Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Prudence in face of terrorism risk

The Obama administration's decision to close U.S. embassies and consulates across the Middle East and North Africa and issue a worldwide travel alert is a prudent response to intelligence suggesting an impending terrorist attack. The exact nature of the plot isn't known, but terrorist communications — including from Ayman al-Zawahri, the man who took over for Osama bin Laden — indicate a serious threat. Better to temporarily close the diplomatic posts and be prepared for the worst than to ignore the signs.

Intelligence officials picked up electronic communications between Zawahri, who is believed to be in Pakistan, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, who leads al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen and has been dubbed the "general manager" of the overall terrorist organization. It was believed an attack led by Wuhayshi was to take place last Sunday. To protect American lives, the State Department ordered 19 U.S. embassies and consulates closed, including those in Yemen, Libya, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Diplomatic posts will stay shuttered through at least Saturday due to the ongoing concern over an attack.

No attack occurred Sunday, but that does not mean the Obama administration overreacted. The U.S. action may have deprived al-Qaida of a rich target, heightened vigilance that plugged a vulnerability or scared the attackers off for the moment, as counterterrorism experts postulate. American officials say the plot was one of the most serious uncovered since 9/11. It comes after al-Qaida has been under sustained assault by U.S. drone strikes and other offensives that have decimated its leadership.

But successfully intercepting the communication of known terrorists is not a basis for justifying all of the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. On a Sunday talk show, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, "If we did not have these programs, then we simply wouldn't be able to listen in on the bad guys." Chambliss is confusing two programs — one that monitors international communications and one that sweeps up the calling data of Americans. Senators with knowledge of the classified elements of the domestic telephone metadata collection program say it has had very little intelligence value relative to the privacy intrusion.

Part of the administration's rapid response to the vaguely outlined plot is a reaction to what happened after four Americans were killed in September during an attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Congressional Republicans claim the State Department was indifferent to security issues there. This week, the administration is being clear that it does not underestimate threats. Embassy closures are appropriate in the short term. But in the long run, the American people have to understand that there is no absolute security.

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Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region won’t make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Florida’s citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nation’s health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18