Friday, August 11, 2006

Was Disaster Only Barely Averted? Did We Snatch Hope From the Jaws of Despair? Doesn't Look Like It. A Rumination on the Neverending War on Terror

Is anyone else even slightly dubious about this latest terror plot?

When the Brits made the arrests yesterday morning, the details of the plot were reported as though we'd only just escaped a terrible fate. Twenty-six arrests were made in England, all of them alleged terrorists who intended to take liquid explosives on 10 jetliners, assemble bombs on-board and then detonate them in a synchronized fashion over the Atlantic -- a terrorist action that would have killed about as many people as died on September 11th. As a result, we can no longer take liquids on-board planes and now we're all trembling and afraid to fly, fresh meat for a floundering Bush administration who's supply of Boogeymen has gotten perilously low, what with a thousand Al Qaeda Number Two men captured or killed, Musawi dead and photographed, Saddam on trial and fasting intermittantly, and Osama all but forgotten about. Now we have a new domestic terror cell Boogeyman, so, of course, civil liberties will take another hit, Republicans will have something to run on in November, etc, and progressive foreign policy, that is practical, real world diplomacy, seems farther and farther away. Bad news all around.

Except, we discover that the plot was never going to happen.

The more we find out about British law enforcement's investigation into these guys, the urgency of the reports that came out yesterday seem less and less appropriate. The Brits had been investigating these guys for months and months. The original tip that led them to the plot happened in July 2005. A British intelligence officer actually INFILTRATED this terror cell. Yes, according to British officials, these guys were going to do their dry run today, and then do the real thing next week. But the reason they got so close to doing so was because the British who were conducting the investigation wanted to wring out as much intel out of these guys as possible before the end. When they found out they were getting close to carrying out their plan, they went in. (Ed. note: it was just reported on that the brilliant coded message that came through to the wouldbe plane bombers was "Do your attacks now." Obviously the best terrorists money can buy.)

No one on any planes were in any danger from these 26 guys because they were tightly monitored. British investigators even followed one of them all the way to Pakistan to see who he was meeting with there. They have that guy locked up now, too. These guys provided a treasure trove of intelligence on other Al Qaeda bastards located throughout the world -- so it was in the British's best interest to keep surveilling them for as long as possible, until the execute order came, and then British police mosied up to the door. As far as I can tell, the panic British and American authorities created throughout the world was entirely unnecessary. They had a hunch that if this cell had been activated to do this plot, then it might stand to reason that there might be other cells with similar orders. Or might it have been something less honest?

I don't want to sound like one of the paranoid cranks who think controlled demolitions brought down the Twin Towers, but don't I have a right to be dubious of these guys? Don't Bush and Co. periodically come out with these "terrorist plots" meant to evoke fear in the hearts of voters around election time? Like the so-called terrorists who were planning to fly planes into the Sears Tower, even though they were Christian and only one of them had ever been to Chicago? At the time, this was touted by Gonzales as a legitimate threat, though now it's clear that it wasn't a legitimate threat by a damn sight. Wasn't there also something about planes flying into the USBank building in Los Angeles? But then Bush seemed to get the particulars wrong, like calling it the tallest building west of the Mississippi, when it isn't, and then calling it by the wrong name, almost as though they neocon crew had made the whole thing up and couldn't keep their facts straight when pressed on the particulars? Even newly conservative Canada got into the act, talking about the bullshit artists who were allegedly planning a round of assassinations which would culminate with a no doubt very dramatic beheading of the Canadian prime minister. Also touted as a serious plot. I could go through the other lies of the people in charge to get us to think a certain way, to vote a certain way, but we've been through all of that. But is it paranoid for me to suspect something similar going on here?

What does seem different about this plot is the seriousness of the terrorists involved. They were organized, well-financed, and willing to die, which was not always the case with these other so-called plots. These Islamo-fascists are scary people. But the fear-mongering I'm seeing in this country from our public officials, the almost palpable delight in the faces of media people that finally, something really bad and really serious was in the offing, makes me think that what was a serious but foiled-from-the-getgo plot was exploited by the rightwing governments and opportunistic politicians in both countries for full terror impact so as to remind everyone why they were afraid in the first place, and, more importantly, why they were voting Republican or Conservative.

