Sunday, June 25, 2006

Coming Unglued

Here's a question on the "flypaper strategy" a competent reporter might ask President Bush at the next opportunity, or Tony Snow at Monday's press gaggle: "This administration often claims that we're fighting in Iraq so we won't have to fight terrorists here. In light of the arrests of seven men in Miami for allegedly planning domestic terrorism and seeking ties to al-Qaeda, why has the war in Iraq failed to make us safer here despite your promise that it would do so?"

Take it away, Carl Cameron....

16 Comments:

Anonymous Jeremy said...

This wasn't a serious plot. Frankly it has shades of entrapment in it (dark shades). These men had no gun, bombs (whatever)they just had the intent.

6/25/2006 3:14 AM  
Anonymous Antonie said...

Intent is good enough for me. Ideally, there shouldn't be any one on our soil even thinking about terrorist attacks, right?

Of course, the timing was excellent for the Republican election strategy to stir up fear and the whole security debate.

TCR's question is to the point and the perfect counter-argument in the debate.

6/25/2006 9:13 AM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

Wrong problem, TCR. The fact that there has been no serious terror incident on U.S. soil since 9/11 is the crowning achievement (so far) of this administration. Ignoring this smacks of the agenda-ism, buddy.

6/25/2006 1:30 PM  
Anonymous nil said...

Jeremy, curious you mention that because up here in Canada some have raised similar questions of entrapment about the arrest of terrorists earlier this month. 17 people were arrested, but 5 of them were minors and all but two were 25 or less. So far it looks like they were amateurs. They say entrapment because these guys were being monitored by the CSIS for months if not years, and it was the RCMP that delivered the ammonium nitrate that triggered their arrest. I am not saying that these guys were innocent, obviously they were up to no good, and I am glad the police was watching them and arrested them. But a) if this is the worst Al Qaeda can do, then Canada is not facing an existential threat from radical Islam. It's a threat, it is real, but it's police work and looks like the police has a handle on it. It's not the threat to the very existence of the country as we know it that some decry in the more paranoid band of the political spectrum that insists on a military response. And b) these guys were apparently quiet students, not hardened criminals or Afghanistan veterans. They could be roused to (so far ineffectual) anger because any bearded loony can show them videos of Infidels bombing muslim countries, videos of the bodies piling up JUST LIKE BIN LADEN SAID.

Now to Cunning Realist: you might want to have a look at this. This report titled Stealing Al-Qa'ida's Playbook comes from two guys at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. They have been analyzing Al-Qa'ida's strategic thinking. Here is how Abu Bakr Naji, one of the ideologues of the movement, sees things:
The jihadi movement had been unsuccessful in the past because the superpowers propped up these proxy governments and convinced the masses through the media that they were invincible. The solution, Naji says, is to provoke a superpower into invading the Middle East directly. This will result in a great propaganda victory for the jihadis because the people will 1) be impressed that the jihadis are directly fighting a superpower, 2) be outraged over the invasion of a foreign power, 3) be disabused of the notion that the superpower is invincible the longer the war goes on, and 4) be angry at the proxy governments allied with the invading superpower. Moreover, he argues, it will bleed the superpower's economy and military. This will lead to social unrest at home and the ultimate defeat of the superpower."

So here is the (rhetorical) question I would like to ask: is the administration aware that responding to the threat of fundamentalist Islam by occupying muslim countries is playing into Al-Qaeda's hands [as described by Jarret Brachman & William McCants in Stealing Al-Qa'ida's Playbook, published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point]? In the light of its results so far, that include providing jihaddists with targets, training and ideological ammunition they would never have otherwise, throwing one country into social collapse where religious nutbar militias rule the streets (say, this, or Khalilzad's now famous embassy memo) and radicalizing the muslim youth in western countries, will it reconsider its strategy? Is there anything that would make it reconsider its Iraq strategy, or do they have an ideologue's commitment to it in spite of what's now been 3 years of steady deterioration of the situation on the ground?

6/25/2006 1:43 PM  
Anonymous wendy said...

My feeling aboutt he Miami "plot" is that it was the designated smokescreen du jour to bury the administration's bank snooping article.

It reminds me of when John Ashcroft did his press conference in Russia about Padilla or the Shoe Bomber to bury the scandalous story that was breaking out around then. There have been so many, I have lost count of that partiuclar one.

Since they have 86ed the color coded "terror" alerts, expect more and more of these "cells" between now and November.

6/25/2006 2:26 PM  
Blogger Jay C said...

Umm - TCR: I'm not sure the Administration is really going to want to push the Seas of David "terrorist"-bust story all that hard: apparently, this dastardly cell consists of a handful of unemployed bozos led by a local nutcase street-preacher type - and with the G's case reeking of entrapment, besides.
I agree with Wendy above: this is just another PR "opportunity" for the Administration: a big noise made about routing the heinous terrorist plot: and its embarrassing lack-of-import swept under the media's rug next week.

