Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blame Game

Stewart Baker, who is guest-blogging over at Instapundit, takes note of an unsurprising omission from the Senate Intel Committee's report on the intelligence failures that led to the Underwear Bomber's near-miss attack on Christmas Day: What Went Wrong In The X-mas day Bombing

WHAT WENT WRONG in the Christmas Day bombing? The Senate Intelligence Committee report identifies fourteen “points of failure.” Failure No. 2 is the decision not to put Abdulmutallab on the “no fly” list, which the intel committee attributes to “the language of the watchlisting standard, the manner in which it was being interpreted at the time, or both.”

Hang on. The intel committee is saying that the Bush Administration had made it too hard to put people on the watchlist? Was that the result of some previously unnoticed, late-breaking wave of Bush Administration squishiness on terrorism? Not exactly. What the intel committee doesn’t mention is a concerted 2008 campaign, led by the ACLU, that was intended to make the watchlisting standard more rigid, and did.

Read to whole thing for an excerpt from Baker's new book which addresses how the ACLU's well-rehearsed grandstanding can effect policy.

Baker rightfully wonders, why is it that the public interest organizations that advocate dangerous or destructive policy are never held to account when those policies fail? Well, need I remind you all that groups like the ALCU are left-liberal organizations with a significant amount of good will built up in the media and in the policy world?Liberals count on the ACLU to achieve their policy goals as much as they rely on the MSM and the courts. In fact, the relationship between the three is a symbiotic one. How many times have we seen the followings scenario play out: "conservative" policy - say, cutting benefits to illegal aliens (as was the case with CA's Prop. 187) - is passed over strenuous objections of liberal establishment; ACLU, or like-minded group, issues self-righteous denunciation and lawsuit; media plays up the "idealist" angle without questioning leftist motivations; activist court strikes down initiative? It's a major factor that anyone governing the US from the right has to face, and they often face it unprepared or outgunned.

The same pattern played out in the 2000's as the Left, using their allies in the public interest legal world, together with sympathetic press coverage, to undermine the Bush Administration's common sense tactics in the War On Terror. We quickly went from John Ashcroft's stout "Ghosts of Lost Liberties" to a quailing bureaucracy as a result of lawsuits brought by "idealistic" attorneys, which also had the effect of hopelessly scrambling the US's long-standing rules for dealing with prisoners of war.

Here in California, the redirection of water flows that have decimated the Central Valley, and the receviorship of the prisons for supposedly being unconstitutionally overcrowded, each began with lawsuits brought by the legal Left. They draw strength not just from fund raising and favorable media coverage, but also the laws themselves, which are usually drafted to allow for private attorneys general to act as a sort of enforcement agency with generous attorney fee provisions to boot. (why don't Republican legislators (a) object to this as a matter of course and (b) insert this into their legislation???)

Has the ACLU ever been called to account for this? Well, sort of. You can always get applause at a GOP rally by railing against them, but the mainstream portrayal of these sorts of attorneys is always on the "rumpled idealist" "questioning authority" side. If a Central Valley farmer complains about water cut-offs, it's always because of a "judge." But why was the judge asked to do this in the first place? And if a concerned citizen worries about terrorist attacks it's always "Bush's fault" which I guess has the virtue of simplicity if not truth.

We need to do more than win elections in November 2010 to roll back the Left. Their institutions must be rolled back as well.

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