if an airline does that in numbers that are more than proportionate to their number in particular line, then they get fined and that is why you see so many blue haired old ladies and people that are clearly not of Middle Eastern extraction being hauled out in such numbers because otherwise they get fined.”

Smerconish also has some good words for McCain in this paragraph:

I’m starting to understand why John McCain was insistent that Secretary Lehman be put on the commission. Like McCain, Lehman isn’t beholden to the partisan Democrats, or to the administration. This former Navy reserve officer who flew combat missions over Vietnam and was named Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy when he was just 38 years old, seems only to want the truth exposed, without regard for the blame game that has come to characterize the public proceedings of the 9/11 Commission. I only wish we had nine more like him, in which case I’d be much more confident that we’re in the process of getting to the bottom of what went wrong and ensuring it doesn’t happen again, instead of the high-stakes partisan skirmish that seems to have taken shape.

Paul Nachman adds:

Less spectacularly but still notable, I came upon a Daniel Pipes article that includes this:

April 24, 2005 update: When Tim Nelson, a flight school staffer whose suspicions helped lead to the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui, told his worries in August 2001 to officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, they responded, “What did [Moussaoui] do that’s illegal?” And then this: “We’re the tombstone agency. We don’t do anything until there’s a tombstone.” Those eight words recapitulate the same problem.

That’s another version of the “We only subject people to secondary screening if we know that they’re planning a terrorist attack” mentality you’ve just written about.

- end of initial entry -

Paul Nachman writes a follow-up:

The idiot heading the Transportation Department under Bush was former Rep. Norman Mineta, who had been in one of the World War II exclusion camps, which was apparently the key experience of his life.

LA replies:

The specific policy may have been Minetta’s, but Bush allowed it.

However, the way Mineta’s lasting sense of grievance over America’s World War II-era treatment of the Japanese Americans led to his “no more than two Muslims can be screened at a time” policy should make us realize that individuals from self-consciously victimized minority groups should be subject to particularly close examination before they are approved for high level government positions. Thus if they have been nominated to be the Secretary of a government department, they should be asked by the Senate whether they personally have a sense of grievance against the United States and whether it will influence their decisions.

People who belong to a minority group which feels it has been victimized by the United States should not be officers of the United States government, unless they can demonstrate that they as individuals have gone beyond any such feeling of grievance and stand for America 100 percent. This is a principle that needs to be introduced into American politics. It would have excluded, e.g., Barack Obama from being President of the United States and Eric Holder from being Attorney General.

James P. writes:

You wrote:

“People who belong to a minority group which feels it has been victimized by the United States should not be officers of the United States government, unless they can demonstrate that they as individuals have gone beyond any such feeling of grievance and stand for America 100 percent.”

Good luck finding a black person who fits this description. =)

Indeed, how could they go beyond such feelings, when they have been subjected to decades of media and academic conditioning specifically designed to inculcate feelings of grievance? For a member of a minority group not to feel a sense of grievance would require an almost superhuman effort to overcome what everyone around him is saying. Members of such groups are not well known for their superhuman powers of ratiocination, and thus if such a person said he felt no sense of grievance, I would naturally suspect he was lying.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 06, 2010 01:05 PM | Send

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