Roger L. Simon

Tap Dance

A couple of days ago, ABC’s Alexis Debat had a column on the series of anonymous runners (evidently even to each other) Al Qaeda uses to bring Bin Laden audiotapes from their leader’s hiding place to the offices of Al Jazeera. As usual, Al Qaeda prefers personal private communications to public. Years ago they abjured satellite phones. They knew we were listening.

This is another reason the brouhaha over NSA wiretaps (recently encouraged by Al Gore) strikes me as a charade. When terrorists take to the cell phones, for the most part they do it as quickly as possible. If we don’t react just as quickly, the terrorists (and their plans) have vanished. Everyone knows this, including, I would assume, Mr. Gore, who was close to the helm himself for eight years, though one wonders these days if he and Clinton were talking for much of that time.

Of course, Gore, who is increasingly acting like a candidate for anger management training, is not the point. More important are those in serious positions of power spending endless government time and money on hearings about covert activities, which only succeed by being covert. This would still be a valid, indeed crucial, enterprise if it could be shown that innocent US citizens were indeed having their privacy rights violated in a substantial manner. Such a person, however, has thus far not been produced. Does he or she exist? Given the present rancorous climate, I am skeptical that we wouldn’t have heard from them already. But I am willing to be convinced. Until then, in the brave new world of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I would prefer the NSA do its work unabated.