If you believe the authorities — and I don’t always believe their hype about this sort of thing — there have been four home-grown terrorist plots in the last year that have been disrupted:
- A year ago, seven men were arrested in what officials called the early stages of a plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and destroy FBI offices and other buildings.
- A month later, authorities broke up a plot to bomb underwater New York City train tunnels to flood lower Manhattan.
- Six people were arrested a month ago in an alleged plot to unleash a bloody rampage on Fort Dix in New Jersey.
- Three men were arrested last week for an alleged plot to blow up a fuel pipeline serving JFK Airport and running through residential neighborhoods in Queens, New York.
Now, without casting any doubt on the truthfulness of these allegations, plots, or the authorities involved in announcing them, I have one quick question: how many of these plots were uncovered because of the curtailing of civil liberties? How many of these cases were cracked because of unconstitutional wiretapping or other dubious means; and how many of them came to light because of good, old-fashioned detective work using the same tried-and-true contitutional methods as always?
I have a gut feeling that the answer to the first is zero and that it was our regular, everyday justice system that managed to catch them, without curtailing anyone’s civil liberties. It will certainly be interesting to learn the details of this, won’t it?