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By Tom Adkins

June 18, 2002

Now that 3,000 lives have been lost in a massive terrorist attack on our own shores, Americans are happily willing to sacrifice a few freedoms for security. Racial profiling, a little snooping, maybe a few uncomfortable searches here and there. Those Middle Eastern men between 17 and 40 will just have to accept a few intrusions for the sake of national security. OK, fair enough.

But something interesting happened this week. The CIA arrested Abdullah al Muhajir for plotting to detonate a nuclear "dirty bomb" in Washington, DC. But Muhajir isn't a Middle Eastern Muslim terrorist. He is an American Muslim terrorist. His real name, the one mamma gave him long before his jail cell conversion to Islam, is Jose Padilla. Mexican bloodlines, actually. But born and raised in America. That leads to an intriguing question: What do we do if the next terrorist is named "Billy"? When some suburban misfit is busted at the local mall with a van full of fertilizer and a pocket full of plans in Arabic, what sort of profiling do we use then?

We better think about that because it's happened before. In the 60s, a slew of leftist troublemakers justified bombings, hijackings, shootings, lootings and murders that terrorized America in the name of socialist nirvana. And every one of these liberal groups were funded, staffed, influenced, sponsored or provoked by the Soviet Union. The demise of the radical American left mysteriously coincided with the defeat of the Soviet Union.

That old USSR vs. USA battle featured borders, armies and diplomacy. This new terrorist threat is different. Al Qaeda has no borders, no real army, and you certainly can't sit down and discuss peace with Osama bin Laden. But there is a common thread. Al Qaeda justifies anything in the name of a 14th century dream of quasi-religious despotism. Radical American liberals justify anything in the name of their self-aggrandizing elitist despotism. From Berkeley to Bagram, these twin pinnacles of relative morality make ideal teammates. The cooperation is inevitable.

While radical leftist groups are the usual suspects, America actually features a motley collection of left-wing America haters, right-wing government haters, recreational anarchists, and anti-corporate geeks, all seething to carry the terrorist banner and ready for grand-scale violence. All it takes is money. And Al Qaeda has that. Why not help their bottle-tossing friends-in-arms with a few real bombs?

Al Qaeda is in perfect position to sponsor American domestic terrorism. And they will. This courtship is happening just as the FBI switches gears from domestic crime to international terrorism. As we crack down on foreign bad guys, the next terrorist front will develop from within, not without.

So how do we stop this terrorist menagerie? First, let's acknowledge that George Bush's unification of the 100+ scattered security and defense agencies is a desperately necessary first step. Colleen Rowley's testimony showed a bloated, paralyzed bureaucracy and stifled agents, who helplessly watched as their suspects turned into mass murderers on national TV. Led by luminaries such as Frank Church and Chris Dodd, every American security apparatus was gutted, starved and emasculated over 40 years, enticing enemies to take a crack at us. Which they did. Our security agencies must be restaffed, refunded and unleashed, returning to the stealth and power that once defined our dedication to freedom.

Yet we must also make sure international terrorism is watched with one eye and domestic threats with the other. They must be attacked with equal vigor. But tackling domestic terrorism is much more difficult. Foreign terrorists have few rights. But Americans do. Civil libertarians will shriek at any opportunity real or imagined, as demonstrated with our Guantanamo Bay tourists. And constitutional conservatives will be equally vigilant. As long as we understand the right to protest ends where the right to live freely begins, the trick is to make the distinction between impassioned dissent and dangerous activism.

Nobody has the right to fly planes into office buildings or bomb our embassies and ships. They don't even have the right to interrupt a coffee break. And if anyone appears to be trying, we have the right and responsibility to preserve our nation and our freedoms by investigating, and if necessary hunt them down and crush them before they act. This right knows no borders. But without an equal emphasis on the domestic side of national security, Americans are guaranteeing a painful and embarrassing domestic incident from a guy whose picture can be found on page 23 of someone's high school yearbook.

© Tom Adkins - All Rights Reserved

Tom Adkins is the executive publisher of  He is a frequent contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Insight Magazine, The Hill, and numerous national papers, including the Washington Times. Tom is a frequent guest on Fox News, including Beyond the News, John Gibsonís weekend show, and Fox Live. Heís appeared on Politically Incorrect, Talkback Live (DC-VA area), CN-8, Philly After Midnight and Sunday Live (WPVI Philadelphia), along with countless radio interviews.   e-mail  [email protected]