Sat. May 28th, 2022

Author’s program note. We Americans are at our best when we have identified a pressing problem, then set about the task of solving it, no matter how difficult. Right now, the problem is terrorism… what it is, how it works, the people who perpetrate the outrages… and what we as a nation and as individuals and potential victims must do to ensure that they are stopped dead… and never be allowed to practice their malicious craft ever again, against anyone, anywhere.

You might think such a high and strenuous goal is just too difficult, indeed that it is beyond the capacities of mere mortals. But you’d be wrong. Terrorism is man-made and as such it can be minimized, curtailed, and through assiduous, unflagging effort wiped out by man. A man like Joe Friday.

“Just the facts, ma’am.”

Joe Friday is arguably the nation’s best known cop. He was created and played by American actor, television producer, and writer Jack Webb (1920-1982) on “Dragnet”. The series first ran on radio (1949-1956) and television (1951-1959) and again in 1967-1970. There was also a theatrical film (1954) and a TV-movie (1969).

Why was this show with its unmistakable opening of blunt words and blunter music so popular? Because it dealt with real people Boston Car Service (“the names have been changed to protect the innocent”) and solved real crimes. Jack Webb was so perfect in his role that when he died in 1982 he was buried with full police honors, a rarity for someone who was not a policeman.

Friday was all about getting down to business, identifying problems, brainstorming solutions and using the incomparable Yankee brain power to defeat the wicked. He was thorough, indefatigable, high minded, and honest. In other words, he had what was required for success, including the absolutely necessary skill of being willing to grow, listen to others, and work together for the common good. He was never a show-off with a “hey, look at me” mentality.

This is the kind of person we need at the front lines of our great war against terrorism, for this unadulterated cruelty knows no barriers, no limits, and absolutely no humanity at all. It is the very definition of evil and must be treated as such. Its perpetrators are pernicious vermin, and deserve neither charity nor forgiveness, for they give none to anyone. Sadly, we are not yet fully equipped to deal with this mobile menace of ingenuity and increasing expertise and sophistication. And the extent to which we are disorganized, inefficient and disarranged is the very measure of our danger and risk.

“Russian authorities contacted the US government with concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev not once but ‘multiple times,’ including an alert it sent after he was first investigated by FBI agents in Boston, raising new questions about whether the FBI should have paid more attention to the suspected Boston Marathon bomber… “

What’s worse, this is just the tip of the ice-berg on intelligence and overall communications break-downs. The agencies on which we spend billions and billions of dollars are, day by day, shown to resemble the Keystone Cops, to the extent that with the Boston Marathon case we may be seeing the development of the greatest intelligence failure and scandal in the entire history of the Great Republic. And remember this; when intelligence agencies fail, people die… regular ordinary people, including a disproportionate number of children and young people. Indeed the word “scandal” is not remotely satisfactory to label this botched mess showcasing one problem after another that makes them anything other than intelligent. This is a crisis of the first magnitude.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the Solons of the capital are and will be tripping over each other to identify and solve such problems; that is until something easier and less demanding arises. Thus, Solon or not, I have something to say on these matters. And Joe-Friday-like I intend to make my comments and recommendations, terse, pointed, and do-able.

1) In 1953 a brilliant historian named Cecil Woodham-Smith wrote a brilliant book which ought to be required reading for anyone connected with the war business, which is a veritable army of people as General and President Dwight David Eisenhower once memorably reminded us. Its title is “The Reason Why” on the famous charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War (1853-1856) when the best cavalry on Earth rode directly into the unremitting and pitiless cannons of the Tsar. “C’est magnifique” said the French commander Pierre Bosquet, “mais c’est pas la guerre.”

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