Protecting Our Civil Rights — The New Fight Against ISIS and Terrorism

Terror attacks are increasing in intensity and frequency, and it has become obvious that we must increase the invasiveness of our techniques in combating those elements. That, in turn, raises the issues of protecting our civil rights, which might be encroached upon in the process of counterterrorism activity. How we interdict violent terroristic attacks here and abroad and how we simultaneously protect our civil rights is not an easy task, but neither is it impossible. To understand the necessity of revisiting the methods of interdiction and its effects, it becomes important that we have some background in understanding the present nature of terrorism as it has evolved in recent times and as we shortly move into 2018. At the outset in our discussion we must ignore any slippery slope analysis. It does not enhance the depth of the discussion nor advance any meaningful analysis.

We should begin in June 2014. The ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. By that summer, the Islamic State’s territory covered about a third of Iraq and between a quarter and a third of Syria. It has been estimated that ISIS had become the richest terrorist organization in the world. In response to ISIS’s overwhelming territorial capture, and within months, an American-led international coalition was fashioned to attack ISIS. Not surprising, one year later (September 2015), Russia began its military intervention in Syria, initially to prevent the collapse of the Syrian regime and later to support the regime in fighting not only ISIS but other rebel organizations, referred to as “terrorist organizations”. To expand its sphere of influence, Russia has entered into an agreement for air support rights with Egypt.

The ISIS crises came to an head in early 2015, with the commencement of an intense and non-stop military campaign for the next two and half years, up to the time of writing this Commentary ( early December, 2017). It can be said, on the ground the Islamic State no longer exits. Lost are most of its captured territory including the historic cities of Mosul and Raqqa including those areas along the Euphrates River in both Iraq and Syria. It would, however, be a terrible mistake to say we have defeated ISIS and all is well. It is not.

We have recaptured land seized by ISIS, but ISIS, as a terrorist organization (along with its immense wealth), has not been defeated. It remains a real, continuing and enormous danger to our wellbeing. ISIS motivated and inspired attacks here, at home and abroad, will continue, and if history is any judge, they will escalate in intensity and scope with the demise of its territorial loss, and as thousands of their fighters who already have returned will return to their homes with their hatred intact. In addition, there is no longer the question some of those fighters will join or rejoin with some faction of a-Qaeda from which they had initially belonged. As reported, it has already shown its ability to easily function in far-flung places, while openly conscripting new and trained fighters in areas marked by political, social neglect or oppression.

As I have written in the past, our civil rights, protected both at home and abroad, is the cornerstone of our democracy and individual well-being. They must be protected but cannot be used to lesson our ability to defend ourselves and thus be an avenue thru which we are attacked. It is equally essential we not hamper our ability to anticipate and defend against the enemy. ISIS. Not Islam. Not those “dudes”. Not those who create fake shadow targets thru the internet.

There is a subtle but elusive bond and trust between our national government and the population. It is that bond and the trust that has been created that protects our democracy. We must have faith in our government. And in return our government must be “of the people and for the people.” Any concept of a “big brother” government must be rejected; an idea that we merely cede our rights in return for protection must be rejected. Without ceding self to an authority, we at the same moment, must have in place a robust form of law enforcement that protects that fragile structure against internal and external threats. At this juncture it is essential that we have an enhanced counterterrorism mechanism in place, but as I will discuss below, with a respected independent national oversight authority as a counterbalance. Not the Attorney General appointed by a President, not individual state legislatures, not ad hoc civilian groups created for particular contentious events. We must create a congressionally constructed legal body, independent of any presidential control that is funded and answers only to a joint bipartisan congressional committee, with neither political party having a deciding vote.

We have moved far from the time when we made hard distinctions between domestic and international forms of terrorism. The line between legitimate forms of dissent and terrorism is not as ambiguous as in the past. We have come to a time when it is essential that we employ enhanced law enforcement tools to increase our ability to interdict a terrorist before (s)he attacks. Not after the attack. Concurringly, during any ongoing investigation, it is essential that there be in place a process for the civil rights protection for the target. We are long past the time of Hoover’s FBI.

As noted above, with the creation of an independent body of trained lawyers and investigators who will have the appropriate “standing” (notwithstanding not having been retained by the target of any investigation) to appear before a federal court on behalf of these person, and to maintain the necessary secrets of any enquiry will any hearing will take place in camera. The effect is that those persons or entities under scrutiny will then have legal representation without being notified of any ongoing probe. The aim of this approach is that with the risk of terrorist attacks increasing,(yesterday at Times Square in New York City) we require our national defense, to be more robust and intrusive in our terrorist investigation, and that might further encroach upon civil rights. In order to minimize that intrusion and to be as certain as possible that whatever invasive procedure is permitted by court order, there must be evidence that underscores the seriousness of the potential threat and necessitates the need for the enhanced counterterrorism techniques requested. For that we need something more than the Government’s mere unilateral claim and procedural request to a court.

What becomes vital in our democracy is an independent analysis and review of the government’s request. This is accomplished by the creation of an autonomous group of attorneys who would appear before the appropriate court and act on behalf of the targets without the target’s knowledge. A safeguard is thereby created to protect against the government’s potential overreaching and violating the targets civil rights but also to provide the government with the appropriate, more intrusive tools to counteract a potential attack.

Aside from the lone copycat who more often than not flies-under-the-radar, terrorism on a larger scale is becoming more sophisticated and complicated in method and structure. It is essential that we refine and improve our methods of investigation or we will lose in that battle.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

Appeasement – It Never Works

Two events, not seemingly connected, suddenly brought clarity in the heated discussion that followed the horrendous attacks in Paris. I shall try to keep it simple.

