JOURNAL EDITORIAL REPORT

Preventing Terror: The radicalization process

Can homegrown terrorism be stopped?

 

This is a rush transcript from "Journal Edotiral Report," April 27, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report".

New details emerge about the Boston bombing suspects, including possible plans to hit New York's Time Square. We'll look at how we can keep out cities safe from the threat of homegrown terror.

Plus, at least two federal agencies failed to heed warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Have our anti-terror defenses failed in the years since 9/11?

And the unraveling of Obamacare continues. A chief architect calls it a train wreck, and announces his retirement amid reports that his Congressional colleagues may be looking to exempt themselves.

Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report". I'm Paul Gigot.

As we continue to learn more about the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, including their plans to attack New York City's Times Square, a clearer picture is emerging of the older brother and apparent ringleader, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as a young man who had become increasingly radicalized while living in the U.S., something my guest warned years ago was the new face of terrorism in America.

Mitchell Silber is the former director of intelligence analysis for the New York City Police Department where he oversaw all terror investigations. He's the author of the 2007 NYPD report, "Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat."

Mr. Silber, welcome to the program.

MITCHELL SILBER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: Thank you.

GIGOT: So the U.S. officials are now describing Tamerlan Tsarnaev as having undergone a self-radicalization. What does that mean to you?

SILBER: I think when they refer to self-radicalization, they mean he wasn't radicalized by some outside group. There wasn't some type of ideologue who was physically in Boston leading him along. It's an interesting concept because what we have seen is that no longer do you need to have a person in place or a group to radicalize somebody, but rather it can all be through the Internet and what we called at NYPD a virtual internet sanctuary.

GIGOT: Your report mentions that many of these people that this happens to are unremarkable. They're leading unremarkable, normal lives.

You wouldn't think of them as potential terrorists. Yet, something happens. There's a process they go through. What happens along that process?

SILBER: Well, at some point, they decide to reevaluate their life and their world view and they may be having some personal crisis, maybe a death in the family, something that makes them reassess which direction they're going. They may not have a strong identity of who they are. Are they Chechen or are they American? Are they Chechen-America? And they investigate what did their heritage means, whether it's their ethnic heritage, religious heritage. And as they go down that road, they begin to learn more about Islam. And unfortunately, in the cases that end up turning to violent extremism, they adopt an extremist interpretation of the religion.

GIGOT: Do they need somebody, a mentor somewhere, or is there somebody they might deal with on the internet? Because we have seen cases where this has happened, for example, they were dealing with Anwar al-Awlaki, the former -- the now dead imam who was working out of Yemen.

SILBER: Absolutely. And that's the concept of having an ideologue who is online, who may not be their physically with you. We saw that very much in the Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber from 2010.

GIGOT: Right.

SILBER: And we're still learning more about the Tsarnaev brothers. I wouldn't be surprised if, at some point, when the FBI is done looking at their their computers, they find links to Anwar al-Awlaki web sites. But we do know from his YouTube page where he was following another extremist imam, a fellow named Faiz Mohammed, someone who is in favor of violence against non-believers, and has said that openly on his website, an Australian cleric who is out of Lebanon, but he speaks in English. I think that's the important part.

GIGOT: Well, these people are, it sounds, very hard to detect, in part, because they are operating by themselves, because they evolve over time. So what do you do at the NYPD to try to make sure you can detect these people before they actually become violent?

SILBER: You're right, Paul. The signals are very faint to detect radicalization. It's not something that happens in a loud way. So essentially, NYPD tried to be creative and create tripwires in a variety of different places, travel overseas for a significant period of time.

GIGOT: That was one of those things --

(LAUGHTER)

SILBER: Absolutely. You went to a zone of conflict, that was something that required some further scrutiny, maybe send an officer to come and check in and find out what that trip was about. We wanted to better understand the neighborhoods, the human geography of New York City to try and figure out, are there certain incubators where radicalization is likely to happen. In the Madrid bombing case of 2004, the guy is radicalized in a barber shop. In the London, 7-7 bombers case, they radicalized in a book store. So public places that the NYPD could go to, and most importantly online.

GIGOT: But here's the thing that puzzles me about this case. You had a couple of those tripwires here, an overseas trip, you had an alert by the Russians. And then, once he returned from overseas, we know he had postings that sympathized with jihad. Why would those tripwires not have been discovered here in this case?

