Baby Terrorists

This, from Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas, is about as dumb as it gets:

I talked to a retired FBI agent who said that one of the things they were looking at were terrorist cells overseas who had figured out how to game our system. And it appeared they would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby. They wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, twenty...thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life. 'Cause they figured out how stupid we are being in this country to allow our enemies to game our system, hurt our economy, get setup in a position to destroy our way of life.

This is simply too stupid to even bother refuting. But this sort of fear mongering is nothing new for Gohmert.

Posted on June 29, 2010 at 6:28 AM • 92 Comments

Comments

Osprey10June 29, 2010 6:52 AM

Bruce, I would like to see your refutations on this. This seems like a plausible long term strategy as one of many ways to sneak "bad guys" into the country. 20 years is less than half of the time associated with the cold war and it's strategies.

Adam-12June 29, 2010 7:13 AM

He's suggesting that a pregnant terrorist comes to the US, has an "anchor baby," and then returns to Jihadistan to raise her little American Citizen to one day return as s suicide bomber.

The absurdity of the plan starts with how completely unnecessary it is: apparently a pregnant terrorist has no problem getting into the country, so why doesn't she go ahead and carry out the attack 20 years ahead of schedule?

thinkerJune 29, 2010 7:13 AM

and now imagine the woman to have 2 babies. And after puberty (lets say with 16) they concieve also 2 babies and so on. One can easily show that this scales exponentially and in few gerenerations the terrorists will take over not only the USA but teh whole world!!1!.

SnallaBolagetJune 29, 2010 7:14 AM

Osprey10; I don't think Bruce has thought this through enough, and as usual, anything that isn't obviously useful to him at first glance, or he doesn't agree at once, is pronounced "stupid", "fear mongering" or something similar.

Bruce, I know you're probably busy with your "workshop" there, but maybe you'd care to comment on why you think long term strategies are stupid? As Osprey10 said also, 20 years isn't all that long when looking at for example the cold war...

uk visaJune 29, 2010 7:14 AM

I'm not sure whether people like Louie Gohmert should be barred from politics for being stupid or being racist... but either way he shouldn't be in a position of power; even in Texas.

SnallaBolagetJune 29, 2010 7:20 AM

Thinker, Adam and uk-visa; The point isn't really the woman and the baby, and we all know that Gohmert isn't the sharpest drillbit around. The point is long term strategies, as I'm sure this FBI agent was trying to explain to Gohmert as well.

It is actually possible to "game" the system like that - there are a lot of people around the world getting their US passports every week because they were born there and then taken out of the country (I know, I've worked at a US embassy), but again, the main point is long term strategies that may jeopardize the integrity of today's systems.

TiagoJune 29, 2010 7:23 AM

What if the wannabe-terrorism comes home from school and says “I wanna become an artist” at age 16?

thinkerJune 29, 2010 7:28 AM

SnallaBolaget & Osprey10: what kind of long term strategy should this be? Raising a child with a citizenship of the US? Where? Why? In Pakistan for best indoctrination? Because the grown up can enter the US? Why not indoctrinate direct in the US? IF entering the Us for giving birth is ok - why not carry out an attack after giving birth (or while still being pregnant)? This plans fails on so many levels it is hard to keep track.
Comparison with cold war is not a valid example: in cold war two parties of roughly equal outfit stand against each other. Both had nearly unlimited supply of manpower and equipment (up to satellites and atomic bombs). Terrorists fight an unbalanced fight. They have to take what they got at hand - self made bombs, stupid personnel (cf. underwear-bomber). Planing in generations does simply not fit this fighting model.

Nick FortuneJune 29, 2010 7:31 AM

I'll give it a shot.

There's a lot of assumptions in that threat model. It assumes that young women who hate the US are fairly easy for terrorists to find, and they hate it enough to be willing to dedicate 20 years of their life and the life of their unborn child to the cause. It assumes that these women are going to be willing to live in the nation that they hate, and live as a one of the locals.

Then it assumes that you could raise the child in such a way that he integrated into society without raising alarms, and yet secretly hated everything around him. It assumes the child won't, in effect, go native and grow up a healthy, nomal US citizen whose mum just happens to have some really weird ideas about her adopted country.

And it assumes that the necessary training can be imparted to the child without triggering alarms. So that really means the mother has to do it, or else the kid has to fly to some terrorist hotspot for training, at which point he risks getting red flagged much as any other potential terrorist, and the advantage is lost. So the mother has to be an expert in explosives and other terroist techniques, and remember her training while the kid is growing up, which further narrows the pool of possible mothers, and means it's likely that she's already flagged in her own right...

Top and bottom of it: it'd make a great movie, but there's far too many "ifs" in it to make a credible threat.

GreenSquirrelJune 29, 2010 7:39 AM

I am somewhat lost for words here.

First off - this is not a rational strategy likely to be undertaken by any current terrorist organisation. It is riddled with flaws. Like most terrorist threats it does not scale well when compared with the strategy of national agencies fighting the cold war.

Even then, "sleeper cells" of this nature were (and still are) rare outside the fiction stand at the airport bookshop.

Most terrorist organisations, just like national agencies, work on much more compressed timescales. No jihadi leader is going to rouse his followers with a call that the great satan will be attacked in two decades.

