Obama gave a little speech the other day and, once again, little heed is paid to the fine print. In his address to the nation on Wednesday night, the president invoked the "threat" the Islamic State of Iraq and Lebanon posed to the world and promised to "degrade and destroy" the self-proclaimed caliphate.
Polls indicate that a plurality of Americans are happy with this crusade so long as it does not involve "boots on the ground" but can be accomplished in the Pac Man manner by remote control killing. The basically callous idea is that bloodshed is fine so long as it does not "involve" us. But it does involve us. This is what the president said,
"If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners – including Europeans and some Americans – have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks....
"I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. "
But "wherever they are" includes "some Americans" here ... "in their home countries." This non-war war will not only take place over there but over here as well. And that means that the U.S. Government will be hunting "potential threats" over here.
Do Americans suppose that these terrorists will wear some distinguishing badge or mark that makes them easily huntable? Back in 2008 CIA Chief, Mike McConnell told Congress that Al Qaeda had improved its ability to recruit operatives capable of "blending" into American society and attacking domestic targets. It was a "Duh Moment" in Congrease.
But if these fighters "blend in" with the rest of us, where exactly does that leave the rest of us? Thirteen years ago to the day, we warned that the war on terror was a war on ourselves,
"What the Government will have to presume is that everyone is at least a potential terrorist. In the most fundamental sense that is a presumption that is entirely antithetical to the concept of civil friendship, i.e., societas."
It took seven years for Mike McConnell to stumble onto the obvious; and still no one got it. It took six more years before Snowden leaked the obvious; and still people talk about targeting them in ways that don't target us.
It cannot be done because by definition terrorism and terrorist are unofficial, undercover, amorphous, formless. And this means that the threat -- that is, the potential harm -- could lurk anywhere.... over there and over here. That puts everyone under suspicion, and under suspicion, under surveillance and under surveillance, in prison.
Sounds like a loosing proposition to us.