6/25/2006 4:38 PM  
Blogger phillybikeboy said...

Antonie,
"there shouldn't be any one on our soil even thinking about terrorist attacks" So you advocate the concept of _thought crime_? There is a huge difference between thinking about doing something, and taking action in the direction of doing it. Sure, I may have (on a rare occasion) thought of banging Posh Spice, but that does not make me David Beckham. If you're going to start putting people in prison for what they're thinking of, you better start building more and more and more prisons right now.

On the broader topic: my sister used to live in Liberty City, and some of my youth was wasted in that neighborhood. The thing that is hard to fathom is how you could find any seven males there that didn't own guns. It's inconcievable! Everyone there was packing. When you figure these guys were either too poor or stupid--maybe both--to get guns in one of the most gun-infested neighborhoods in one of the most gun-infested cities, in one of the most gun-infested states in the union....well....how dangerous could they be? It begs the question of why DoJ, with a man inside the operation didn't keep things going? It SOP for law enforcement to let things play out and sweep up any bigger fish the investigation may encounter. Why not keep these guys going, and find out exactly who is willing to sell arms and supplies to, or finance, or in any way aid potential terrorists? Then they'd be doing some good, right? So why bust the operation when they had no plan or means, and posed no real threat? Because it's not about making us safer here at home. It's about making us more fearful here at home. Fear has worked for Bush for the last five years, and he's not going to change now.

6/25/2006 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a good question. And it will never be asked, of course.

6/25/2006 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Antonie said...

Phillybikeboy,

I'm not advocating the concept-of-thought crime whatsoever. I'm just saying that there is something fundamentally wrong when some people, U.S. citizens, find it necessary to declare jihad on their own country. Where did they go wrong; where did the country go wrong for them? I would like to know the answer to that question.

6/25/2006 9:52 PM  
Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

What happens when 6 disenfranchised Haitian-American Catholic kids from Miami do karate and jumping jacks in a rusty warehouse, and toy with the idea of converting to Islam?

Well, they may rapidly find themselves behind bars pending trial for “terrorist activities”: Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez calls them a “dangerous Islamic army rising in our midst” no less!

In this, Gonzalez, the architect of Abu Ghraib, is true to the major tenets of the “Bush doctrine”: persecute innocent bogeymen while sucking up to the Saudi paymasters of Islamic terror and their numerous friends for sale inside the GOP and the Pentagon.

In essence, Bush and Gonzalez are re-importing inside the American homeland the practices they’ve experimented in Iraq, a formerly secular Arab country where they made a point of arresting and torturing Westernized Christian and Sunni Baath party bureaucrats while they deliberately brought to power pro-Iranian Islamic terrorists!

Once again I wonder if the Bush administration is doing everything it can to best ensure OBL’s victory…

6/26/2006 5:45 AM  
Blogger phillybikeboy said...

Is there "something fundamentally wrong" with America--or any country--when people "find it necessary to declare jihad on their own country"? I don't think so. History is chock full of instances of the disenfranchised (or those who percieve themselves to be) acting out their displeasure. A few examples....the Green Corn Rebellion, the Bonus Army, the ongoing Christian Identity Movement, and a little thing called the Confederacy. It doesn't mean they're right or wrong, or that the nation is. It's just that they disagree, and can't see a better way to achieve their desired end. It's just part of the process.

6/26/2006 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thirdeye dijo: The fact that there has been no serious terror incident on U.S. soil since 9/11 is the crowning achievement (so far) of this administration. Ignoring this smacks of the agenda-ism, buddy.

Jack: Why are you snapping your fingers all the time, John?

John: It keeps the tigers away.

Jack: Tigers don't live around here, John.

John: See how well it's working?

6/26/2006 11:11 AM  
Anonymous wendy said...

Spot on!

6/26/2006 6:05 PM  
Anonymous George said...

antonie said: I'm just saying that there is something fundamentally wrong when some people, U.S. citizens, find it necessary to declare jihad on their own country. Where did they go wrong; where did the country go wrong for them?

To add a bit to phillybikeboy's comments, remember in the early 90's, it seemed like the country was awash in right-wing militias. Their star crashed around the time our own home grown jihadi Tim McVeigh decided to wage war on a day care center in Oklahoma. Where did the country go wrong for them? Probably the same way it went wrong for the Liberty City kids: The effects of globalization on a not-highly educated young male populace, combined with charismatic religious nuts. When young men feel like they have a future, they don't tend to blow stuff up. This is probably as true in the Middle East as it is in Oklahoma or Miami.

6/26/2006 10:35 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

It is necessary for the govenment to place fear in the hearts and minds of the citizens in order to maintain its agenda. Anything that smacks of terrorism to maintain the "mandate".

6/27/2006 10:24 AM  
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