Still, it remains possible. However, lots of things are possible so we have to draw the line somewhere.

Other issues:

1 - as others have said, you have got a Jihadi into the target country so why not just attack there and then.
2 - there is no way of being sure that the "sleeper" will grow up commited to the cause and have evaded security agencies well enough to be of value (*)
3 - there is no way of knowing that the target will still be the target in 20 or so years. (**)

Another avenue of thought is what can you do about this attack: You can change your citizenship allowances so that simply being born in the US doesnt count which would close down this particular "gaming" route. But would the add on repercussions make this justifiable?

If this route was closed down would it mean the system couldnt be gamed at all? No.

You could, for example, have the child born in country X, become a citizen there, then get a job with a US company and get relocated. You could even simply invest a few million in the US economy and effectively buy citizenship.

This is simply a massive case of fear mongering where someone who may or may not be playing with a full deck has an idea that makes no sense in the real world.

Sadly, the US still seems to be in the grip of terror and will consider any idea, no matter how crazy.

--
* Int failures aside, I think being born in the US then immediately returning to Jihadistan, attending terrorist training camps etc, for 20 years and trying to get back into the country will raise at least a few suspicions.

** Regimes change...

GreenSquirrelJune 29, 2010 7:44 AM

As an addendum: I am also unconvinced that most cold war strategies were this long thinkings.

With the exception of the broad plan to sacrifice NATO on the West German battlefield, most plans had a fairly short flash to bang time. The only ones dragged out to decades were the tactical strategies (for want of a better phrase, sorry to all the purists) of what subs, ships, tanks and planes were developed.

Political and economic strategies were all based around electoral cycles. Even the USSR didnt have much of a real long term plan - for anything, including food production..

teapartyJune 29, 2010 7:52 AM

there are 20,000 somalis in the minneapolis area, a few who wanted to become terrorists moved to somalia to join the shabab.
the vast majority of them are not terrorists.
those who wanted to try it usually had it end badly.
terrorism is not attractive except to the most repressed people, like palestinians.

brazzyJune 29, 2010 8:02 AM

@GreenSquirrel:

"Another avenue of thought is what can you do about this attack: You can change your citizenship allowances so that simply being born in the US doesnt count which would close down this particular "gaming" route."

It seems to me pretty obvious that this avenue of thought was the entire point of the whole fearmongering scenario, and that in fact the scenario was developed working backwards from the desire to make US citizenship more exclusive.

NickJune 29, 2010 8:21 AM

Right, because We All Know planning for major terrorist incidents begins 20 years prior. The blueprints for 9/11 were drawn up in 1981 ...

Seriously, folks, this is anti-immigrant fear-mongering, and it *IS* stupid. Were there legions of secret Chinese sleeper agents introduced during the Chinese Exclusion Act? Did the Japanese Internment lay bare the insidious plan to take over the U.S. via anchor babies?

Yanno, as long as the geniuses watching the gates haven't figured out that math is commutative (i.e. 3 oz. + 3 oz. + 3 oz. + 3 oz = 12 oz.), I don't think we need to worry about secret sleeper anchor babies.

AppSecJune 29, 2010 8:31 AM

This is going to come out wrong.. but..

Why do terrorists need to do this to game the system?

We have plenty of US Citizens which game the welfare system and pump out babies when they know they can't afford it thus putting a burden on that system.

yes, it's not "phsyical" terrorism, but it's causing damage to the American society.

Please don't take that the wrong way.. It was meant as factual, nothing else.

FreekJune 29, 2010 8:33 AM

@Osprey10, @SnallaBolaget:

I have enough trouble getting my little daughter to just eat her meal. The idea that it is possible to raise a child in such a matter that you can predict with absolute certain what occupation he/she has at age 21 (terrorist in this case) is utterly ridiculous.

Of course, this does inspire a whole new sort of parenting. ("If you do not eat your meal, you will become a terrorist when you grow up!")

bf skinnerJune 29, 2010 8:33 AM

Resurrection of commies under the bed? Podpeople rule? Defend ourselves against fictional threats. Tailgunner would so be proud.

Xenophobia may be a survival strategy but only in a world of isolated populations. In a world of vigorus trade and movement it's a recipe for cultural suicide. even in hunter gathers cultures they know 'marry out...or die out'

brazzyJune 29, 2010 8:45 AM

@AppSec

It's only "gaming the system" if it's planned and intentional. The image of the "welfare mother" who has a adozen children in order to get a bigger welfare check is as much an invention of conservative pundits as these "sleeper terrorist babies".