The ISIS attack earlier this year in January targeted individuals associated with a political magazine and people shopping in a Jewish supermarket. The targets were symbols unmistakably identified: Those who were anti-Islam and those who were Jews. The attacks this month were far more treacherous and repugnant: at the heart of the citizens of France. Ordinary people, not symbols; people who were indiscriminately chosen to die merely because they were congregating in large numbers, in one place and so easily murdered.

When a person enlists or is drafted into an army during a war, there is the “possibility” they will be killed if they go into a conflict area. When a person enlists into the ranks of ISIS, there is the “likelihood” that they will be ordered to wrap a bomb around their bodies and die. There is an enormous difference in the mentality and focus of each of these warriors. One is a soldier, the other is a terrorist. ISIS is many times larger and stronger than al Qaida and its focus is more vast and horrific. They are barbaric.

To understand the political climate of appeasement in Europe today, and not often discussed, one need only exam EU (European Union). Founded in 1948, in the aftermath of World War II, it has as its mission the guarantee of peace, stability and economic cooperation in Europe. Today, the EU membership has risen to include 28 European countries. The EU does not recognize the annexations of territories by several world governments. And although it’s  barely been heard in the discussions in the aftershock of the Paris attacks, its members choose to demand special labeling of products produced from only one region in the world—products from the Golan Heights and the West Bank—Israeli products.

The reason is clear: it is the EU’s hope that the world would boycott products from Israel. All in the aim of forcing the State of Israel to choose between facing an economic boycott and a possible financial crises or bending to the will of the Islamic world. A somewhat round about way of saying: look what we’re doing for you so please keep your terrorist at home. Appeasement did not work to stop WWII and will not stop ISIS.

The EU’s act is so clearly overt that it reminded me of Hitler directing that we should identify the Jews to isolate them from the rest of the German community and then the world by wearing the Star of David on their clothing. The EU order is no different. Label a person, label a product–to discriminate.

In addition, if one were to look at the internal social structure–the voices of the people in England, France and Germany, one identifies the rising violent voice of anti-Semitism –anti Israel. Yet being anti-Israel has not helped the following nations from attack: Academia in England is as anti-Israel as one can get, and still they haven’t secured a safety net from the Islamic terrorist. Hate crimes against London’s Jewish minority have surged over the last 12 months with an increase of 93.4%, according to figures from the Metropolitan police. In the 12 months from July 2014, police recorded 499 anti-Semitic crimes in London compared with 258 in the same period the preceding year.

In Germany Scrawling swastikas on synagogues, Jew-baiting during demonstrations, desecration: Seventy-five years after the Holocaust, hatred against Jews is taking place openly in Germany, even in schools. The number of crimes linked to anti-Semitism in Germany increased dramatically over the past year. While 788 cases were registered in 2013, there were 864 cases registered in 2014 a 10 percent increase. The most famous department store in Germany announced its agreement to labeling products produced from Israel.

In Rome, more than 70 disturbing hate messages were scrawled with black and red paint on Jewish businesses and throughout the so-called Jewish Ghetto around the city’s main synagogue. Phrases like “Anne Frank Was A Liar,” “Dirty Jews,” “Jews your end is near,” and “Israel executioner” were written in spray paint.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister came out strongly in support of the EU’s boycott attempting to link the issues in Israel with the ISIS attack in France. And in the United States, the American Anthropological Society (an academic institution), in what can only be described as an infamous vote, resoundingly approved a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a vote of 1040-136. We can only wonder how we are to define the word “academic” in the future?

Given the nature of ISIS, there is no method to reach a system of negotiations nor to employ appeasement strategy. ISIS is a cancer that has metastasized, and the mere snipping at its surface does not impede its growth. Isis is an amorphous enemy state, not a terrorist cell. It has enormous capability and controls large swaths of territory.  It has supreme success in recruitment among the young, and therein lays a great deal of its strength. And yet in France, with the strictest security apparatus in place, which would make the ACLU cringe in despair, its attack was not prevented.

To be Anti-sematic/anti-Israel is not sufficient to fend off an ISIS attack and hatred. To attempt to financially cripple Israel is not sufficient to appease ISIS. There is no appeasement and, therefore, we cannot mince words in describing, without political correctness, those who support the idea that the world would be better off without those—whomever “those” might be who do not follow the ISIS dogma.

In the past few days, at a soccer stadium in Turkey, as the announcer asked for a moment of silence for those who had died in the Paris assault, there were those who booed and chanted “Allahu Akbar” –an Islamic phrase meaning “God is Great”, the very words chanted by those who attacked the innocent people of Paris with their guns and vest bombs. In addition, politeness is no longer an acceptable method in dealing with those who passively support this reign of terror.

One last thought: On the world stage, the more the United States waffles, hesitates and ignores its own “lines drawn in the sand”, the weaker we become and not only endanger our own security but lose the moral leadership in the world. We need straight talk and affirmative action. We can no longer afford to do anything less.

Appeasement, in whatever form, to whoever offered, invites greater violence not peace.

Richard Allan

The Editor

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[1] The Kashmir region is defined by the international community as a disputed territory. Tibet was occupied by the Chinese army in 1958 and unilaterally annexed by Beijing.  Morocco invaded the Western Sahara region and unilaterally annexed it. The Turkish army invaded Northern Cyprus, expelled hundreds of thousands of Greek speakers, and established the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula

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