Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Van Hollen owes the public some specifics on terrorism

JB Van Hollen, a Republican candidate for State Attorney General, scared the cows today when he stated that there are terrorists training and preparing for action right here in Wisconsin.

Now I know the first reaction was, gee, maybe we should be looking for Osama Bin Laden in the Wisconsin Dells. To which the cynic in me would respond, give me a break. If he’s hiding there, Tommy Bartlett would have him on display now at $8.50/head.

But I think a reasonable person can legitimately say there is a terrorism problem in Wisconsin. We have both the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front operating in our state. The FBI is still looking for whoever caused the power transmission towers in Oak Creek to fall, and a pipe-bomber in Madison. And it wasn’t that long ago “Dr. Chaos” was free and recruiting followers to commit acts of terrorism just to suit his vanity. The Department of Homeland Security even has a seminar planned on “soft targets” in the Milwaukee area.

And who will ever forget Sterling Hall?

So I think it quite reasonable for a candidate for State Attorney General to talk about terrorism during the campaign.

What I find unreasonable is to state flat-out that there are terrorists among us, and then to be speechless when pressed for specifics. What I listed above is what I was able to find after a brief search of my own memory and the internet. So far, Van Hollen’s campaign can only utter,

He can't talk about specifics that he dealt with ... as U.S. attorney," said Van Hollen campaign spokesman Brian Fraley. "He can't breach the confidentiality of that office. (But) it would be naive to think there aren't terrorists in Wisconsin."
I think it quite na├»ve that a candidate can just issue a statement alleging terrorists are living among us, and then not to be called out on it. How many terrorists, and where? And if Van Hollen feels that he cannot address the issue without breaching the confidentiality of his former office, then surely he ought not to have mentioned it at all? At the very least, couldn’t he have been specific about some of the very public cases I just mentioned?

More interesting to me is the reaction of the Van Hollen campaign in response to a statement by Waukesha DA Paul Bucher. Bucher said (in part),
“If Mr. Van Hollen does in fact have information regarding terrorists who are, as he claims, “training and raising funds” within our state borders, he must immediately share it with the proper Federal and State authorities. I cannot imagine why he failed to act on this information in his capacity as U.S. Attorney, but I encourage him to fully disclose any information in order to ensure the safety of the citizens of Wisconsin.”
Van Hollen’s campaign responded with a press release re-hashing an attack made on Bucher after a joint appearance on Charlie Sykes’ program.
“I am shocked, quite frankly, that Paul Bucher really doesn’t know that President Bush has entrusted the state attorneys general with a significant role in fighting terrorism here at home,” said Van Hollen. “As the former United States Attorney one of my priorities was terrorism prevention and working with all other law enforcement agencies to collect intelligence. My district was one of the first in the nation to share intelligence between various federal, state and local law enforcement.”
Perhaps it’s time to remind the Van Hollen campaign of a commitment made by one of their consultants, Brian Fraley:
While we won't let false accusations go unanswered, nothing is more boring and politically stupid than a tit-for-tat between campaign supporters--especially in a Republican Primary. While it may make for interesting copy, and Xoff and company will eat it up, Lord knows the party doesn't need that.
That is, until they legitimately get ripped in the press.

Fortunately for the Van Hollen campaign, their wild announcement came out the same day as Brett Favre’s announcement he would play for another season and four Democrats were sentenced for their role in slashing the tires of vans for a GOP get-out-the-vote effort. What the Van Hollen people need to do is regroup, figure out what terrorism cases they can discuss publicly (perhaps Van Hollen prosecuted a terrorism related case he can discuss), and stop throwing wild statements about terrorists without backing those statements with substance.

Otherwise they sound like hysterics desperate for attention. Wisconsin already has a US Senator like that. We don’t need another hysteric as this state’s top cop.