Most multiple unwed mothers never consciously chose to have their children, so reducing welfare would not prevent them from having kids, it would just make them unable to feed them.

clvrmnkyJune 29, 2010 8:48 AM

Good grief, I hope the criticisms of Bruce's accurate assessment of this stupid notion are lame humour or trolling

I really hope so.

mattaJune 29, 2010 8:57 AM

On one hand, I have to agree that it would seem far fetched in theory of sending pregnant women over here to create future US terrorists but then I see reports over and over of these compounds/cults in TX, Idaho, Montana, etc that use religion as a means of propagating baby factories to build/further the cult's idealogy. These children are indoctrinated for 15-20 years with some meglomaniac's views of the world (typically anti-govt, anti-tyranny, etc). Waco, this guy (http://www.kboi2.com/news/national/97307554.html), etc. Take that same scenario and then add an Islamic slant. There are more than a few Islamic "educational" accademies on US soil that are funded by funds from overseas for the sole purpose of providing Islamic education to Muslims here. Not being paranoid or thinking its time to start rounding people up but when we can see what home grown Christian nutjobs can be, why do we assume that Islamic versions can't exist here? How to prevent this? got me but seems possible...

jrrJune 29, 2010 9:15 AM

I couldn't even follow the broken english that's written in enough to figure out what it was trying to say.

GreenSquirrelJune 29, 2010 9:17 AM

@ brazzy

Well said, both comments.

@ some of the others - lots of things are possible, but that doesnt mean we should either worry about them or do anything.

Saying it "seems possible" or "sounds plausible" (right or wrong) is meaningless unless you are pitching a new film script to Holywood execs, or in the case of Homeland Security you are pitching for more money and draconian legislation.

David ThornleyJune 29, 2010 9:18 AM

First, what the plan seems to be saying is that, if we can get somebody into the country now, we can leverage that to get somebody into the country in twenty years, and that somebody is almost certainly going to be watched. As many others have suggested, if the bad guys get somebody into the US, they'll use that opportunity to strike, not to reproduce.

Second, tightening US citizenship would require a Constitutional amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment states that anybody born in the US is a citizen thereof, and that's not going to be changed easily.

mcbJune 29, 2010 9:27 AM

You know, if you look down the movie plot threat aisle at just the right angle, you can almost make out what Louie is thinking...

The Parallax View division of Al Qaeda scours the globe intent on purchasing the activation codes for all the un-triggered subconsciously brainwashed deep-cover sleeper agents left over from the Cold War. You'd think the Telefon Book could be had for pennies on the dollar these days.

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep..."

Next thing you know great-grand-pappy is be breaking out of the memory care unit to wreak havoc according to 60 year old instructions, all while imagining he's playing bridge with the garden society. We must not let there be an un-triggered subconsciously brainwashed deep-cover sleeper agent gap, Mr. President! Special ops sends some nut job with a sword deep into the heart of darkness to terminate OBL's command...with extreme prejudice. The horror, the horror.

Plan B is to take the long view and grow their own Jihadi-Boys from Jiddah.

ChelloveckJune 29, 2010 9:28 AM

@Parent -- Why do I imagine a cute Saturday morning cartoon show called "Terrorist Babies"? It'd be kind of like "Muppet Babies" or "Baby Looney Tunes", maybe with a little "Pinky and the Brain" thrown in.

[Fade-in to two babies in diapers and turbans in a crib.]
"What are we going to do tonight, baby Osama?"
"The same thing we do every night, baby Saddam. Try to overthrow the infidels!"

AppSecJune 29, 2010 9:29 AM

@brazzy
I don't know if you work in social services or know anyone who has, but the people that I know who have would say that your facts are wrong. There are people who do have kids just for the sake of getting money and gaming the system. This is not based on opinion of my independant policitical background.

Bruce SchneierJune 29, 2010 9:31 AM

"Bruce, I know you're probably busy with your 'workshop' there, but maybe you'd care to comment on why you think long term strategies are stupid?"

I never said that long-term strategies are stupid, although I'd be hard pressed to find examples of 20-year political strategies.

I said that this long-term strategy is stupid, for the reasons that others have outlined above.

Trichinosis USAJune 29, 2010 9:33 AM

Wow. I never thought I'd see the day when someone else in Congress would top the xenophobic stupidity of Rep. Peter King (R, Archie Bunker's NY)

RoxanneJune 29, 2010 9:38 AM

So that's what's happening on all of those Mormon ranches in Utah and Texas: They're raising neo-Conservative terrorists!

They know it's possible, because they're doing it themselves.

This only works if you manage to keep the kids out of the mall. Otherwise, they're off to the goth stores, and it's all over.

David RommJune 29, 2010 9:39 AM

I wonder just what Rep. Gohmert's mother was thinking, when she became pregnant. Did she really want to raise a dumb, anal-retentive racist? Was this really her plan, or the plan of her Wahhabi masters to weaken America?

And just who is this "retired FBI agent" who is spreading disinformation? Where was his mother from?

JacobJune 29, 2010 9:48 AM

Well, We can't stand for this!! Let's send american wemens (sp on purpose) over there to give birth. China, Pakistan, everywhere. Send from Texas. Maybe just launch 'em over the border into mexico. Like they used to do storming castle defenses. We can not allow this to stand. They threaten our way of life 30years hence, we relatiate. I volunteer Pelosi first one to go. Wait, she's not of childbearing years. Hmm, decisions, decisions. Yes I'm joking. sort of. Oh, hell let's just sell them pop music and fashion. That'll corrupt em, it's worked for us. Now, that will destroy their of life. LOL

vexorianJune 29, 2010 10:02 AM

Long term strategies are not stupid. But there is something intrinsically stupid about this specific one.

