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On Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol characterized Britain as "a happy ACLU playground for all kinds of both decent dissidents, but also for actual terror sponsors and facilitators." Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer seconded Kristol's snipe at the American Civil Liberties Union and noted that former White House counterterrorism official Steven Simon called London "the 'Star Wars bar scene' of international terrorism." Krauthammer added that the British "have a long tradition, going to Karl Marx, of opening themselves up to revolutionaries. He wrote some of his best stuff in the British Museum." Kristol and Krauthammer made their comments during a Fox News Sunday panel discussion about British Prime Minister Tony Blair's proposed anti-terrorism legislation.
From the August 7 broadcast of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
CHRIS WALLACE (host): British Prime Minister Blair outlined tough new measures this week to crack down on what he called the "fanatical fringe" of the country's 2 million Muslims. Here's just a bit of what he had to say.
BLAIR [video clip]: We're angry about these extremists. We're angry about what they're doing to our country. We're angry about people abusing our good nature and our toleration.
WALLACE: And here are the main proposals behind those tough words: Expand grounds for deporting foreigners; make it a crime to condone terrorism; and close down mosques and bar clerics that foster violence.
Bill Kristol, how important is what Blair is doing, especially given Britain's history of sometimes providing safe harbor for extremists?
KRISTOL: Oh, it's very important. Britain has been a happy ACLU playground for all kinds of both decent dissidents but also for actual terror sponsors and facilitators. And Tony Blair announced last week that after these two attacks, obviously, in July, that this is going to stop. It's a big moment.
Blair was one of the first world leaders, I think, to really grasp what had happened on 9-11 and its implications, that we were in a global war in terror, that we had to transform the Middle East, the whole thing.
The one thing he resisted a little bit, I would say, was understanding the implications for policy at home. He was still a committed liberal, wanted to be tolerant, multicultural, bend over backward not to offend anyone.
I think after the attacks in July, Tony Blair has now gone the next step. And it's impressive. I mean, he's really a guy who thinks about what has happened and internalizes it and now is acting on it.
WALLACE: I mean, how does this compare to the Patriot Act, and could this lead to a new crackdown, more get-tough measures in this country, Charles?
KRAUTHAMMER: I don't think so, because we don't have the kind of wild, open incitement of violence which you have in London, in Britain. I mean, we do not have people out there advocating jihad openly in the streets, openly in publications.
London has become -- "ACLU playground" is one way to put it. One commentator called it the "Star Wars bar scene" of international terrorism.
They have a long tradition, going to Karl Marx, of opening themselves up to revolutionaries. He wrote some of his best stuff in the British Museum. And the jihadists today are writing and broadcasting some of their best stuff around the world out of London.
Britain has really been hopeless on this issue. He talks about the good nature of the Britons. It's been a ridiculous openness.