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FBI Looks Into the Face of Terror

June 08, 2002

Despite tough competition, Robert Scheer's June 4 commentary, "We've Had Enough Witch Hunts," is probably his most absurd yet. Scheer is contradicting himself and overlooking the obvious. He points out, correctly, that there were huge mistakes made by the FBI and CIA during the last few years which, if not made, might have prevented the nightmare of Sept. 11. But the biggest of those mistakes was an unwillingness to engage in the racial profiling of Middle Eastern men, as at least one FBI official has already admitted. Scheer now wants the FBI, and everyone else, to continue making the same mistake, in defiance of common sense and experience.

There is not one speck of evidence that the terrorists who are trying to destroy Western civilization are anyone other than Middle Eastern men who profess the Islamic faith. And there is nothing wrong with having a "witch hunt" when the witches actually exist.

Marc Russell

Los Angeles

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The selectively myopic Scheer opines that President Bush's Cabinet "went the first eight months of his administration without discussing terrorist threats." He failed to note whether the "former White House officials" cited how many times the Bush National Security Council discussed the threat of terrorism. Nor did he mention at how many Cabinet meetings during Bill Clinton's eight years as president was the threat of terrorism considered. It's a sad commentary that Clinton only communicated with his FBI director, Louis Freeh, through his attorney general, Janet Reno.

Clinton completely ignored the substantive report of his own vice president--the Gore commission report on aviation safety and security, released Feb. 12, 1997. And even more significantly, the Clinton administration paid faint attention to the bipartisan report of former Sens. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) and Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), released in September 1999. The contention that, but for the indifference and incompetence of the Bush administration before Sept. 11, the incredible tragedy could have been prevented, hits a new low, even for Scheer.

Bill Smith

Indian Wells

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Re "FBI Given Broad Authority to Monitor Public Activities," May 31: Now that the Justice Department has given the green light for FBI agents to infiltrate mosques for intelligence-gathering purposes, we Muslims in America are faced with the choice of several responses. The first would be to resign ourselves to the situation; we could place banners in our houses of worship stating "Welcome FBI Brothers."

A second option would be to grow in distrust of each other, further eroding an already divided Muslim community (which, I conjecture, is part of the plan).

A third option, which is my favorite, is to strive to become the best Muslims we can be through study and the performance of good works. Americans of goodwill would recognize our efforts and support us; Americans of intolerance would still hate us, but at least we will have deserved their respect.

Mustafa Novikoff

Desert Hot Springs

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It's no coincidence that the Department of Justice unveiled the FBI's new, expanded powers on the same day the nation mourned the victims of Sept. 11 and marked the termination of the ground zero cleanup project. Although the FBI had plenty of information before Sept. 11 to predict the attacks, it is now being given wide latitude to spy on all of us, in order to cover up its own incompetence in failing to properly analyze the data it already had.

Marjorie Cohn

Associate Professor

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

San Diego

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"New FBI Guidelines on Surveillance" (letters, June 4) presents two letters against and two in favor. Let me just say that for those with nothing to hide, surveillance is not harmful, excessive or an infringement of rights. As for the "witch hunts," where there are witches, we should hunt and ferret them out.

John A. Saylor

Long Beach

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