Imagine this: FBI agents get an anonymous tip that a red van with biological weapons has just dumped anthrax in the Central Park reservoir. They'd like to search all the red vans in the area, but by law they can't. Once a crime has occurred, an anonymous tip can't create reasonable suspicion for an investigative search, according to the Supreme Court.Now imagine this: You illegally download a copyrighted MP3 file, violating your terms of service contract with America Online.
Northwest Washington, D.C. The landing is dark, and the door to the office--ostensibly a travel agency--is unmarked, save for a sticker proclaiming, "I Pakistan." Outside on the street, small clusters of men lounge against cars and in doorways, calling out to passersby. Inside, one rickety flight of steps up from Trina's Hair Gallery, the air is silent and stale. I obey a tiny sign, faintly visible in the gloom, instructing visitors to "ring bell." Then I wait--10, 20, 40 seconds--until a pair of gold-rimmed glasses appears in a small, arched window above the door. I wave and smile.
When President Bush declared war on terrorism just after September 11, he promised something very important: America would not merely punish the terrorists; it would punish the states that sponsor them. And so when Bush stood before Congress two weeks ago, he issued an explicit ultimatum to the Taliban, the medieval fanatics who harbor Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorist network. "The Taliban must act, and act immediately," Bush vowed in his speech.
Back in the peaceful days of late summer, Democrats were finally getting around to something they'd neglected since Bill Clinton left office: foreign policy. In August, Tom Daschle and Richard Gephardt each delivered addresses criticizing the Bush administration for its aversion to multilateralism and its obsession with missile defense. A few weeks later, Senator Joe Biden did the same at the National Press Club. Previewing Biden's speech that morning, the Los Angeles Times explained that congressional Democrats had begun a prolonged "assault on the Bush administration's defense and foreign po
Is it a little laughter that we need now? Then behold the contrition of yesterday's frivolous, the new fashion in gravity. The man who edits Vanity Fair has ruled that the age of cynicism is over. He would know. I always wondered what it would take to put a cramp in the trashy mind, and at last I have my answer: a mass grave in lower Manhattan. So now depth has buzz. The papers are filled with hip people seeing through hipness, composing elegiac farewells to the days of Gary Condit and Jennifer Lopez. The on dit has moved beyond the apple martini.
Though we still lack many details of the September 11 attacks, it's a good guess that oil money was involved. Osama bin Laden's inherited wealth comes from a Saudi construction family that made its fortune in the Arabian oil boom. He is also believed to receive donations from Saudis who grew rich from petroleum leases. If Saddam Hussein assisted in the attack, then oil money may have flowed to the butchers through Iraq, too. And if the terrorists got money from Saudi Arabia and Iraq, then Saudi Arabia and Iraq got money from us--because Americans bought their oil.
Two weeks after George W. Bush's declaration of war against terrorism, a battle plan is taking shape. We are putting the screws to Pakistan to end its history of mentoring terrorists. We will now treat Afghanistan like the rogue state that it is. The Treasury Department will try to choke off Osama bin Laden's financing. Intelligence agencies, at long last, will share information with one another. And if the Bush administration has its way, the CIA will revert to its pre-1995 guidelines, which allowed operatives to recruit informants with sketchy human rights records. All sensible moves.
Among the popular explanations for September 11's cunning, devastating attacks on the United States is American support for Israel. The argument runs like this: If the United States had not aided and abetted the Muslim world's primary enemy, we would not have become Islam's enemy ourselves, and therefore would not have been a target for reprisals. That argument, however, is a dodge.
What do Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Susan Sontag have in common? All acknowledge a truth that most Americans would rather not: that what took place last week was, as Sontag put it, "[not an] attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions." That those actions should be a source of pride and not a cause for selfflagellation is beside the point. Terrorist grievances aren't with America. They're with America's global power.
Coming home last Friday night, I stumbled upon a candlelight vigil. Hundreds of my Dupont Circle neighbors were walking gravely down Q Street, holding signs and dispensing leaflets. As I stopped to watch, a man pulled up on his bicycle, surveyed the scene, and began to scream. "Why don't you just commit suicide?" he yelled at the marchers. A policeman rushed over and tried to quiet him down: "None of that," he said, "this is a vigil. No politics." "My brother died in New York," the man answered, "and these fuckers..." And then he sped off. But the policeman was wrong.