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You're Losing, Mr. Ashcroft
June 11, 2002
By Jeff Crook

In what has to be the most bone-headed idea to come down the pike in a long time, John Ashcroft has announced plans to fingerprint and register visitors to the US who come from so-called terrorist nations, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Apparently, he consulted with Ann Coulter before making this announcement.

"Under rules adopted in 1998, only visitors from Iraq, Iran, Libya and Sudan had to go through the process that includes registering with federal authorities, photographing and fingerprinting." (source)

So, this big announcement is that we are adding Syria to the list? Or is the point simply to make it look like the government is doing something, a meaningless gesture meant to appease those red-staters who point furiously at the Middle East and say "It's the rag-heads who are the terrorists!"

Funny, I don't see Saudi Arabia on that list. 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, all here on legal visas. So this measure would not stop or even detect 15 more Saudi hijackers arriving legally in the country. As a matter of fact, according to the previous statement, all 19 hijackers entered the country under the very rules that Ashcroft says will help protect us.

And let's not forget that War Emblem, who ran for the Triple Crown this weekend, is owned by a man from Saudi Arabia. I wonder if War Emblem is a terrorist? I mean, he did try to bite Katie Couric on the Today Show.

Zacarais Moussoui was French-Algerian. This measure didn't stop or detect him. Remember that guy caught several days after 9/11 trying to get on a plane with a backpack full of knives? He was Malaysian; this measure didn't stop or detect him. The mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing was Egyptian... again, no good there.

The guy caught at the Canadian border, who they say was planning to bomb Los Angeles Airport during the millenium celebrations? He was Algerian, wasn't he? The shoebomber? Oops, he was, what? English/Jamaican? And Ramsey Yousef? Nobody really knows where he is from, or even if that is his real name.

Timothy McVeigh was American. Hell, he was even in the military. The missionairy killed last week was held by Filipino terrorists. Again, this measure wouldn't stop or detect them.

But let's just say some terrorists from Sudan, Syria, Lybia, Iran or Iraq decided to try something here. You think they are going to hop aboard Air Iraq and fly into Miami International? No, they'll probably get themselves some ID from a country not on the watch list, then waltz right through customs. Welcome to America, Mr. Smith. Enjoy your stay.

So all this measure will do is harrass peaceful people trying to enter the country for legitimate means. Funny, for a man who buys so heavily into the NRA argument that gun laws only punish legal gun owners, Ashcroft sure doesn't seem to apply the same logic to immigration policy.

The terrorists are beating you, Mr. Ashcroft. How much money, how many resources will you expend in a fruitless search that the terrorists can easily avoid because they forced you into this reaction? Read the Art of War, Mr. Ashcroft. It will tell you that your opponent has chosen the ground, the time of his attack, he knows you, he knows himself, and you know nothing about him. That's called losing the war.

So I'll say it again. I'll say it until I am red, white and blue in the face.

The only effective means to battle terrorism is to eliminate the causes of terrorism - fear, greed, hopelessness, injustice, hunger. This isn't giving in to terrorists. It is called "doing the right thing." If doing the right thing is the same as giving in to terrorists, what the hell does that tell you about terrorism?

Will people blow themselves up if they have other choices? Choices like a justice system they can trust, equal rights under the law, food for their children, a roof over their heads, and something to look forward to?

Jeff Crook is the author of three fantasy novels, including Conundrum, published December 2001. His new novel, The Dark Thane, is scheduled for publication in April 2003.

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