SILBER: It's the question that I'm asking myself. It's the question we dealt with every day at the NYPD. I think what we didn't have was a connection of the trip overseas, the lead by the Russians, and then when Tsarnaev returned, when the older brother returned, how come someone wasn't monitoring his social media to see the change. Because change is really the indicator that someone is moving in a new direction. And if you had seen those postings on his YouTube page, you would see that he had gone in a different direction since his return.

GIGOT: So do you think he should have been under some kind of wiretap or, even short of that, maybe surveillance by a cyber unit within the Boston P.D. or the FBI?

SILBER: Yes. I think, for his Youtube pages, I looked at a couple of days ago, it was not something that was locked. And it was open for anyone to look at. So frankly, if it's an open web site, anyone could have looked at it. That seems to be one of those basic steps that should have been done, is monitoring of the cyber.

It's interesting that monitoring cyber on the counterterrorism side has also made this transition on the corporate side day-to-day. We're seeing corporate clients also want to go monitor social media to detect different types of threats.

GIGOT: Not terrorist?

SILBER: Not terrorists.

GIGOT: Right.

SILBER: Hostile takeovers maybe, proxy fights.

GIGOT: OK. There has been some controversy with what the NYPD did, the survey on some criticism on the Associated Press and others saying, you're intruding on ethnic communities or Muslim communities for their faith. How do you respond to that kind of criticism?

SILBER: I think it was really unfortunate because the A.P.'s articles were very misinformed. They actually took different programs and conflated them and made them seem sinister.

All of the programs that NYPD was involved in fit into a rigid legal structure called the Handchew Agreement. It was almost mirror image of the federal guideline that the FBI has to deal with as well, the attorney general guidelines. So in order to use an informant or an undercover, one had to meet a certain legal predicate. And if you didn't meet that legal predicate, you couldn't open the investigation. If you had you had an ongoing investigation and you no longer were meeting that legal predicate, it was my job to advise at the highest levels you've got to shut that investigation down. So there was oversight internally on this process.

GIGOT: And there has been no change in the New York P.D. behavior in the wake of any criticism from the courts.

Thank you, Mr. Silber.

SILBER: No, not at all. Thank you.

GIGOT: Thanks for being here.

When we come back, questioning the surviving bombing suspect gets cut short, possibly sacrificing valuable intelligence, and the FBI and CIA both failed to heed warnings about his older brother in the run up to the Boston attack. Has the U.S. government let its guard down in the years since 9- 11?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R-MAINE): That is troubling to me that these

many years after the attacks on our country in 2001 that we still seem to have stovepipes that prevent information from being shared effectively.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIGOT: Senate Intelligence Committee member, Susan Collins, getting at the question on many people's minds in the wake of last week's Boston bombings, did the feds drop the ball.

We now know that Russian officials contacted the U.S. government at least twice about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, warning both the FBI and the CIA in 2011 about his possible radicalization. We also learned this week that the younger brother Dzhokhar's questioning by the FBI was cut short when a federal judge read him his Miranda rights, possibly sacrificing valuable intelligence.

For more, I'm joined by "Wall Street Journal" columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; and editorial board member, Matt Kaminski.

Matt, let's stipulate that anti-terrorism is very hard to stop and prevent.

MATT KAMINSKI, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Right. I'd say it's 20/20.

GIGOT: Hindsight, it's 20/20. And this is a big attack since 9/11.

All credit due to our anti-terror brigades for that. But what stands out to you so far about this event?

KAMINSKI: Two things. One, that the FBI and the CIA had him on their radar screens. They had him in 2011. In March, the FBI went to see him, question him, went through a truck of information. When he went to Russia, confirming the tip from the Russians that he had been radicalized for six months, the FBI and CIA didn't know he'd left, apparently, although the Department of Homeland Security did know, and didn't know that he came back six months later. Although someone now, it turns out, at the Boston airport did know through Custom Service.

GIGOT: So there was no --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: We're supposed to have no stereotyping. That was supposed to be one of big lessons of 9/11, you share information so everybody knows who these people are. Is this how a bureaucracy behaves?

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: It is how --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: They lose track?