You know the usual drill, keep your intelligence cells and prepare to stop the attack. I actually think the most ridiculous part of the story is that the guy thinks that the only barrier to prevent terrorists is citizen-ship. We have a terrorist cell making up a ridiculous 20 years plan only to have a US citizen terrorist, the ridiculous part about it is that US citizenship has already been easy for terrorists to get.

It is fearmongering because it does not really help. How are we supposed to handle this 'threat' . Deny entry to Muslim women? That's absurd. The correct way to handle this threat is to do nothing different than what is currently done. Just maintain your intelligence resources and block the terrorist attack 20 years after. The terrorist cells will still need to contact this terrorist child to train him and organize the attack, that's a lot of holes in which intelligence can find out about the plan.

Ad HominemJune 29, 2010 10:32 AM

Snalla'security' Blogger who lays vigourous troll bait on other peoples forums and leaves his blog address to increase his hit rate says what?

Nick PJune 29, 2010 10:33 AM

I remember this being a Soviet plot of the Cold War era that took place in books mostly, but probably some real efforts. It required parents that were truly loyal to the cause who raised their kids in a very sheltered, propaganda-heavy lifestyle. Then, they could be made to believe and do whatever evil things the sponsor organization wanted. They could get short-term results during teenage years.

An example of how this brainwashing could come about is Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door. Many specifics are fictional, but the gist of it is true. It's based on a case where a woman brainwashed her kids into torturing, raping and killing a young girl for insane reasons. With steady propaganda and classical conditioning, the kids not only did the evil acts but felt it was morally right and covered for their mother. That sort of brainwashing is how I see this sleeper strategy going down in the real world, although MKULTRA-style research might make such a long-term strategy even more effective.

So, in short, it's insane for the threat model and opponents, but other opponents might be able to pull it off with a sizeable investment in resources. It's just unlikely as they would have to be doing it for hundreds of kids, all sent to Yale and West Point, before they got enough sleepers in important places. Too costly for anyone but the Chinese or North Koreans, but they get plenty of scrutiny. Concluding: it's possible and effective, but too cost-prohibitive to happen.

Angel OneJune 29, 2010 10:48 AM

This is just another movie plot threat. In this case the movie is the Manchurian candidate.

As a side note, does anyone know of a single person who successfully raised a child to pursue the exact path in life that the parents wanted? How about a teenager that listened to everything his parents said, to the point of being willing to commit suicide just because they said so? Anyone? Anyone? Thank you - the defense rests.

Angel OneJune 29, 2010 10:51 AM

I meant to add - Gohmert is clearly trying to make a (right wing) point about our immigration policies. The terrorism rant is really just a sideshow to the main point that immigration is changing the character of the US - it's claim that's been repeated by many anti immigration activists for centuries.

jbJune 29, 2010 10:51 AM

There are a series of hotels that cater to women who want to give birth in the US, so the child gets automatic US citizenship.

It makes sense from an economics view: give the child a major advantage later in life, with access to education and life services that would be otherwise unavailable in the home country.

Birth tourism doesn't make sense in any other context, really.

The statement is just another example of general xenophobia the US expresses a little too often.

BobWJune 29, 2010 10:52 AM

Congressman Gohmert seems to be a wingnut, but I have questions.

1) Where is the link to the Congressional Record? Context can change the meaning drastically.

2) Where are the Democrat wingnuts? With 253 in the House, there have to be one or two.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

It makes me wonder about the source. Doesn't somebody nonpartisan check for wingnuttery?

Kyle MaxwellJune 29, 2010 10:53 AM

I love the idea that teenagers will grow up to lead exactly the lifestyle their parents want for them since before they were born, including dying for their parents' ideals.

Clearly, the people who think this is easy and normal have never raised children.

jacobJune 29, 2010 10:53 AM

@vex, My joking post aside. I absolutely agree with you and @NickP. This is silly. There are better ways to attack. The 9/11 hijackers are just one example. McVeigh is another. Let's move on to more interesting items. How did the FBI really catch the russian spys? Wireless encrypted communications between notebook computers? There has to be more to this story...something had to have been leaked from Russia or a turncoat. There is no way they just found these people,let alone intercept it. Just my thoughts.

kangarooJune 29, 2010 10:54 AM

And today comes out the story of the Russian sleeper cells that apparently were a big investment resulting in almost nothing -- according to the defector from the '80s who's telling the story. According to him, there's about 60 'cause any more is too expensive; they spend their time in the US, Britain and France watching cable mostly.

Yes -- somethings are imaginable or even doable. They are planned by the Gohmert's of other countries who have much imagination and little brains, wasting resources in their child-like conspiracies.

Yes -- super-secret double infiltrators exist. Of course, spending that money developing a software company or biotech (or even a few more IEDs in Afghanistan) would be a better investment.

Who's stupider? The politicians and bureaucrats who peddle these wild schemes, or the schizophrenics who think this sounds reasonable and buy their product?

The primary value in such a program would be to get your opponent to destroy their own infrastructure in a fruitless attempt to battle phantasms.

PLHJune 29, 2010 10:56 AM

A cursory browsing of SnallaBolaget's Wordpress site tells me he/she is a hack with something personal against Schneier. He/she is definitely at the more alarmist, emotionally-charged end of the security pundit spectrum. I suppose I contributed to today's hit-count by going there, but at least I know there's no need to visit again. Back on-topic - GreenSquirrel and others have expertly articulated why Gohmert's comments were "as dumb as it gets".

