Vice President Dick Cheney believes another terror attack on the United States is "inevitable." FBI Director Robert Mueller, in a speech Monday to a group of prosecutors, said "suicide bombers" eventually will hit America. Like Cheney, Mueller said such attacks are inevitable.
Should we be asking and answering some questions now, rather than after the anticipated attacks? Suppose members of the estimated (by the Senate Intelligence Committee) 100 al-Qaida terror cells now in this country decide to simultaneously blow themselves up in shopping malls, apartment buildings, a mega church, a synagogue and several airports all on the same day, killing thousands of people? What would our government do? What should it do? Is there a strategy to deal with such events? If so, should the public know what the plan contains? What would pictures of bleeding and dead Americans do to the national psyche?
An acquaintance of mine predicts "vigilante-ism of a kind like we've never seen before" following any new terrorist attacks. Against whom? No responsible person wants to see indiscriminate revenge taken against people who fit the standard profile of a "terrorist" (i.e. Middle Eastern-looking, Muslim, head covered and carrying a Koran). That would really mean terrorism has won because we would behave like the terrorists.
Should the president declare a national emergency right now and suspend some rights guaranteed by the Constitution so law enforcement authorities can search out every suspected haven of fanaticism? Do such places, in fact, exist? The 9-11 bombers lived in regular neighborhoods.
Since we know the profile of the typical terrorist bomber, does that mean we can exclude elderly white women of the type I saw being patted down by security people at LaGuardia Airport in New York recently? Or will we continue in the ridiculous exercise of political correctness run amok so as not to "offend" certain "groups"?
At a minimum, we should inform the regimes where terrorism is tolerated, if not fomented, that if we are struck again, we'll strike back again and with greater ferocity than we have in Afghanistan. President Bush stated as much shortly after 9/11. He should repeat his statement, this time with more passion. We know where a lot of these terrorist camps are located. We should take them out.
We must find new ways of keeping people out of America who come from regions of the world with a record of exporting death. That means no more "students" from Middle Eastern countries and no more immigration until we can do a better job of profiling those who come here. If that means stationing troops along both borders, electric fences, high walls, guarding our ports and installing listening devices, so be it.
We're in a fight for the survival of this nation. We've tolerated every kook who has wanted to burn our flag, curse our leaders, run down our values, sully our virtues, blaspheme the God a majority worship to protect the rights and sensitivities of the minority who don't, failed to teach American history because some are offended by it, accepted pornography and trash TV because it's supposedly the price we pay for a "healthy" First Amendment, protected criminals more than the law-abiding, treated the Bible like contraband in schools and wonder why people rebel against any "commandments," and taxed our productive citizens to subsidize the unproductive.
Too many young people know more about sex than about math, science and history. We refuse to promote marriage and produce babies out of wedlock as if we were biological beings without souls.
Our military might is unquestioned. Our moral strength has ebbed like Samson following that haircut from Delilah.
Our enemies have used our best character qualities against us tolerance, inclusion, forgiveness and pluralism. They believe in none of these concepts and think anyone who does is an enemy of their god.
Can we win this war without playing by their rules? Americans are unlikely to tolerate the suicide bombings Israelis have had to endure with increasing frequency. Our political leadership must choose a response to many possible scenarios. Should another terrorist attack occur, we'd better be prepared to strike at home and abroad without warning, without hesitation and with the full force of American military, political and moral might.
Are we ready to do this? Could someone in authority please answer these questions?
Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.