Governors calling the National Guard into our civilian airports? What, so everyone can see their M16s? Are they expecting a busload of terrorists to park in front of the skycaps and bumrush the Delta terminal? Why aren't our officials preaching calm? Why aren't they touting ad nauseum how great it was that our police forces and intelligence services did their job and caught up with some bad folks that were about to do a bad thing, but were stopped? Instead we see a raising of the color-coded terror chart to red for Transatalantic flights (doesn't red mean imminent? Wouldn't they STOP all Transatlantic flights if an attack were imminent? Isn't the red level complete bullshit?), raise our country's "threat level" to the 2nd highest, orange. They don't work to calm us all down, tell us how to work with the new flying guidelines, because they do much better with a fearful and thus malleable electorate. This is not a new concept, but doesn't it serve as a useful template for these cynical idealogues currently in power? Doesn't it help bring everything into perspective, because those who are supposed to be responsible leaders certainly aren't. As mad as I am at these suicidal Al Qaeda bastards for wanting to kill innocent civilians for Allah and their virgins, I'm mad at the Bushies who will exploit this well-averted crime for their own political ends. Didn't the media learn the first time what Bush and Co. will do? Why is there no skepticism?

To wrap up this diatribe, I'll say this: What's clear is that the Republicans have a strategy for dealing with terrorists like these. It's called endless war and it's a bullshit, unworkable option, though none of them are able to see that because they enjoy showing the mujahadeen who's boss with their bombs. So what is the the Democratic strategy? What should be the Progressive strategy for dealing with terrorism? Actually, nevermind political labels. How do we get these people to stop hating us so much they'd die to kill us, and if that's not workable, how do we protect ourselves from people who will gladly murder themselves if it means murdering us, too? Can we protect ourselves? If George Carlin is right, and I think he is, that security is an illusion, than should we even bother with these so-called security measures?

Anyway, enjoy your non-air-travelling weekends.


harwell said...

Well written piece, Crane. I hadn't followed this whole event very closely because nothing actually happened, so I appreciate the breakdown, biased though it may be. The argument makes sense. Fear equals votes for these guys. One of the problems I see is the irony that this sort of elevated terror threat discourages travel which ends up hurting the economy which ends up screwing us all - though apparently that's not as important as keeping us safe from RC Cola bombs. Speaking of, has anyone heard if they're no longer serving drinks on flights? Or are those safe and it's just the carry-on liquids? And why would they not allow books? What the crap was that all about?

Anyway, it's all very interesting. Unfortunately, I think the answer to getting the Islamo-extremists to stop hating us is to stop supporting Israel's right to exist. And that's a whole other can of worms...

blankfist said...

"than should we even bother with these so-called security measures?"

It's "then", dude. How many times do I have to ride you on this? Anyhow, great stuff. I totally agree with you here. It's shameless use of fear all the way, and it works... well. I was just talking about this yesterday, how this idea of "freedom" that we're working so hard to protect and spread throughout the world has left our real freedoms a forgotten end to this myopic misdirection. We've become a police state and our airports have fallen to near martial law - and this is get us to slowly tolerate their upping our compulsory dose of policing. I don't feel safer with more cops. I don't feel safer with the National Guard in our airports. I don't feel safer when the gvernment gets too big and takes away our own right to protect ourselves, but instead insists they know better how to protect us. If Katrina was any indicator, we know where the government will be when the proverbial shit really hits the fan. Sure, 9/11 showed how selfless cops and firemen could be, but I think Katrina showed how they can fall victim to the human condition like the rest of us. That is, they're human. Humans with badges, guns and control of us. Flawed, emotional humans who control us. You think if the big earthquake hits in LA, all these rich neighborhoods will be so glad they gave up their guns for police protection? You think LAPD will be here to protect and serve if it were a disaster as big as Katrina? Nah.

It truly is an illusion of safety. Carlin was right. And, our founding fathers were very clear about not letting big brother become big brother. Government is supposed to be small brother. It's supposed to be of, for and by, but we look to them as if they're a different body altogether. As if they're no longer of, for and by, but some sort of magical entity sent here to protect us. I know you think a government can work well, Crane, but I will always disagree with you here. Maybe when the government is small and focuses on domestic issue, then maybe they can work well.

Anyhow, sorry for the long post, but yeah I agree with you here.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not - this is an excellent perspective into parapolitics and what might be a likely scenerio.

Webster Tarpley wrote this last year.

Some other websites of former Intelligence people gone renegade are Wayne Madsen who is the latest Upton Sinclair of muckracking.

Information about Operation gladio - Europe's stay behind units...

Amazing for state terror.


Craig Moorhead said...

Bingo, Crane. Bingo. Don't know why this didn't jump to the front of my brain sooner. The first day I heard about what almost happened, it was scary. Then after about a week of hearing how much things will be different now and the aftermath of this event, it really started to hit me -- nothing happened. They're talking like the towers fell again but nothing happened. Apparently they also stopped two men who bought lots of cell phones who were going to blow up a bridge in Detroit. And the media is still talking about it. But... nothing happened.

Hey, great police work, no doubt about it. But it's not like we've won the war.

Fear = votes, for sure.