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August 10, 2006

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I just posted this on the Geek-Fu thread but more appropriate here:

I eagerly await the President's sure to be mind-numbing statement on the disrupted terror plot. Drink each time he mentions 9/11 and terror/terrorist; finish the glass each time he mentions Iraq.

And I'll repeat my question here, as it is more appropriate: do you believe there is any chance this threat is a real one?

I'm curious, do you think that there is any chance that this plot was, in fact, real?

I do think it was real, you don't see the Brits do what they did to Heathrow for political theater.

I'm skeptical about the timing of the announcement (the stories say the tracking has been going on for months). I'm also skeptical about how far along and how dangerous the plot actually was since the people in charge have an incentive to hype these things (remember the plot to blow up the Sear Tower, the disruption of which was announced with much fanfare several months ago? What a bunch of chumps those guys turned out to be).

So real? Yes. Super-bad-possibly-worse-than-9/11? Let's not get carried away (at least not yet).

Part of me can't believe that my first reaction is: what crap is the Bush administration up to now. Hence my suggestion of a drinking game for Bush's statement.

Thanks for the elaboration.

And yes, I remember the whole to-do over the Sears Tower. I'm not sure how much of that was attributable to the Bush administration as opposed to the normal bureaucratic tendency to trumpet one's successes to the heavens to justify one's existence.

And the current bleating from right-wing sites like redstate about "this shows why the democrats cannot be allowed to run this country" is a bunch of, well, horse manure. And who's politicizing the war now?

I think the timing of the statement and the new rules at the airports are both based on the arrests.

It makes sense to me that they rules at the airports are based on the idea that they might not have captured every single member of the plot and that further plotters might act once they realize that their compatriots have vanished.

If you implement the rules before you arrest the terrorists, you tip them off--letting them change their plans.

I'm not sure how much of that was attributable to the Bush administration

Since the Bush Administration is presently in charge of those bureaucracies who like to trumpet their successes to the heavens to justify their existence, I'm guessing the answer to your question is anywhere from "somewhat" to "a lot."

(I notice the Redstaters are burning peace symbols now. What a delightful change from the traditional cross.)

I think the plot was real. No comment on the timing.

I also believe Ned Lamont wears hair gel, like all Democrats, with the exception of blown-dry Joe Lieberman.

I tend to mix fluids while on flights. Myself should watch myself if myself were myself, which myself would never own up to.

I also believe Islamofascists' timing on these plots is exquisitely flawless. Clearly, a "big one" was coming.

By which I mean the November election. These things run in cycles. Or in lockstep.

All I know is that Ned Lamont wears hair gel.

Repeat, but don't rinse.

If true, this just goes to show that candy ass law enforcement approaches to combatting terrorism are ineffective. Or something.

If they don't have any liquid explosives to show for their arrests the plot may have been real but mostly hype. If they've got it I'm sure eventually show it, if only to justify shutting down so many airports.

Well I'm glad we got back from Ireland before the rule change. My boyfriend would have been heartbroken if he had lost all his duty-free whiskey.

I like this fellow's attitude:

David Charters of Princeton, who arrived around 6:30 am for a 9 am flight to Calgary, was unsure he would make his flight, but was not making a fuss. “If you’re not patient, you shouldn’t be flying because things like this happen,’’ he said. “That’s why they have bars here."
I find it interesting that Bush said this: '‘this nation is at war with Islamic fascists.”

Has he used that term before?

Outside the Beltway has a great big long piece on this. Seems it was a real plot, very serious.
I'd feel a lot safer if our focus in the war on terrorism was on security and intelligence, rather than unnecessary and unsuccesful military operations.

Gary, he seems to have picked it up a few months ago.

May 25:

These people are totalitarians. They're Islamic fascists. They have a point of view, they have a philosophy, and they want to impose that philosophy on the rest of the world. And Iraq just happens to be a -- one of the battles in the war on terror.

June 14:

See, Iraq is a part of the global war on terror. It's not "the" global war on terror, it's a theater in the global war on terror. And if we fail in Iraq, it's going to embolden al Qaeda types. It will weaken the resolve of moderate nations to stand up to the Islamic fascists. It will cause people to lose their nerve and not stay strong.

And Tony Snow even used "Islamofascists" recently.


Lebanese Pallywood:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vPAkc5CLgc

Comments welcome :)

Just as an aside, a few months ago I was getting on a flight and was singled out to have my carry-on baggage searched. The search was pretty thorough, but throughout it I was carrying a nearly full bottle of water.

Nobody at any point asked me to open the bottle so they could sniff it. That struck me as strange. Aren't there lots of clear liquids that are dangerous?

If its so credible, why has the TSA not withdrawn its recent decision to permit people to bring nail clippers and scissors on airplanes? Aren't these tools just as threatening? And why is it that checked bags aren't checked by hand by anyone? This is so bizarre that you cannot but doubt the veracity of these reports.

If its so credible, why has the TSA not withdrawn its recent decision to permit people to bring nail clippers and scissors on airplanes? Aren't these tools just as threatening? And why is it that checked bags aren't checked by hand by anyone? This is so bizarre that you cannot but doubt the veracity of these reports.