PaulJune 29, 2010 10:58 AM

And this just happens to hit the news shortly after a United States citizen who resided in Turkey (iirc) was killed by Israeli commandos in the flotilla raid? Not buying it.

They're seeking an easy, acceptable-to-the-general-public out in cases where US citizens are killed (whether by us or by friendlies), by laying the groundwork for a "sleeper terrorist!" claim.

Or so it seems to me, but I'm not familiar with the Congressman.

periJune 29, 2010 11:04 AM

Many of the comments suggest people are missing this key point: the baby is not raised in the US.

Andre LePlumeJune 29, 2010 11:20 AM

Funny how the FBI busted those Russian "spies" (none of whom has been charged with espionage) right after Gomer came up with this drivel, and now the press is all a-twitter about sleeper cells, etc. I give it a day before some politico takes the FBI busts as vindication of Gomer's point.

BetaJune 29, 2010 11:30 AM

@brazzy: "It seems to me pretty obvious that [restricting naturalization] was the entire point of the whole fearmongering scenario..."

I completely agree, and the inarticulate Congressman shows his true colors near the end of the quoted passage: "...hurt our economy..."

We've heard this before. Once the politicians realized just how terrified the American people can be, they started dabbing a little eau d'terrorism on everything: If you buy marijuana, you're funding terrorists. If you watch bootleg videos, you're supporting terrorists. Drilling for oil in our coastal regions will make us less vulnerable to terrorist regimes (funny how that one has gone quiet recently). And now if you allow people to immigrate, you're letting terrorists take our jobs.

The so-called plan (come to America and have babies so that they can then *gasp* come to America), suggested by the unnamed retired FBI agent, at least gives us some amusement value.

Dave FunkJune 29, 2010 11:39 AM

Why is it that all the ad-hominen attacks seem to come from people who agree with Bruce. I think that this comes under the heading of 'When Hugo Chavez agrees with you, you might want to check your position.' Best sounding argument I hear is Bruce's comment about no 20 year political strategies. We (Americans) have a very very short attention span. Just because it is abnormal for us to think in 20 - 50 year time frames, does not mean that it is abnormal around the world. Both of Osama bin Laden's attacks on the World Trade Center were multi year operations. While I agree with the majority here that Rep. Gohmert's example is a bit simplistic, it begs other possibilities not as dumb. I do not see it as 'about as dumb as it gets', which is an ad-hominen argument I believe. Bruce, you are far far smarter than this.

LauraJune 29, 2010 11:56 AM

@brazzy: "It seems to me pretty obvious that this avenue of thought was the entire point of the whole fearmongering scenario, and that in fact the scenario was developed working backwards from the desire to make US citizenship more exclusive."

Exactly. There have been several unsuccessful attempts in the last few years to introduce legislation to chip away at birthright citizenship; this just seems like a desperate attempt to gain public support for a possible Constitutional amendment.

I'm reminded of this tangentially related but hilarious video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u3Ax8UQ9ac

Rache BartmossJune 29, 2010 12:19 PM

I don't know.. babies are prone to dropping ten megaton blasts from time to time.

SnallaBolagetJune 29, 2010 12:46 PM

@PLH - I might be a hack, but I don't think I'm much of an alarmist.
What I tried to say, and what I've tried to explain several times both on my own site and in my (few) comments on this site (which jacks my hitrate with about 5 visitors...) is that proclaiming something as "stupid" or unimaginable, impossible or unthinkable, or whatnot else before actually looking at the matter, and making an informed assessment of it is European 1930's thinking. And we all know how that went.

Point is, yes I have a problem with Bruce and some of the things he says, since he persists in making himself out to be an expert in fields he absolutely does not have qualifications in, and I'm not the only one who thinks that either. Problem is, I'm the only one stupid enough to actually comment here and try to get some answers out of the man from time to time. No one should be afraid of a challenge.

In the case of the baby terrorists - I don't think that's a particularly practical plan. Or likely one, for that matter. What I do think is that even though long-term strategies doesn't fit the terrorist model in many cases, we are still talking a decade or so of planning for 9/11, for example. All I'm saying is that no one should assume anything - as anyone with a mom prone to proverbs will know; "Assume makes an ass out of U and Me".

Nick LancasterJune 29, 2010 1:07 PM

@peri:

Regarding 'the baby is not raised in the U.S.' - prudent security measures to vet a citizen who has spent extended time abroad are well and good.

Where Rep. Gomert takes the sharp right turn into stupid is when he suggests that this is the logical outgrowth of birthright citizenship, that we'll be hip deep in sleeper agents and spies.

In which case we should forget the waterboarding and start asking that tried-and-true trick question of who won the World Series in 19--? That tripped up the Nazis in the movies all the time.

AnonJune 29, 2010 1:27 PM

Why is it assumed that the process must end in suicide? Do others not see the inherent weakness/risks associated with "anchor baby policy"? Perhaps in the context of this post, my comment lacks preciscion and is therefore off topic. (?) Long-term strategies DO pose a risk for nations, and that includes the U.S., but perhaps (as others have stated) the of original article is a bit hysterical in tone.

