Monday, June 04, 2007

The Furthest Thing From Their Minds?

The arrest of the alleged JFK Airport plotters was obviously good news, regardless of the plan's feasibility or the state of their operational competence. Predictably, some cite it as proof that the Bush administration's strategy for national security has succeeded in the six years since 9/11. In the Democrats' debate over the weekend, the first question asked of the candidates was the following:
Just yesterday, the FBI arrested three men for a terror plot at JFK Airport. Could it be that the Bush administration's effort to thwart terror at home has been a success?
We know that the current rationale for the occupation of Iraq is that we're "safer" because of it. If that's indeed true, then it's reasonable to ask how, if at all, the various plots prevented during the past few years comport with that rationale. I've read the news reports and criminal complaints for each case including the JFK Airport, Ft. Dix, and Miami warehouse busts. The government has miles of informant reports, monitored emails, and surveillance audiotapes in these cases.

Unless I missed something, there's not one mention of Iraq anywhere.

How plausible is that? Are these alleged plots happening in a vacuum? Was Iraq the furthest thing from the minds of those arrested? No mention of Iraq ever, in any email, in any conversation, on any audiotape? (Cue talking point: yes, they hate us for our way of life as we learned on 9/11.) In the Ft. Dix case, the word "Iraq" is conspicuous for its absence -- especially considering the extremely detailed allegations of conversations between the suspects. From page nine (PDF file here):
On or about July 29, 2006, CW-2 consensually recorded a meeting with MOHAMAD SHNEWER, DRITAN DUKA, ELJVIR DUKA, and SHAIN DUKA. During the meeting, SHNEWER showed CW-2 a number of videos on SHNEWER's laptop which depicted armed attacks on and the killing of United States military personnel.
And this, from page 20:
CW-1 captured SHNEWER playing videos on his laptop computer which members of the group referred to as Mujahideen and terrorist training videos. Members of the group pointed out that United States military vehicles were shown being destroyed in various attacks.
Where did these attacks on U.S. troops take place? If in Afghanistan, is it safe to assume the complaint would have noted that?

And from page 22:
When CW-2 asked about TATAR again, DRITAN DUKA remarked, "He had only one mind, how to kill American soldiers." Later during the consensually recorded conversation, DRITAN DUKA and SHAIN DUKA said that rather than waging jihad overseas, they could do so in the United States.
Waging jihad "overseas"? Does that sound like something the suspects would have said? Again, it's almost as if someone took great care to make sure "Iraq" didn't appear anywhere.

The criminal complaint in the JFK plot is also interesting. From page eight (PDF file here):
On or about August 1, 2006, the Source met DEFREITAS at a store in Brooklyn and drove DEFREITAS to his residence. During a discussion of the war then taking place in Lebanon, DEFREITAS and the Source agreed that Muslims always incur the wrath of the world while Jews get a 'pass'....Later in the conversation, DEFREITAS said that while it appeared that only Arab Muslims were fighting the war for Islam, many other nationalities of Muslims were involved in the fight as well.
Lebanon? On August 1, 2006, the date of that alleged conversation, the fighting in Lebanon had been underway for only two weeks. Defreitas was motivated not by Iraq but by a short conflict in which the U.S. wasn't directly involved?

Remember who runs these cases and decides what information to include in the criminal complaints: the Department of Justice, headed by Alberto Gonzales. These complaints do not pretend to be complete; the one that details the Ft. Dix case states that it "is submitted for the sole purpose of establishing probable cause" and does "not necessarily include each and every fact known by the government concerning this investigation." And only five words appear on page three: "Contents Approved/United States Attorney."

You can probably guess the next question. If any of those arrested in the various plots had discussed Iraq as motivation, would the public hear about it? What would it mean for the flypaper/fighting them over there/"if we leave they'll follow us here" rationale? And what would it betray about the real effect of Iraq on our security?

The whole facade would come crashing down, wouldn't it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't answer the door.

6/04/2007 2:26 PM  
Blogger Luneau Atheist said...

There are now multiple articles describing how Iraq is being used as a terrorist training ground (sort of an intern program for bombers), and how that knowledge is now being exported. We've known that to be the case in Afghanistan for years.

Yet another f***-up by this administration.

6/04/2007 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, of course, we would never have the threat of terrorism if not for this Iraq situation. Before that, we were widely loved in the Muslim world.

6/04/2007 3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has a familiar pattren to recent arrests. A informant convinces some losers wanna be to talk about imaginary plots and it becomes headline all over the world. Orwell was right.

6/04/2007 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, the whole facade would come crashing down for the 28-percenters who still swallow it (hello, anonymous @ 3:18)

6/04/2007 3:37 PM  
Blogger Undeniable Liberal said...

we are fightin' them there so we can be scared shitless here.

6/04/2007 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the background of the US Attorney for Brooklyn, who's handling the JFK case?

Was she on any of the termination lists? If not, why not?

