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 CNN.com 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.