I'm all for immigration through proper and intelligent processes, but the U.S. policy in this area (children born here to non-citizens becoming U.S. citizens) is absurd IMO.

SomeDumbGuyJune 29, 2010 2:32 PM

First off, I'm not defending how smart or stupid the initial idea was, but...

Angel One said:
"As a side note, does anyone know of a single person who successfully raised a child to pursue the exact path in life that the parents wanted? How about a teenager that listened to everything his parents said, to the point of being willing to commit suicide just because they said so? Anyone? Anyone? Thank you - the defense rests."

Ummm... Mormons seem to do a pretty decent job. Sure they get the occasional strays, but they've only grown in numbers.

It's a little ridiculous to assume you can't raise a child with a specific ideology that they'll keep to adulthood. The idea is that these kids will be raised outside of the United States. Your point of view is from being raised INSIDE the United States: where we have freedoms and laws protecting us, where we have media and information at our fingertips (even when we didn't have the internets/tubes), where we have shopping malls and distractions and toys and WAY more crap to want or worry about than ideology. That is not the case all over the world.

Davi OttenheimerJune 29, 2010 2:55 PM

The real problem, when you look at cells like al Qaeda, is the ability of militaristic groups to abscond with undereducated and orphaned youth into training camps. A mother who raises a child in a foreign country would be the diametric opposite from their base.

Take for example how Islamic-based orphanages in the 80s thought they were working with generous benefactors who offered a new life to kids, but it is now known the extremists recruit for combat and suicide missions. The orphanages shut them out once they realized the truth.

The comment on "raised and coddled as terrorists" is therefore actually very prescient, but it should tell politicians how important social services and support are to fight terrorism. When
basic education and healthcare is missing from communities, when homes are broken and kids are left to drift, that is when the risk of conversion to a threat is high.

Treating kids from foreign mothers as outsiders and aliens, ignoring their need for integration into society, and labeling them as a threat, like Congressman Louie Gohmert seems to advocate is what Texans call bass-ackwards thinking.

Don HydeJune 29, 2010 3:10 PM

Let's see -- Recipe for a Terrorist

Unemployed, no hope for a job -- check
Debt up to the eyeballs and no hope of paying -- check
Mad as hell from listening to talk radio -- check
US citizenship -- check
Unregistered firearms from a convenient Texas gunshow -- check

Who needs Arabs? We got all we need right here and more every day.

Rogue MedicJune 29, 2010 3:49 PM

Aren't the right wing nuts and left wing nuts doing enough to destroy our Constitution without any help from immigrants?

Maybe Gohmert would prefer some old fashioned immigration. The immigrants kill those living where they want to live. Immigration the way it was meant to be. ;-)

Rep. Gomer (R-TX)June 29, 2010 7:50 PM

"When basic education and healthcare is missing from communities, when homes are broken and kids are left to drift, that is when the risk of conversion to a threat is high."

I IS SICK N TIRED OF YOU POINTY-HEDED INTELLEKSHUALS ALWAYS TAKING MY XCELENT ANTI-MIGRANT TALKIN POINTS & TURNING THEM AGIN MY SMALL-GOVT, KNOW-NOTHING FILOZOFY. IT HAPENS ALL THE TIME & I HATES IT. WHEN YOU GETS DONE BLOWED UP BY A BABY TERRORIST ILL BE LAFFIN.

srsJune 29, 2010 8:55 PM

Hm, a more (slightly) credible threat might be to use legions of pregnant women, have them abandon the babies in the US, overburdening the social welfare systems, and bankrupting the whole country. Actually this supports his anti-naturalization fear mongering thread even better, I think...

JamesJune 29, 2010 10:14 PM

The Rep. wants to justify his ideas against anchor babies, illegal immigration,etc so he adds terrorism to the picture since everyone can imagine some impossible scenario and everyone (except terrorists themselves) are against terrorism. So he is able to avoid the real issue by using scare tactics.
The scenario pictured is highly unlikely. Terrorism is highly unlikely by itself. The issue is that any woman can come with a tourist visa and give birth.You have to wait until they're 18 so the parents can get the green card and the child can sponsor them. I think 20 years is too long term for an organization like Al Qaeda. The kid can come much earlier than that of course, but Al Qaeda can't afford to wait that much. Russia, sure in a cold war scenario can take advantage, but terrorism is not usually their style.

Picture a kid in Afghanistan or Pakistan. It's might be hard to ensure 20 years down the line he will still be alive (although pictures and such can be faked) and will be willing to collaborate to basically end his life. Indoctrination is possible but never 100% effective.

Unfortunately the representative has to justify his credentials to his voters. What he says in public might not always be what he knows/thinks is right.

Paul SimonJune 29, 2010 10:24 PM

Even Bin Laden can't make his son a martyr or Jihad, how can that monther?

Besides his weak brain, Gohmert insulted the mother nature big time.

GreenSquirrelJune 30, 2010 5:05 AM

@ peri at June 29, 2010 11:04 AM

No, I had assumed the baby wasnt raised in the US. Taking the child back to jihadistan doesnt help getting it back into the country 20 years later.

