Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bombs Away

I'm afraid that people will say "enough".
I'm afraid that in 2010 people will say,

"Look, it's a new century, a new millennium,

let's turn the page"

--Elie Wiesel

Each man must for himself alone

decide what is right and what is wrong,

which course is patriotic and which isn't.

You cannot shirk this and be a man.

To decide against your conviction is to be

an unqualified and excusable traitor,

both to yourself and to your country

--Mark Twain

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
The Shadow


Our news focuses on the scary bomb threats foiled, but not so much on how they came to be so.

The latest package bombs were exposed to Saudi Authorities by a former Gitmo detainee,
Jabir al-Fayfi, who received religious training upon his release and subsequent reintegration into society, news that the Limbaugh's and Beck's of the world would prefer to sidestep (Cargo plane bomb plot tipoff came from ex-Guantánamo Bay detainee.) The foreign press covered this fact which was not emphasized in the U.S.'s scramble to ring out the message, "Hit again!"

You may say, "So what? One success proves nothing", and you would be correct. But we should at least hear all of the facts, versus the sole story thread that these people are so bad they should rot in prison. Unlike Santa, we don't know who is good or bad, but we can look at violations of international law such as those that have occurred at holding pens like Gitmo and say, that is a bad.

Around the same moment that
al-Fayfi alerted Saudi authorities, former PWOT czar George W. Bush boasted in a television interview that he authorized water boarding because it saved lives. While it is hard to argue with a man of his intellectual stature, it still seems surreal that U.S. courts disallow the accused to enter evidence of possible torture as those details would breech national security, yet the former president confirms his criminal conspiracy on network t.v.

Detaining people in violation of international law is not a solution, but a part of the problem. It is no excuse to say, "I have been sucked into the problem, and so must give tit for tat." Decency and really, simple self-interest (if dignity and safety is the goal) demands a better response. If you tussle with a pig, you will get dirty.
President Bush encouraged us to get down in the dirt.

Coverage of the cargo bombs emphasized that they showed al-Qaeda was now focusing on small-scale attacks, but this is obvious. Terrorists are dynamic, and
al-Qaeda is a deficient operational group that must use low-level diversified small attacks with semi-skilled operators -- it is all they have got.

Small bombs in cargo planes are cheap and effective, even if the bombs do not detonate. The effectiveness is not in the actual explosion; that would be an ancillary benefit.
The effect is in scoring another overreaction, and the continuance of our petrification. Success is counted in the terror wrought via scrolling news coverage and our lust for spectacles.

As David Ignatius wrote in the WaPo:

The greatest damage won't be the attack itself but the public response. The Yemeni plotters saw the frenzy produced by their failed Christmas Day bombing attempt on a flight to Detroit. They must be hoping now, with the package bombs, to disrupt cargo-handling around the world and damage a fragile global economy (Staying Nimble).

The events of 9-11-01 were a one-off; pretty simple.
Forget Condi's mushroom clouds.

Anne Applebaum calls al-Qaeda a "weak threat":

Al-Qaeda, at least in its desert hideouts on the Arabian Peninsula, does not pose a serious, existential security challenge to the United States.

If al-Qaeda terrorists are stuffing PETN into underwear or packages, that must mean that they do not have access to cutting-edge biological research or nuclear bomb components. On the contrary, they remain strangely fixated on airplanes and far behind the technological times.

If the best al-Qaeda's remaining cells can do is hide PETN, a 19th-century explosive, inside a printer cartridge, then perhaps we have already succeeded - far more than we usually realize - in destabilizing at least this particular terrorist threat. ... (w)e shouldn't let al-Qaeda take too much public attention, diplomatic energy and government funding from the more complicated, and more dangerous, challenges of the future (
A Weak Bomb Threat from al-Qaeda.)

The Christian Science Monitor said the small attacks would further traumatize and damage us economically. But how can al-Qaeda damage our economy any more than our banking industry has -- with the full compliance of our leadership? How can the U.S. be further traumatized?

We have been exposed to the war violence daily --
the only threat is that we become inured to it and forget the actual threat to our way of life.

--by Lisa and Jim

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