IN THEIR ENTHUSIASM to bash the Bush administration for its handling of the war – which Democrats consider an annoying distraction from the real business of government, which is redistributing income – the left has embraced FBI agent Coleen Rowley as a modern Joan of Arc.
From liberal headquarters in Times Square, Maureen Dowd fawns over Rowley, calling her "the blunt Midwesterner" painting a "stunning and gruesome portrait of just how far gone the bureau is." Frank Rich calls her "a forthright American woman."
At least they seem to have gotten over their disdain for government whistle-blowers. Back when the world's most famous whistle-blower produced tapes proving the president of the United States had committed a slew of felonies, the left was more muted in its enthusiasm for female truth-tellers. Dowd called Linda Tripp a "witch" with a "boiling cauldron." Rich said Americans "despise" a "snitch."
Fortunately for Rowley, she is only a witness – after the fact – to the FBI bureaucracy's abject fear of racial profiling. One shudders to think what names liberals would be calling the unglamorous agent if she were a witness to actual crimes committed by their beloved Clinton.
Also fortunately for Rowley, liberals aren't listening to her.
It is striking that the media have refused to report on Rowley's specific indictment of the FBI, preferring to prattle on about her raw courage in the abstract (i.e., she painted "a stunning and gruesome portrait of just how far gone the bureau is." OK – but what did she say, exactly?). Bewildering news accounts leave the impression that Rowley's act of dauntless valor was to fly to Washington to inform the Senate that the FBI has really old computers.
In fact, the gravamen of Rowley's 13-page memo is essentially that FBI headquarters botched the Zacarias Moussaoui case by refusing to acknowledge that being a Muslim constitutes "probable cause" for a search warrant. She didn't put it that succinctly, but that is precisely her point.
Rowley condemns FBI brass for refusing to authorize a search warrant for Moussaoui based on the following information: He was a Muslim in flight school who had overstayed his visa and toward whom agents were suspicious because he refused to consent to a search of his computer.
First of all, refusing consent to a search is not considered suspicious, since it is your right to refuse. Any other rule would allow cops to bootstrap their way into a warrant. "Hi, Zacarias, may we search your computer? No? That's suspicious! Grounds for a warrant!" I don't think so.
So, let's see, which of the remaining factors might constitute probable cause? In flight school? NO. Overstayed visa? NO. Is a Muslim? NOT ALLOWED.
As Rowley admits, "reasonable minds may differ as to whether probable cause existed" on the basis of Moussaoui being a Muslim. But there is more! She insists that once "French Intelligence Service confirmed his affiliations with radical fundamentalist Islamic groups," probable cause was "certainly established."
Not under the law it wasn't. Being in league with known terrorists may be suspicious, but it is not probable cause to believe that a particular crime is being or has been committed by a specific individual. Were the law otherwise, one could get a warrant to search anyone who associates with the Clintons.
Moreover, any Muslim who has attended a mosque in Europe – certainly in England, where Moussaoui lived – has had "affiliations with radical fundamentalist Islamic groups."
A few months after the Sept. 11 attack, 80 percent of British Muslims said they opposed the war in Afghanistan. The Muslim Council of Britain called for an immediate end to the war. A poll by the Daily Telegraph found that 98 percent of Muslims between the ages of 20 and 45 said they would not fight for Britain – and 48 percent said they would fight for Osama bin Laden.
A Gallup poll taken at the end of last year found that only 18 percent of the people in nine Muslim nations believed the yarn about Arabs flying planes into buildings on Sept. 11. (Many subscribed to the Zionist plot theory.) This was based on almost 10,000 face-to-face interviews in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan and Morocco. Seventy-seven percent said America's military action in Afghanistan was "morally unjustified."
In other words, if you associate with Muslims abroad, you are associating with Muslim fanatics. Consequently, Rowley's position is that "probable cause" existed to search Moussaoui's computer because he was a Muslim who had lived in England.
I happen to agree with her, certainly after Sept. 11, but liberals don't. So how did Rowley become their Norma Rae? Liberals should be applauding the white male oppressors at FBI headquarters, not this incipient Mark Fuhrman. It was FBI headquarters that rebuffed Rowley's callous insensitivity to Muslims, refused to engage in racial profiling, denied a warrant request to search Moussaoui's computer, and thus failed to uncover the Sept. 11 plot.
The FBI allowed thousands of Americans to be slaughtered on the altar of political correctness. What more do liberals want?