HENNINGER: It is how -- they are bureaucracies. They are big complicated places. He was on one list. I think there were three or four such lists that the separate bureaucracies -- one listed has 700,000 names on it. How can there be 700,000 names on list like this? That is a sizable, good sized American city. It's pretty clear at this point that these bureaucracies have slipped back into habits before 9/11. The question is, why is this happening?

GIGOT: Should he have been, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, on some type of kind of surveillance list, maybe a FISA warrant, some kind of wiretap warrant or at least under surveillance a cyber unit that said if he posted jihadist videos, as Mitchell Silber said before, we would have been watching it.

KAMINSKI: The real thing here, the FBI says because we checked him out in 2011 and he was clean then, we really didn't have any right to go back and see him.

GIGOT: What does that mean? They certainly have every right to do it.

KAMINSKI: I think so too, but --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: They went to a court for us to get a warrant.

KAMINSKI: Because he has spent all his time in Russia. If they had known it, they would have to go back and monitored his online traffic.

But I think the other thing that is amazing to this case, after the bombs went off, they weren't on a list for the FBI to check out. Somehow the FBI in Boston did not identify from the photos they have and that would have prevented the killing of the MIT officer.

GIGOT: Had they not committed that crime, they could have been in a

car and long gone from the city or gone on a flight.

HENNINGER: Paul, let me propose something. We have been asking these questions for days. The Senate has been asking these questions. We do not have answers. These bureaucracies themselves are not going to supply the answers. I think we probably do need a second 9/11 Commission to look at this particular issue and see whether we have to reboot these bureaucracies. Absent a commission that really asks everybody what was going on, you will never get to the bottom of this. We really need to get these answers. The question is, how do we do that? I think that is the way to do that.

GIGOT: Congress is only way I think to get at it.

What about the Miranda warning issue, Matt? The judge marched in and, the FBI claims, stopped what had been an investigation without a lawyer.

That is when he stopped cooperating, reportedly.

KAMINSKI: They were in the room apparently, and she walked in on Monday after only 18 hours of interrogation.

GIGOT: The Miranda warnings relates to what would be admissible in court. There is plenty of evidence already likely to convict this fellow when he does get into court. But that is not the point of interrogation.

We want intelligence to prevent future attacks and to make sure we can break up any current terror networks.

KAMINSKI: They invoked the public safety exception to the Miranda to find out if there were any bombings imminent. But the more important point, he should have been treated as a potential enemy combatant, someone who carried out a terrorist attack in Boston. We want to know, not only what they were planning to do, but who his brother or he were in touch with, how was he radicalized, was anyone overseas helping them or giving them any know how.

GIGOT: And that combatant designation could be withdrawn later one we think we've got all we think we can get from him, then sent to civilian court.

When we come back, as its roll out continues, is Obamacare unraveling? One of the chief architects seems to think so. He is predicting a train wreck, and getting off before the crash. Can you get off, too?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT: Well, who could blame them? A "Politico" web site reporter that congressional leaders from both parties have been in secret negotiations to exempt themselves and their aides from Obamacare exchanges. Harry Reid flatly made this comment as one of the chief architects announces his retirement, but not before issuing this warning to HHS secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, about the healthcare law's roll out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: I see a huge train wreck coming down. You and I discussed this many times. I don't see any results yet. What can you do to help all these people around the country, worrying, what in the world do I do? I don't know what to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIGOT: "Wall Street Journal" assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and editorial board member, Joe Rago, join us with more.

James, say it ain't so. Exempting themselves from Obamacare? Is this really something we want?

JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Yes. You have to remind yourself, that clip from Marcus, that was one of guys that liked it when it passed.

GIGOT: He helped write the bill.

REEMAN: Yes. Basically, this has been an effort for years, ever since they were working on the bill, wanting to make sure this wonderful experiment they are about to impose on American people doesn't hit members of Congress and their staff. Negotiations may be a strong word. I'm told that Democrats Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer reached out to Republicans. In the Democrats' view, all they are doing is clarifying that as part of Obamacare, they are also going to keep the great benefits they already have.

GIGOT: The subsidies that flow now through the Federal Employee Benefit Program, Joe, which is very nice, a great program, would continue under the exchanges, because the healthcare exchanges are supposed to keep all the healthcare you -- if you got it, you can keep it. Remember that.

