Conor Friedersdorf's Needless, Xenophobic Panic

Conor Friedersdorf devotes a column today to bashing Michelle Malkin for something she wrote back in 2002. Yes, that’s right, an 11 year old column was in desperate need of a rebuttal. Here’s the bit Friedersdorf is upset about:

How many of Saddam Hussein’s sleeper terrorists are waiting
dormant in the United States to retaliate against us when the War on Iraq
The Bush administration has begun to monitor Iraqis inside our
country to identify potential domestic terrorist threats posed by
sympathizers of the Baghdad regime, according to The New York Times. But
while the new intelligence program is tracking thousands of Iraqi citizens
and Iraqi-Americans with dual citizenship who are attending our universities
or working at private corporations, there is no indication of what federal
authorities are doing to locate the untold numbers of illegal aliens from
Iraq who have streamed across our open borders.
More than 115,000 people from Iraq and other Middle Eastern
countries are here illegally. Some 6,000 Middle Eastern men who have defied
deportation orders remain on the loose. And an international crime ring, led
by Iraqi native George Tajirian, demonstrates the scope of the alarming
problem of potential terrorists pressing at our southern gate.

And here’s Friedersdorf’s decade-late rebuttal:

Columns like this are seldom revisited a decade later, given that they
are totally devoid of value, but it’s clarifying to look back, because
there’s no need to argue that her fearmongering was wrongheaded — it
can be stated as a fact that no dormant sleeper cells retaliated after
the war began; that dual citizens posed virtually no problem, if any;
that Iraqi illegal immigrants did not menace the American people; and
that their having slipped across the border made virtually no

All of this “fearmongering” was much ado about nothing. Looking back, these “needless, xenophobic” ideas about terrorists crossing the border and posing a threat seem silly. Who would ever believe such nonsense? Well, Conor Friedersdorf for one. He used to work at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin where he wrote a blog on immigration. Back in 2005 he wrote:

President Bush should heed a lesson taught by countless Beyond Borders posts: Islamic terror groups know that security along our
southern border is weak and have developed plans for smuggling terrorists into the United States across it. If a future terrorist attack is tied to operatives who sneaked across the Mexican border, Bush’s legacy will suffer irreparable harm due to his stunning inaction on an obvious and preventable homeland-security weakness. Eliminating that weakness ought to be Bush’s primary objective.

This was not the only time Friedersdorf sounded the alarm on terrorists crossing the border. Again from 2005:

We face a terrorist threat on our southern border. Our ports are vulnerable to weapons smuggling and attacks. Thousands of illegal immigrants sneak into the country every day.

Here’s one from 2006:

The ease with which terrorists can cross a porous border bolsters calls for a crackdown.

If you read Malkin’s full column, which Friedersdorf doesn’t link for some reason, you’ll find her point is pretty well summed up by what Friedersdorf wrote several years later. True, she focused the issue on Iraq (with whom we were just starting a war at the time) but the point of her concern is the same, i.e. having an uncontrolled southern border is a potential danger that should be taken seriously when waging war on potential terrorists. Indeed, Friedersdorf made clear the concern was “Islamic” terrorists being smuggled across the southern border. To what end? To carry out attacks on the US, of course. It’s precisely the same concern Malkin was highlighting.

So Friedersdorf goes back 11 years to attack Malkin for her “fearmongering” but has seemingly forgotten that he echoed her concerns on numerous occasions years later. If he wants to play gotcha, he should probably pick an issue where he didn’t enthusiastically agree with his target.


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