How did the Rovian hacks rate her?

I think we can pretty much expect these 'plots' to be announced more and more frequently until the Giuliani/Cheney ticket takes office. :O

6/04/2007 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pop quiz: Why are Al Qaeda-inspired terrorists motivated by US occupation of Iraq, to the extent that they are?

A - Because if the US is driven out, Al Qaeda will be able to prevent the country's domination by the Shiites, who in Qaeda/Salafist theology are hated even more than the US or Jews. (And therefore, a sustained US presence in Iraq is a mandatory part of the war on terror.)
B - To "liberate" Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq from both the hated Americans and Shiites. (And therefore, a sustained US presence in Iraq is a mandatory part of the war on terror.)
C - To establish a secure operating base in Iraq. (And therefore, a sustained US presence in Iraq is a mandatory part of the war on terror.)
D - These are difficult questions which spoil my simplistic cheap shot against a lame duck Administration. Please let me keep wallowing in my happy narcisscism until Bush leaves, because I know in my heart all our problems will go away after that. Right?
E - All of the above.

6/04/2007 8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm confused. I thought Congressman Murtha already determined that the terrorist plot was a direct result of U.S. troops being in Iraq?

I am certain I read on Daily Kos that "Bush is creating more terrorism" by fighting terrorists in Iraq.

Bush was right when he said: "You don't create terrorism by fighting it, you invite terrorism by ignoring it." We must remain vigilant and we must stay on offense.

6/05/2007 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, 3:18 and 8:13. What are the odds.

I love the familiar "kill em all and let (insert deity here) sort them out" attitude.

6/05/2007 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:18: Is terrorism an either/or proposition? Do we either have terrorism or don't? Or is it a matter of degree? Can there be more terrorism or less terrorism? If so, is it possible that our current actions in Iraq have made more people want to act violently towards us? Or do you think that just as many people hate us now as before? If so, I would be curious as to your reasoning.

Anonymous 8:13: I am not sure what Congressman Murtha has determined. But your quote from Bush is interesting. Do you think how we fight terrorism makes a difference in our success? Do you think some actions would be more effective than others? If so, do you think that invading a country and destroying it's government and infrastructure without a way to replace either one is the most effective way to combat terrorism? If so, why? Do you think winning "hearts and minds" is important in the fight against terrorism? Do you think we are doing that?

Finally, to wja, here are my answers to your pop quiz:

A - Al Qaeda is not capable of preventing the Shia from taking over. The Shia represent the vast majority in the country and Al Qaeda makes up only 5-7% of the people we are fighting. So they do not have the numbers or the influence to defeat the Shia. So a sustained US presence is not necessary for that reason.

B - They may want to "liberate" Sunni areas, but, again, they have neither the numbers or political influence. So our presence is not required for that reason either.

C - By this time it is clear that neither A, B or C is likely to come to pass because Al Qaeda does not have the capability nor the support in country to do any of these things. I believe there is a misconception at work here. Al Qaeda is not a monolithic organization with an extensive command and control structure. Even before we went into Afghanistan, and especially afterwards, Al Qaeda has been as much a propaganda outfit as an organized fighting force. They are a franchise, but local affiliates are independently owned and operated. I could get a bunch of people together here and identify myself to the media as "Al Qaeda in Boston", and Bush could claim that Al Qaeda had infiltrated the USA. But would they have? See how this works? Osama bin laden is not Blofeld and Al Qaeda is not SPECTRE. We don't help by traeting them as though they are.

D - These are indeed difficult questions which spoil your simplistic view of the world as us vs. them, good vs. bad. You may continue to wallow in your jingoism until bin Laden is dead, because you know in your heart all our problems will go away after that. Right?

E - all of the above indeed.

6/05/2007 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incidentally, it really helps to read what bin Laden has said and written. He has told us why he is upset with us, and it has nothing to do with our Freedom (please do not construe this statement as my agreeing with him, or endorsing his actions; I do not). But more importantly in this context, he has laid out his strategy. He has said that all he needs to do is send a couple of mujahideen somewhere to make a threat and America comes rolling in like a bull in a china shop; breaking things and pissing people off. It costs him little and us quite a bit in lives, resources and good will. It is political jujitsu. He is using our own strength against us. He is baiting us and we are taking it. Over the past six years (and longer, really) we have done much more damage to ourselves than terrorists ever could. This is his plan, and it is working. He is laughing at us now. I wish more people would understand this.

6/05/2007 12:49 PM  
Blogger Luneau Atheist said...

So, on the way to rationalizing terrorist motives, if not acts, maybe you could address who the terrorists are actually killing and why.

The problem in Iraq is the definition of "terrorist". AQ makes up a very small proportion of those involved in the attacks and has less of an impact than the Bushies would lead you to believe. Most of those doing the killing are locals, hence the appropriate term "civil war".

6/06/2007 1:38 PM  
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