Now people are saying the insurance and the exchanges will be Medicaid plus, which sounds a lot less inviting?

JOE RAGO, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Right. That is what the insurers are privately calling it, very high cost, not the benefits that members of Congress have gotten used to over the years.

This idea this is just a technical glitch, we're just making a fix here, I mean, the entire bill is one long technical glitch.

GIGOT: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

RAGO: The idea that they are going to force this on the public without taking responsibility for the consequences, I think, is going to harm this even more.

GIGOT: I don't understand, Dan, why John Boehner would consider this.

I remember 1994 when the Republicans took the House under Gingrich, this was one of their main claims to serve. We're going to apply the laws we apply to everybody else to Congress. That was popular. This seems to be beyond belief.

HENNINGER: They are going to drive that approval rating down to zero.

It's almost there. It can't get much lower.

(LAUGHTER)

But there is a political point here, Paul. I'm going to draw a line under something James said. Barack Obama and the entire left wing healthcare community have for 50 years want to do this. They said this was going to be the best social program in decades. Now, people are literally trying to flee from it, from the Congress to unions out there in the country and to big corporations. Nobody wants to go into Obamacare. Now, the problem is this is going to start creating political erosion for the president. He just lost this gun control vote in the Senate. This is bad news for him. He is only three months into his second term.

GIGOT: Is this idea dead, Congress is going to give it up now, it's been exposed?

FREEMAN: I think it's dead as long as Republicans hold the House.

There is a long history here. Democrats have been trying to get out from under Obama-care since 2009 when it was being created. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Senator, kept pushing to get this part of the bill in there that you've got to eat the dog food too, Congress if you're going to impose this on everyone. They fought it on that every turn. I would think this is going to continue unless Republicans continue to hold out.

GIGOT: Joe, we don't have that much time. But the broader contours of Obamacare rolling out, supposed to start in October. That is not going too well either?

RAGO: No, it's not. HSS run out of money for implementation. They have moved into this -- another Affordable Care Act slush fund to fund the exchange implementation. You are seeing rates are starting to be filed.

They're much higher, 20, 30 percent for younger consumers.

GIGOT: Wow.

RAGO: Even 100, 200 percent.

(CROSSTALK)

RAGO: In Maryland, with price controls are in effect already, you are not seeing the smooth, well-oiled machine the president promised when he was selling this law.

GIGOT: I think Dan's right. It could be a political liability for the president if people begin to see the promises haven't been kept.

We have to take one more break. When we come back, "Hits and Misses"

of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT: Time now for "Hits and Misses" of the week.

Dan, first to you.

HENNINGER: Well, the George W. Bush Library opened in Dallas. That's the hit. On the other hand, they are going to archive this Bush presidency's 200 million emails. This is going to take a little time because they can only do 800 thousand pages a year. Some poor young college grad is going to have to read through all this drivel. That's his lifetime job. I think maybe it's time to go back to writing on stone tablets.

GIGOT: Wait until he historians have to sort through 200 million e- mails.

All right, Joe?

RAGO: We're turning off the sequester this week for air traffic control. And while I'm glad our flights won't be deliberately delayed, I think this does send an unfortunate message, which is, do a bad job, government. If you deliberately sabotage your own operations, we'll give into your demands. While the White House's political strategy backfired, it would have been better to abolish the FAA and privatize air traffic control.

GIGOT: Just like Canada.

OK --

(CROSSTALK)

FREEMAN: That's good.

Paul, we had on Friday another disappointing economic report. What's new in the year of Obamanomics? Well below expectations, 2 percent growth.

But I would like to give a hit to American workers, American businesses who are continuing to do pretty well in a very tough environment with a lot of bad policies imposed. President Obama started out the quarter with a tax increase, ended up spending the rest of it warning people about the sequester and the end of the world. So all things considered, credit to American businesses for hanging in there.

GIGOT: And is going to keep going or are we going to see another slowdown?

FREEMAN: It looks like a lot of years we've had recently. It starts out promising, and I'm not betting on the rest of the year being that good.

GIGOT: All right.

And remember, if you have your own "Hit or Miss," please send it to us at jer@FOXnews.com. And be sure to follow us on Twitter at JER on FNC.

That's it for this week's show. Thanks to my panel and especially to you for watching. I'm Paul Gigot. Hope to see you right here next week.

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