After San Bernardino: How political correctness could get us all killed

FBI director declares San Bernardino is now a 'federal terrorism investigation'


The FBI announced Friday that the San Bernardino massacre this week is an act of terrorism. The California attack is now the single deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil or on U.S. citizens -- since September 11, 2001. 

Yet, throughout the week, the president stubbornly refused to acknowledge even the existence violent Islamic extremism.

His willful blindness to the threat has left Americans more anxious about their security, and jihadists more confident about their prospects. The President may dismiss this and say we’re not at war with Islam, but radical Islam is in a global war with us. And it’s a war we’re not winning.

First, there is no way we can defeat radical Islam, be it Al Qaeda, ISIS, Al Shabab or any of the other witches’ brew of violent religious extremism, unless we are willing to call it what it is. 

Political correctness has gotten so absurdly extreme that it’s putting our own people at risk. It’s no longer about safeguarding some from some perceived verbal offense, it's about protecting the nation from deadly attack.

Second, there is no way we can assemble an effective alliance of the nations of Western civilization if we’re not able to explain to them what the threat is and what we -- and they -- must do to defeat it.

Third, our failure to articulate and respond to these increasingly frequent and lethal attacks only emboldens radical Islamist groups.  hey figure that if they can get away with pipe bombs and booby-trapped cars, why not chemical or biological attacks. 

Now that the Middle East seems poised to go nuclear, it’s not a big leap to think terrorists will gain access to nuclear or radiological materials.

The Paris attacks are evidence that there are terrorist sleeper cells are in Europe. 

The San Bernardino attack is evidence the sleeper cells are here in America, too. 

These attacks are not workplace violence, or spontaneous random acts by a few disgruntled, unbalanced people.  They are well-planned, well-financed, and well-armed attacks that rely on larger networks.

The people who recruited, radicalized and guided the terrorists through the steps to carry out the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino are presumably still in place. How many more sleeper cell attacks are in the pipeline?

No one, except for the president, thinks the terror threat is contained or under control.  Most Americans – and Europeans – are worried these attacks will continue in frequency and lethality. They worry that is the new normal.

One of the most troubling things about the Paris and San Bernardino attacks was that we didn’t see them coming.

In previous attacks, like September 11 or Fort Hood, we could look back and see that the "dots" were there all along -- on social media, increased ‘chatter,’ changed behavior patterns.  When we failed to connect those dots, attacks occurred.  When we did connect the dots, attacks were averted – in Britain, in New York, and in Europe.

But this time there were no visible dots. Why? The reaction to the Snowden leaks has taken its toll.

Foreign intelligence agencies are less willing to cooperate with American intelligence because they worry we can’t keep their secrets.

The Snowden leaks also revealed sources and methods –they pulled back the curtain on how we spy on the bad guys.  They’ve learned and adapted.  They’ve moved their recruitment and training to the darkness where we have difficulty seeing them.

The Snowden leaks have affected American public attitudes toward government surveillance. The public backlash means key provisions of the Patriot Act were not renewed.

In the post-Snowden world, connecting the dots has gotten exponentially more difficult.

Finally, we’re coming to realize that these aren’t one-off events, that they are occurring more frequently, in more places, and with greater firepower.

We simply don’t have bandwidth to deal with what is coming at us now and down the road.

It takes two dozen local, state and federal government employees -- law enforcement, counterterrorism, FBI, NSA and the like -- to watch one terrorist suspect 24/7. 

FBI Director Comey says we’re watching about 100 of them how, and maybe 1,000 people who are considered suspicious. 

The San Bernardino killers weren’t even on that list.

On top of that, we’re adding another security burden with the vetting required to process the influx of Muslim refugees into Europe, and eventually the United States.

Tashfeen Malik was ‘vetted’ under our current system. Yet she was a committed enough jihadist to abandon her six-month-old child while she went off to murder the same innocent Americans who gave her a baby shower.

Americans are rattled. It’s the natural human reaction to what seems like increasingly lethal attacks on random civilians by death cult religious fanatics. When the president dismisses our justifiable anxieties and blames them on Republicans and the media, or when he insists on labeling these attacks as workplace violence, we become even more worried.   

Two years ago, the president dismissed ISIS as the JV team. Within weeks, they defeated the Iraqi army and established an Islamic State larger than the size of Great Britain.

President Obama also said that ISIS was contained -- just hours before they launched the Paris attacks.

Even after the San Bernardino killers are linked to ISIS, the president downplays the threat.

We ask ourselves, why doesn’t he see it? Is he blind or oblivious to the threats we face? Why doesn’t he do something?  

So when his only response is to make yet another speech blaming this violence on the Second Amendment, and scolding Republicans for not agreeing with his gun control plans, we get really worried. 

The president’s first responsibility is to do everything possible to keep Americans safe. That starts with admitting we have a problem, coming up with an effective plan, and explaining it to us.

Just waiting for the great arc of history to bend in our direction isn’t reassuring anyone.

There is a gnawing fear that this president isn’t up to the job.

Americans don’t see this as a partisan problem, they see this as an American problem.

The killers in California this week didn’t ask who was a Republican or a Democrat before gunning them down.

Our military, law enforcement, homeland security and intelligence officials also know we’ve got a problem, and what needs to be done, even if the president doesn’t.  

So it’s up to Congress and the rest of the government to give them what they need until we elect a new president who does. We’re only a few steps away from a mass casualty, Paris-style attack in our homeland.

Political correctness started out as something sort of innocuous -- a modern day version of  the old adage 'bite your tongue lest you offend someone.'  But political correctness has gotten so absurdly extreme that it’s putting our own people at risk. It’s no longer about safeguarding some from some perceived verbal offense, it's about protecting the nation from a deadly attack.

Political correctness isn’t just silly, it’s dangerous.