Experts Weigh In on How You Can Combat Terrorism, Political Correctness

First there was Paris and now San Bernardino.  The terrorists have become emboldened.  It has become evident that America needs to combat the Islamic terrorists with two fronts, one at home and one abroad.  American Thinker interviewed national security experts for their opinions on how to fight the war here at home.

The president on Sunday night pressed Congress to approve legislation barring those on the "no fly list" from buying guns in the United States, even though these terrorists were not on it.  Former CIA director Michael Hayden noted, "Anyone expecting new or bold from President Obama's Sunday night Oval Office speech was surely disappointed.  That was probably inevitable, since the speech's timing seemed more dictated by politics and tanking poll numbers than any new policy initiatives.  Gun control is not the core issue here.  It just takes people's eyes off the ball.  Remember: there are a lot of people on that list with no legal recourse.  If you are going to deny people their constitutional rights, it has to be more stringent than that.  Look at France and their gun control laws.  How did that work out?"  As Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) reminds Americans, if not with guns, terrorists would kill with bombs, as in Boston, where pressure cookers were used.

Part of the problem is political correctness.  The president, his administration, and many Democrats like Hillary Clinton are in denial regarding radical Islam.  Chad Sweet, the national chairman of the Cruz campaign and the Homeland Security chief of staff during the Bush administration, believes that the first step in combating terrorism must "start with acknowledging the actual threat we face.  The Obama administration's refusal to call 'violent Islamist extremism' by its name creates serious confusion about what we're actually fighting against and how to defeat it."

All those interviewed want to remind Americans that they are similar to baseball fans being called the "tenth player."  They emphasize the policy of "see something, say something."  Yet it appears that conflicting signals are being sent when the words "Islamist extremist" seem to be off limits.

Michael Downing, the commanding officer in counter-terrorism at the LAPD, had an interesting conversation with American Thinker.  When asked about the situation with the neighbors in San Bernardino, he responded, "LAPD would have you articulate more, trying to get more information.  You are saying their suspicion is because they are Islamic, and that's not enough.  Just because they were working in the garage, that is not enough, and there has to be a little more to it.  LAPD would have possibly sent someone to do a door-knock.  Part of the solution is to find ways to integrate communities together so everybody doesn't feel isolated or separated."

He was asked if he felt that what was done in San Bernardino was due to isolation or to them being radicalized, considering that Tashfeen Malik had pledged allegiance to ISIS.  Downing's response: "I never talked to a journalist like this before.  You lack a little degree of professionalism.  I don't know where you are going with this line of questioning."

Where was he going with those comments?  First, just to report loud noises would mean only a neighborly dispute.  Second, the terrorists today are Islamic extremists, so in this case, reporting their ethnicity would have been important.  No one wants to spy on his neighbors, but suspicious activity should be reported and taken seriously by law enforcement.  Yet the essence of Downing's argument was that in order to be good Americans and citizens, people should find ways for better integration.

Jim Kallstrom, the former assistant director in charge of the FBI office in New York, commented, "Political correctness is at such an unusual height now.  People, like those neighbors, are afraid to call the police to say something unusual is going on.  They heard pounding at 2 AM in the garage but did not report it for fear of being accused of bigotry and profiling.  Those coming here must chose between enjoying our Constitution, our way of life, or isolating themselves by not assimilating, with the desire to change this country through sharia law."

William Gavin, also a former New York FBI assistant director, told American Thinker, "We have had political correctness shoved down our throats.  Texas is a good example.  If I were in that situation of seeing wires hanging out of an alarm clock, I would have said and done something.  This whole thing has turned upside-down.  We should be proactive."

Furthermore, "we don't have any common sense anymore.  It's not about the ethnicity of the people, but it's about their behavior.  I do think we should have situational profiling, which involves observing what is going on.  If someone is doing something inappropriate to the environment, say something.  In New York, they will go up to the nearest cop and do just that.  If your gut says something is not right, follow it."

What are the responsibilities of ordinary Americans?  Other than what was previously stated, Downing feels that relationships with law enforcement are important, including neighborhood watch meetings and joining police advisory boards.  Suspicious behavior includes if "there is a lot of fertilizer in the garage.  Do you smell chemicals, see outside plants turning yellow?  Hearing people meeting in the middle of the night, people making maps and plans, having a weapon in their waistband, or hearing them talking about jihad and death to America." 

Gavin wants people to understand that law enforcement has limited resources, yet "the police are out there trying to protect us and have our backs.  They should not be handicapped by taking the military equipment away from law enforcement, as the president wants to do.  Remember: in San Bernardino, the police used that equipment.  The answer is not taking away the equipment, but having protocols on how to use it.  The police's hands cannot be tied because of a couple of bad cops."

Another threat is the possibility of bringing in thousands of Syrian refugees into this country.  Gavin points to Paris.  "FBI director James Comey is saying we do not have a robust background check or a data base to check from.  He never spins anything for anybody.  He has such high integrity.  Comey is at odds with the president over this, considering 70 percent of the refugees are young men of military age."

In addition, a survey of Syrian refugees entering Europe found that 13 percent support ISIS and that 10 percent of the displaced Syrians have a lukewarm – i.e., not entirely negative – view of the terror group.  Considering the number of refugees that is a huge number.

Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas) is filing legislation to give governors the authority to deny refugee resettlement by amending the Immigration and Nationality Act.  He told American Thinker, "As a former judge and prosecutor, I understand background checks.  Many of the Syrian refugees have no identity, no fingerprints, and no ID.  I am all for humanitarian aid, but to let folks come in who we do not know would be doing a disservice to American security.  The reason I wanted the act amended is that it requires the federal government to consult with the states beforehand instead of getting their permission.  But this administration takes consulting to mean 'we will call you on the phone and tell you we are bringing them.'  The answer is to stop making them refugees by getting rid of ISIS and Assad.  We should possibly do what Turkey is doing: having the refugees go back home when the chaos ends.  Instead, here in the U.S., we let them stay."

Rep. Poe also had a bill passed to revoke the passports of Americans who joined ISIS so they would not be allowed to return to the U.S.  Unfortunately, this bill has been sitting in the Senate since July.  Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)'s bill, similar to Congressman Poe's, was also blocked.  Americans should wonder why that is, considering that the Republicans control the Senate.

All summarized their feelings that Americans can no longer be complacent.  They must be part of the solution by becoming law enforcement's assistants.  The War on Terror has once again come to the homeland, and Americans must be enlisted to help fight the battle with weapons of due diligence, ears, and eyes.  If not, more innocent Americans will die.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.