Why won’t Washington pay attention? - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Why won’t Washington pay attention?

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Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2007 12:32 am | Updated: 6:22 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

It was one of those kinds of stories that made me ask, “Is anybody paying attention?” and, “Does anybody besides me really care?”

Perhaps you heard something about it, but there’s a good chance you didn’t. Last Sunday, the Washington Times reported that, six months ago, federal authorities became concerned that Islamic terrorists could be planning an attack on American soil, this time in Arizona. The target of the attack was believed to be the Fort Huachuca Army Base, and the intelligence gathered about this was sufficiently credible such that it forced authorities at the base to change security procedures and policies.

Is this information a bit disconcerting for you? It certainly was for me. But wait — there’s more to know …

Authorities among the ranks of the FBI, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency and “numerous other law enforcement agencies throughout the nation” believed at the time that as many as 60 Afghan and Iraqi terrorists either had been or were currently being smuggled in to the U.S. along with so-called high-powered weapons, and were being helped by Mexican drug cartels. The Afghanis and Iraqis were alleged to have shaved their beards, so as to not appear “Middle-Eastern,” and it was suspected that each would-be terrorist paid Mexican drug lords $20,000 cash, or its equivalent in weaponry, in exchange for the assistance in getting into the U.S.

Why Arizona, and why Fort Huachuca? Well, for starters, Fort Huachuca is home to the nation’s largest intelligence training center, and members of all four branches of our nation’s military live and work there. It’s not difficult to imagine how an attack on this facility would be incredibly demoralizing, and embarrassing, and possibly very compromising to our entire nation.

But not only is Fort Huachuca a prime target for terrorists, it also is located very close to what can best be described as one of the terrorists’ greatest assets: the porous, hemorrhaging U.S.-Mexico border.

You know the place. It’s the same border that American citizens in the Southwestern U.S. have been fretting about for at least a decade. It’s the same border at which stateside residents have had their property ravaged for years. It’s the same border to which The Minutemen movement drew the world’s attention back in 2005 and 2006. And it’s the same border that the president and the U.S. Congress continued to ignore earlier this year, when they chose instead to lecture the American people about “comprehensive immigration reform” and “pathways to citizenship,” “touchback provisions” and “worker visas.”

These are some of the more obvious things to know about the U.S.-Mexico border.

Unfortunately, there are lots of other harsh realities that seem to go unnoticed by people outside the border states, in much the same way as the Fort Huachuca story has gone unnoticed.

You’ll recall the news earlier this summer of arson fires being set in parts of Arizona’s national forest land, with the intent of “smoking out” U.S. Border Patrol agents and driving them from their posts. And let’s not forget the stories about the “fire bombs,” the boulders draped in gasoline-soaked rags, set ablaze, and lobbed in giant slingshots at Border Patrol vehicles.

Have no doubt: this kind of activity is terrorism, and news of this terrorist activity has become commonplace in Arizona.

In an age when our nation’s foreign policy has been defined by the president’s “hunt ’em down and bring ’em to justice” attitude toward terrorists, it’s astonishing to realize that so many in Washington apparently remain ambivalent to the terrorism and injustice on our own soil. And this is what makes the news about the suspected terrorist plot on Fort Huachuca so unnerving.

It doesn’t seem to matter that the whereabouts of the suspected Iraqi and Afghani terrorists are unknown (although some of them are suspected to be residing in “safe houses” in Texas). And it doesn’t seem to matter that these terrorists’ suspected cache of weapons included anti-tank missiles, surface-to-air missiles and grenade launchers. Taking a clear and decisive stance on immigration policy can still be costly if you‘re running for political office, and in an election year it’s safer to publicly ignore news of this sort.

I hope the news headlines about domestic terrorists and their weapons don’t have to get much worse in order for American politicians to acknowledge the obvious.

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