@ SnallaBolaget at June 29, 2010 12:46 PM

"Point is, yes I have a problem with Bruce and some of the things he says, since he persists in making himself out to be an expert in fields he absolutely does not have qualifications in,"

Such as? What qualifications are you asking for? Do you need a CPP to assess a body scanner? Do you need a CISSP to determine a network node?

Do you believe that having experience in (for example) information assurance means you have no experience in employee screening or counter terrorist planning?

If so, I beg to differ.

Bruce, like everyone, is not always correct, however 99% of security comes from experience and consideration. He provides that - at least most of the time.

"and I'm not the only one who thinks that either."

Probably not. With over 6bn people on Earth its rare to ever be the only person who thinks something.

That said, having others agree with you does not make you right. Every single person on Earth could think that the planet was flat and it would still be round.

" Problem is, I'm the only one stupid enough to actually comment here and try to get some answers out of the man from time to time."

For that to be true you would need to indulge in a lot of sockpuppetry. Lots of people disagree with Bruce and try to get a response.

Rarely happens but, at least in my experience, the interesting debate is between commenters.

Obviously it would be "nice" if Bruce joined in the debate a bit more but, like most reasonably well known blogs this doesnt happen very often. (PZ Myers is a good example)

If you dont like it, go elsewhere.

"In the case of the baby terrorists - I don't think that's a particularly practical plan. Or likely one, for that matter."

Well we can all agree on that then.

"What I do think is that even though long-term strategies doesn't fit the terrorist model in many cases, we are still talking a decade or so of planning for 9/11, for example."

Well I can agree that there was a significant amount of planning behind the 11 Sept attack. I have no idea if it really was a decade or not.

It is also reasonable to assess that Islamic Jihadists are prepared to play a long game.

None of this supports this attack vector in anyway.


"All I'm saying is that no one should assume anything - as anyone with a mom prone to proverbs will know; "Assume makes an ass out of U and Me". "

Sort of a truism but we make millions and millions of assumptions every day. Everything we do is built around assumptions, occasionally tested but assumptions nontheless.

What are we left with here:

1 - we have a film script terrorist plot that, with cursory contemplation, has enough holes to make it a pointless attack vector.

2 - we have politician with apparent ulterior motives using said plot to advance a political goal unrelated to terrorist threat.

How much time and effort should we spend analysing and debunking this?

Production of fear-based movie-plot terrorist threats is an effective way of running a DOS attack on security professionals. I promise you I can think of more "possible" attacks than you can imagine and in a lot less time than it will take you to analyse and discredit any one of them.

If I then demand any you fail to fully discredit be treated seriously and funded, I can add in the ability to bankrupt a nation.

Wonderful.

I might set up a company to do this. I think DHS has a nice ring to a company name.

Russell CokerJune 30, 2010 5:29 AM

If Islamic terrorist groups were taking 20 year strategic plans, why would they be limiting themselves to children that they brain-wash? Why not send in nutty preachers to start new religious movements in the US? US citizens who have spent all their lives in the US are more difficult in many ways when it comes to law enforcement (for starters it's more difficult to send them to Guantanamo Bay), but can kill people equally well. I know that Islam (like most mono-theistic religions) prohibits such things - but almost everything that Taliban and Al Quaeda groups do goes against Islam.

As for training children to do evil things, the scenario from "The Girl Next Door" is of children being closely watched while doing evil things. If a "terrorist" is to blow themself up while being watched then you might as well pay someone to deliver a parcel without knowing that it has a radio-controlled explosive device - it would be cheap and easy. If someone is to do things reliably without being watched then it's a lot harder to get someone. Even if you control people from when they are babies that's no guarantee that they will be reliable or competent.

The long-term spy programs from the Cold War aimed at much more valuable results than a simple suicide bombing. They wanted the most valuable intelligence from inside large and effective governments. The fact that the best available evidence suggests that the greatest security breaches on both sides during the Cold War were from formerly trustworthy people who became insane or adopted political beliefs that opposed their work.

As an aside, last time I visited the NSA Crypto museum they had some pictures of captured spies. One of them was a guy holding a beer and wearing a T-Shirt saying "KGB is for Me". The photo is implied to date from after the guy started being a traitor but before he was arrested. What makes someone who is betraying his country wear a shirt that advertises the fact? If anyone has some background on that picture then I would really appreciate learning of it.

OPJune 30, 2010 5:34 AM

Or they could skip a lot of rigamarole and simply find US citizens like McVeigh who want to blow up parts of the US for one reason or another.

If we're talking about unnecessarily complex ways the terrorists could game things to create disaster, what if they tried to convince certain folks that their right to own a gun will be taken away soon and get them to go out and start shooing people?

Frankly, it's a lot more plausible than this and they wouldn't have to wait for 20 years.

bacJune 30, 2010 6:34 AM

Rep. Gohmert co-sponsored bill H.R. 1503 in July 29, 2009 that would admend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to include stronger requirements regarding birth certificates for candidates.

Now he is trying the fear mongering ploy to get people to talk about stricter citizenship.