If its so credible, why has the TSA not withdrawn its recent decision to permit people to bring nail clippers and scissors on airplanes? Aren't these tools just as threatening? And why is it that checked bags aren't checked by hand by anyone? This is so bizarre that you cannot but doubt the veracity of these reports.

If its so credible, why has the TSA not withdrawn its recent decision to permit people to bring nail clippers and scissors on airplanes? Aren't these tools just as threatening? And why is it that checked bags aren't checked by hand by anyone? This is so bizarre that you cannot but doubt the veracity of these reports.

If its so credible, why has the TSA not withdrawn its recent decision to permit people to bring nail clippers and scissors on airplanes? Aren't these tools just as threatening? And why is it that checked bags aren't checked by hand by anyone? This is so bizarre that you cannot but doubt the veracity of these reports.

If its so credible, why has the TSA not withdrawn its recent decision to permit people to bring nail clippers and scissors on airplanes? Aren't these tools just as threatening? And why is it that checked bags aren't checked by hand by anyone? This is so bizarre that you cannot but doubt the veracity of these reports.

I don't think they invent these incidents, but I do suspect they play them up for political gain. Look at what Bush said today:

The -- this country is safer than it was prior to 9/11. We've taken a lot of measures to protect the American people. But obviously we're still not completely safe, because there are people that still plot and people who want to harm us for what we believe in. It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America.

Not only is he taking credit for the lack of attacks on US soil, despite some rather convincing evidence in Suskind's book that al Qaida has intentionally NOT attacked the US again yet, but he's asserting that some folks in the US believe there is no threat. Who are these imaginary folks who believe there is no threat? In this context, it's easy for folks to assume he means the Democrats or anyone who opposes his policies, but he's clearly taking advantage of the news today to make himself look more like a success than he has rights to claim IMO. He's so beyond his skill set in all this that he, in a way, is the real threat to the country.

Aren't these tools just as threatening?

Aren't nail clippers and scissors just as threatening as liquid explosives? I think I'll have to go with "no" on that one, Robb.

[a comment so meritorious it needed to be made six times]

ever since that Air Hawaii flight landed missing a lot of the top half of its fuselage, I've become suspicious of claims that relatively small volumes of liquids, detonated in the passenger compartment, can bring down a plane.

Andrew, as resident expert on things that go bang, do you have any opinion on that?

Comments welcome :)

Half the battle is always PR and cynics abound in every culture.

How about comments on the top image on this site?


Francis,

That comes down to a question of aerodynamics more than explosives, an area I'm not particularly conversant in. I suspect that it would be possible to bring down a plane with a relatively small amount of explosives if you put it in the right place. But where that would be, I have no idea.

Also, I'm not sure how effective a liquid-based explosive would be, but then, I'm not a combat engineer. The stuff I tend to use to go bang is pretty simple compared to what they use.

I have some friends getting married this weekend. As the marriage is in America, but the bride is from England, I hope this doesn't prevent her family from making to the wedding.

That's the extent of my thoughts on this situation.

Thanks, KCinDC, regarding the "Islamic fascists" language.

"If its so credible, why has the TSA not withdrawn its recent decision to permit people to bring nail clippers and scissors on airplanes? Aren't these tools just as threatening?"

Um, no?

"And why is it that checked bags aren't checked by hand by anyone?"

Um, they are?

""And why is it that checked bags aren't checked by hand by anyone?"

Um, they are?"

My understanding is that less than all are. All are x-rayed, but only some are opened and searched (and when this happens, you get a nice shiny TSA sticker placed on the claim tag).

I think the threat was real, and I trust the timing. A lot of that is because I tend to trust the Brits on this, and (as someone said above) even if I didn't, I would doubt very much that they would have shut transatlantic travel down to score political points for someone else. (I might be inclined to entertain this possibility if they had also received their info from someone else, and thus could be being lied to, but since it was their arrests, I assume not.)

One of the reasons some of the earlier threats, which I did not at the time want to believe were hyped but which seem to have been, really bothered me was that this stuff is too serious to be playing politics with, and to be inducing cynicism towards.

I was supposed to be flying today, but decided to leave early. Good move.

My brain screams in pain at the connections Dick Cheney is drawing between this incident, Iraq and Joe Lieberman. In any sane universe this buffoon would've been laughed out of office years ago.

The day before yesterday, nonthreatening me was selected twice to have my bags searched by hand. (Twice, in two times through security.) Once they checked everything in my briefcase (=many things) for traces of explosives.

As I understand it (from CNN), the deal with nail clippers is: the cockpit doors are hardened; if you're interested not in preventing someone from stabbing a fellow passenger but in preventing them from bringing the plane down, there's no reason to worry about them any more; there remains a very big reason to worry about explosives, especially since airplanes are relatively thin-skinned and high-pressure, at high altitudes.

a nice shiny TSA sticker placed on the claim tag

Those are collectibles, too.

Hair gel, my ass; they've banned paperbacks and magazines! How do they expect a person to get through an 8-hour flight in steerage without anything to read?

According the CNN.com, they were going to do the dirty deed with energy drinks and MP3 players.

CNN

Next, we're going to all be drugged into a stupor for the trip. