So a new terror plot has been foiled. Or so I'm supposed to believe. I'm sorry, but I just have a hard time buying it. When an administration has been as dishonest as this one has, when an administration has cried wolf as many times as this one has, and when the British government has been this in bed with our administration, it's a little difficult to take them seriously.
Why release this information now, right before midterm elections? Why is this threat serious enough to raise the terror alert to red for the first time ever, but not serious enough for the President to return from his vacation? Why is it that liquid explosives are now suddenly a threat, even though they were suspected in the foiled 1995 plot to blow up U.S. airplanes? Why has it been safe to bring liquids on planes for the past five years? And why is it that I'm supposed to believe George Bush can keep me safe, when it was George Bush who was asleep at the wheel five years ago?
I don't mean to suggest that there wasn't a plot to blow up planes, or that people don't want to blow up planes. But all these busted terror cells and terror plots and terror alerts do seem to happen at convenient times.
The crawl on MSNBC Thursday night read Terror in the Sky: Mass Murder on an Unimaginable Scale! Well, no; and I mean no to everything.
There is no terror in the sky, unless you're Iraqi or Lebanese, or reside in northern Israel or any of the world's other free-fire zones and might expect to see death fall from it. Or unless we can include the sky itself, churning with strange weather and unwholesome artifacts, and a sun that now seems to burn an alien white. Because if we look up, we may just catch our breath.
The mass murder never was, and the unimaginable scale! was imagined more than ten years ago, and given the name Project Bojinka. Substitute the Pacific for the Atlantic, and toss in the assassination of the Pope and the crashing of a plane into CIA headquarters for good measure, and you have a thwarted operation that's earned its exclamation point. But 2006 isn't 1995, and today citizens of the great crusader nations must be reminded, repeatedly and at the pleasure of their minders, just how vulnerable they are, and therefore dependent upon the same dark mills of empire that intentionally exacerbate those vulnerabilities.
"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," boasts a naturally unnamed White House official in the AFP story "Bush Seeks Political Gains from Foiled Plot." Bush and Blair conferred last weekend on the "imminent attack" (though neither man was sufficiently moved to break off their vacations), and the White House tooled its response to Joe Lieberman's defeat at the hands of a "far left" cut 'n runner accordingly. The thwarting of the plot (with a man inside, as is the custom in plots both thwarted and unthwarted) became itself a time bomb, rigged to detonate in the faces of populist leaders who even modestly reflect the now conventional wisdom that the war is an abject failure (at least according to how failure is conventionally understood). This would be a reminder and an example that the threat is real, though the threat was no less real - and possibly more real - when Bojinka was foiled in 1995.
Last night on the RI forum, "sunny" wondered "So, if the plot was foiled, why was the terror alert raised? That in itself tells me everything I need to know."
Do I sound as if I don't believe this alert? Why, yes, that would be correct. I just don't believe it. Read the article. They say the plot had an "Al Qaeda footprint." Ooh, are you scared yet? What that really means is that they found NO evidence whatsoever that the plot had anything to do at all with Al Qaeda, but the plot simply made them think "gosh, this is something Al Qaeda would do." That's what a footprint means. Nice, but no cigar.
Were these guys totally innocent? Probably not. But there's no reason to believe they were any more Osama's right-hand than Jose Padilla, the famed dirty-bomber who I think is now only being charged with jay-walking or something. Then there were the famous six Muslim-American guys in New York state, supposedly operating their own al Qaeda cell. Not so much. Or how about the Al Qaeda cell in Florida trying to blow up the Sears Tower? Oh that's right, they were just some demented friends squatting in a warehouse and "thinking" about it. And then there's the famous plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge - with a single blow torch.
Bottom line: Joe Lieberbush lost. The message is spreading across the land that incumbents who embrace the president are in serious trouble. And the Republicans needed to divert attention, to stop this meme in its tracks, and lo' and behold we have our first terror alert that I can recall since the last election, and it's our first ever Red Alert! What a coincidence!
I'd like to not be so sceptical. I really would. But I'm not seeing any reasons not to be. Thoughts?