Tuesday, November 30, 2010


"Do you remember when 9/11 happened when those people were jumping from skyscrapers? I thought that was awesome."
-Mohamed Osman Mahmoud

Portland, Oregon is a pretty obscure place to most of the world. Even in America some folks aren't exactly sure where Oregon is and if they've heard of Portland it may be only because of the Trailblazers basketball team. Its unlikely that al`Qaeda knows much if anything about the place. It has no strategic significant, it isn't a major center of commerce, there is no military base.

Yet it is home to over a million people and some of those people are not very nice folks. Every year Portland has a generic non-threatening holiday display in Pioneer Square to celebrate... well I'm not exactly sure what they're celebrating but it seems to involve trees and winter, somehow. And that was enough for one Somali immigrant to decide it was the perfect place for a bomb.

He was caught trying to set off a fake bomb the FBI helped him set up, and while I'm always uncomfortable with this kind of sting, the guy clearly wanted to be a terrorist and he really tried to really kill people in a crowded downtown area of Portland with a huge bomb.

You've read about this a lot lately but what really caught my attention was an opinion piece at the Washington Examiner by Byron York who pointed out something significant about the whole affair:
What is ironic is that the operation that found and stopped Mohamud is precisely the kind of law enforcement work that Portland's leaders, working with the American Civil Liberties Union, rejected during the Bush years. In April 2005, the Portland city council voted 4 to 1 to withdraw Portland city police officers from participating in the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. Mayor Tom Potter said the FBI refused to give him a top-secret security clearance so he could make sure the officers weren't violating state anti-discrimination laws that bar law enforcement from targeting suspects on the basis of their religious or political beliefs.

Other city leaders agreed. "Here in Portland, we are not willing to give up individual liberties in order to have a perception of safety," said city commissioner Randy Leonard. "It's important for cities to know how their police officers are being used."
See, the Portland government, and likely many of its very left-leaning citizens, were among the most hysterically anti-Bush loonies during the naughties. There were regular protests against a Republican being in office, there were soldiers burned in effigy for fighting terrorism, there were statements made in opposition to liberating millions of Iraqis and Afghanis, and so on.

And it was all done in the cozy blanket of comfort assuming terrorism just wouldn't ever hit Portland. Its a smaller city, unknown, on the west coast with no symbolic or strategic value. Its safe to declare that the local law enforcement won't fight terrorism. Its safe to defy the government because like most big cities, Portland declared they would not enforce federal immigration laws long ago with absolutely no negative results.

But it was the policies and efforts of the very people that Portlanders rejected, mocked, and attacked which grabbed a would-be terrorist from their midst. This guy wasn't some well-meaning person twisted by FBI tales, he wasn't a normal fellow manipulated into the act of trying to detonate thousands of Oregonians. He was a guy who flew to train with the Taliban in Pakistan and wanted to be a terrorist, he wanted to do an attack like 9/11. The FBI just gave him some help in building the means to carry out a plot, they didn't push him into anything.

In Portland, Oregon. Maybe, just maybe that crazy Bush wasn't so crazy after all. Maybe those FBI guys who want local help to fight terrorism aren't the liberty-trampling secret police that the left seemed to think.

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