Common Sense

Learning From Loss

Sometimes you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Now the Bush administration, which was blasted for not responding enough to terror threats pre-September 11, is getting blasted for maybe responding too much post-September 11.

At issue, the case of American Jose Padilla, accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb." Civil liberties groups are saying he's being treated unfairly. He's locked up, holed up, as he tries to figure what's up.


I don't know this guy's guilt or innocence, but I do know the times we live in. They're very different, very dangerous now. Sometimes not very politically correct now. And desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.

We now know we had a chance to apprehend one of the hijackers who crashed that plane into the Pentagon. But we didn't.

We now know we had a chance to interrogate at least two of the eight men who crashed those planes into the World Trade Center. But we didn't.

Back then we probably would have had nothing better to go on than a hunch. But look what we could have prevented.

Hind sight it's so blessedly 20-20.

But now, it's almost as if some of these politically correct types forget September 11 happened. They're right. Holding people for weeks, even months in a prison cell on little more than a suspicion and a string of curious meetings is tough. But tougher still is what happens when suspicious characters get away.

Life is not what it was, my friends. Those of us who fly, know that. Arab-Americans who are stopped and searched and sometimes asked to get off planes know that.

No, none of this is fun. And some of it is unfair.

But you know what's really unfair?

Dying, by the thousands, in the World Trade Center. Telling a child his father isn't coming home. Telling a new wife that her husband is gone. Telling proud parents that their only girl is no more. That's a little more than inconvenient. Forgive them if they can't focus on civil liberties or innocent until proven guilty. They lost something a little more dear and a lot more meaningful.

Now we owe it to them to make sure that we've learned from them.

And from their loss.

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