Our View: Standing up

Posted: April 24, 2013

We know two things about the bombing at the Boston Marathon. First, it would not have happened if the culprits, a pair of radicalized Chechen Muslims, had not been in this country. Second, it was another successful blow for Islamic jihad.

Taking the second point first, it’s worth reading what former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey wrote Sunday in The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Mukasey raised several questions about an investigatory lassitude, driven by politically correct fears of offending Muslims.

How will the High-Value Interrogation Group “do its work[?],” he asked. That unit, was “finally put in place by the FBI” after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “so-called underwear bomber,” tried to blow up the jetliner in which he was traveling on Christmas Day 2009. “The CIA interrogation program that might have handled the interview had by then been dismantled by President Obama,” Mr. Mukasey wrote.

As well, we now know the FBI has “bowdlerized,” as Mr. Mukasey observed, its training materials “to exclude reference to militant Islamism.” That happened after such “Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups as the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America” asked for it to be done.

And when the administration issues its conclusions about the bombing on Patriots Day in Boston, “[w]ill we see another performance like the Army's after-action report following Maj. Nidal Hasan’s rampage at Fort Hood in November 2009, preceded by his shout ‘Allahu Akhbar’ — a report that spoke nothing of militant Islam but referred to the incident as ‘workplace violence’?” he asked further. “If tone is set at the top, recall that the Army chief of staff at the time said the most tragic result of Fort Hood would be if it interfered with the Army’s diversity program.”

Mr. Mukasey ran off a list of unanswered inquiries about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the bomber who died in a hail of police bullets. But the biggest question, again, he wrote, is how the Obama administration will treat this jihadist attack. “For five years we have heard, principally from those who wield executive power, of a claimed need to make fundamental changes in this country, to change the world’s — particularly the Muslim world’s — perception of us . . . We have heard not a word from those sources suggesting any need to understand and confront a totalitarian ideology that has existed since at least the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s.”

As Mr. Mukasey noted, this “ideology” has, for more than a half-century, considered the United States its “principal adversary,” a mindset borne out in blood at the World Trade Center (1993), at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (1998), aboard the USS Cole(2000), and, finally, on 9/11. “All,” he said, “were fueled by Islamist hatred for the United States and its values.”

And now Boston.

Which raises the first point: visas. Granted, the Tsarnaevs have been in the country for some time. But had these two Chechen militants not been here, an 8-year-old boy would be alive and other Americans would have legs to walk on. The government could have expelled Tamerlan Tsarnaev a few years ago after his conviction on domestic violence charges. It didn’t. Why not?

Twelve years after 9/11, carried out by 19 foreigners with fraudulently obtained visas, the government remains clueless about who is here and why. And so the jihadists hit us again. It’s time for a visa policy aimed at what’s good for us, not what’s good for foreigners who want to come here. To stop what Mr. Mukasey rightly calls jihadist attacks, the jihadists have to be stopped at the border.

Thus, the time too has come for this nation to stand up for its values with the same fearless certainty as our enemies do theirs. And, for starters, that means acknowledging and identifying, as Mr. Mukasey does, the existential threat confronting us.