If You See Something, Say Something

Published on May 5th, 2011

The phrase that serves as the title for my commentary today is plastered all over New York City and has been for years as a way of engaging the residents of the City of New York to encourage them to report any suspicious activities and/or persons to the appropriate authorities.  In some communities this is also referred to as a “Neighborhood Watch Program.” I can tell you that as a law enforcement officer I often spoke with neighbors of those I investigated.  I also made it a point to speak with the letter carriers who regularly serviced the communities in which my colleagues and I conducted investigations because we knew that these folks were extremely familiar with those who lived in those neighborhoods and what came to be thought of as being “normal” as compared with that which was considered “suspicious.” However, the death of Bin Laden does not mean that the “All Clear” has sounded, but we will get to that shortly. Certainly our gallant commandos have every right to be as proud of their achievement as We the People are of them and their gallantry that resulted in the realization of this decade old objective.  President Obama made the right call at the right time and deserves praise for his decision to pull the trigger on this incredible operation.  Not only was the timing for the raid spot on, it was also, as it turned out, important that commandos brought about the death of the world’s most wanted villain and not a Stealth Bomber.  Many reporters and pundits have talked about the use of commandos to make certain that Bin Laden was conclusively identified as the person who was killed during the conduct of the operation, but it is at least as important that computers and various hard drives and other data storage devices were retrieved intact to provide incalculable intelligence concerning al-Qaeda operatives, methods and possibly terrorist plans.  Had a bomb been dropped on Bin Laden’s compound it is likely that this precious data would have been obliterated.  It must be presumed that the data being analyzed will provide our intelligence services with a veritable treasure trove of critically important actionable information to help protect our nation and our citizens as well as our allies around the world.  It may be impossible to determine, in real world terms, which did more harm to al-Qaeda and its horrific plans, the death of Bin Laden or the fact that our intelligence officials now how so much of their vital data.  In any event, especially in this case, knowledge certainly is power and al-Qaeda’s loss is most definitely our gain. I am compelled to make an observation, however.  I have heard journalists and commentators describe President Obama’s decision to undertake the mission as being courageous.  Certainly the President’s political future may have been placed at risk, but please do not forget that the real bravery was demonstrated by our selfless commandos whose flesh and blood hung in the balance as they went in harm’s way on our behalf, this past Sunday.  These “Operators,” as they refer to themselves are worthy of the hospitality and parades across our nation, but I suspect that because of the sensitive nature of their work, they would refuse the spotlight.  They say that they “Own the night!”  They prefer to strike and night and then disappear into the darkness after their missions are accomplished.  While we may never hear all of the names of those to whom we owe so much, they should all know how much we admire and appreciate them and their incredible demonstration of gallantry and patriotism. But now we are being warned that we must be especially vigilant because it must be presumed that al-Qaeda and those who sympathize with al-Qaeda are likely to seek to avenge his death.  This is certainly excellent advice, but my question is: what does being vigilant mean? I am compelled to ask, “Is our government really being vigilant when hundreds of cities from coast to coast have become infested by members of the Mexican cartels and other violent transnational gangs while the Secretary of Homeland Security warns of the dangers posed by the gangs and then assures us that our borders are more secure than they have been in years?” Is our government really being vigilant when tens of millions of unknown illegal aliens from virtually every country on the planet live and work in communities throughout our nation? And some of them are citizens of so-called “Special Interest Countries,” countries that are directly associated with terrorism? Is our government being vigilant when the President and other key members of Congress, in both houses and from both political parties openly speak about the need to provide illegal aliens with a “Pathway to United States citizenship” when they must know that these illegal aliens’ true identities are unknown and unknowable. Meaning that it is impossible to determine with certainty their true nationalities, their possible criminal backgrounds or potential affiliation with terrorist organizations or their intentions that brought them, in violation of our borders and our laws to our country? Is our government being vigilant when it certainly appears that under the auspices of aBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) undercover operation code-named appropriately enough, “Operation Gun Runner” that many hundreds of firearms were permitted to walk out of gun shops in the United States and into the hands of the Mexican cartels who may well have used at least a few of these guns to kill Brian Terry, a United States Border Patrol agent and may also have been used to kill ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata and seriously wound his partner in Mexico. When Janet Napolitano attempted to take the credit for the failure of a terrorist I branded “Captain Underpants” on Christmas Day, 2009, to destroy an airliner preparing to land in Detroit by detonating an explosive in his underwear I wrote a commentary in which I said, “If hope is not a strategy, then dumb luck is not a success!” That statement should be emblazoned on the walls of the offices of those in Washington who are responsible for the security of our nation and the lives of our citizens!

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