Clearly, this republican was deeply hurt when Obama was voted into office.

dwf58June 30, 2010 6:55 AM

This is the same type of thinking that led to the mass internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. Rather than attacking the US, many Nisei joined the US military. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team (all Nisei) became the most highly decorated unit of similar size and longevity in the history of the US military.

RonKJune 30, 2010 7:11 AM

@ Ad Hominem

Give credit where credit is due! You have to work _real hard_ to be as clueless as Snalla-Bolaget is. For example, the linked blog has a category heading of "Security Theater". What does S-B think that is?

> This category contains information regarding
> "Security Theaters", e.g. airport security
> checkpoints, other checkpoints and major
> installations.

That blog is a security threat to the general public getting concussions from facepalming. Or, perhaps, I have just been taken in by a fantastically talented troll.

Northern SkepticJune 30, 2010 1:23 PM

This whole thing sounds like a modified version of Harlan Coben's novel "Long Lost", in which terrorists use woman as incubators for frozen embryos taken from US fertility clinics -- then they raise the "American looking" kids to be terrorist and suicide bombers in country....

BF SkinnerJune 30, 2010 1:55 PM

baby terrorists no threats
easily seen
they eat only baby carrots
and baby peas

JimFiveJune 30, 2010 4:03 PM

I think it's pretty clear that the long term threat Gohmert is worried about is that the baby will grow up brainwashed in some foreign place (maybe Indonesia or Kenya?) and then come back, go to some liberal college out east, become a community organizer and then become President.

Oh no, wait, it's about terrorism, nm.

(Texas needs better voters)
--
JimFive
(In case you couldn't tell, this post is sarcasm)

BrandonJuly 1, 2010 12:57 AM

He's using this absurd argument to forward his agenda to "secure our borders". But then, no one is suggesting a fence along Canad's border.

alreadyonthelistJuly 1, 2010 9:36 AM

Great example Bruce of the kooky thinking fear inspires. Sounds like another bad movie plot.

OTOH speaking from experience, colicky babies terrorize their parents 24/7.

jacobJuly 1, 2010 10:57 AM

Why wait until they are grown? As any parent could tell you, A baby's diaper could be considered toxic. changing a diaper during a plane flight could trigger some alarm. Right? First we can't bring the formula onboard for the baby, next keep toxic substances from entering plane atmosphere!! cork'em. The bad guys respond with feeding the little ones cabbage and eggs. The adults can join in with beer and pickled eggs. The FDA and OSHA now state that all babies must have a MSDS stuck to their foreheads before being allowed to fly. ;)

Russell CokerJuly 3, 2010 7:31 PM

jacob: If you want to dispense toxic gas on a plane then nothing beats a fart that came from eating Durian fruit. Eat Durian and baked beans at the right time before a flight and you could easily terrorise a plane.

Strong smelling food such as Durian is generally not recommended for babies. But if someone did feed a baby Durian it would make for a really nasty nappy change!

forum poster 2010July 6, 2010 5:37 AM

"they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life"

What is this magic way to destroy our way of life and how long would it take to do so?

I think this kind of unspecific drivel inspires people to project their own unspecific sentiments and misgivings on a group of foreign people.

I doubt any twenty years from now on phantasy child could do as much damage as irresponsible politicans are doing right now.

A tongue in cheek sidenote - if some economic forecasts are correct there will be no need to destroy our way of life in twenty years.
I imagine the descendants of the senator applying for a job in Brazil or Beijing claiming not to be related to the Gohmerts of Texas ;)

jacobJuly 6, 2010 10:43 AM

thanks russell, you gave me a real laugh this morning. mocking ingnorance is great, even if it is my own. BTW, researching UWB, shortwave, etc. I did not know:
1. People can do internet and tv using shortwave. interesting.
2. Ham or SW require a license, I knew that.
3. Conditions for license is that you don't encrypt. Makes sense, I just never thought of it.
4. Refering to russian spy story.
This really seems to be small potatoes as far as a bust is concerned. As Bruce has said. If they are out to get you, you are screwed.
Question: what about using UWB? Maybe for a media server???
Take care

AbeJuly 6, 2010 3:25 PM

Congressman Louie Gohmert may be onto something. After all, if the Native Americans had a better immigration policy, he wouldn't be here!

DanielJuly 15, 2010 5:19 AM

The pathetic and tragic thing about Gohmert's argument, is that it starts from the assumption that the US is a very easy place for someone to grow up hating. Once you start from that proposition, then I suppose the ability for certain types of people to breed, becomes your 'problem', since, if they breed, there'll be more of them to hate you.

Somewhere in all of this reasoning, there is supposed to be some sort of "way of life", that is worth preserving, but I lost track of what that was supposed to be... I'm not sure if it was after we started talking about setting up breeding programs of our own, or slightly before the possibility of using jet bombers to drop sterilizing gas on people was raised...

KenJuly 15, 2010 9:39 AM

This has already occurred. How do you think they were able to plant Obama into the presidency in order to destroy America!

DanielJuly 22, 2010 12:24 PM

They can more easily kidnap children or newborns and take them away to training camps.

ArowAugust 9, 2010 10:10 PM

As if these comments were made with the absolute belief that each child cannot think for themself... As if Adam And Eve's CHOICES had no bearing on the outcome...

Really?

Arow

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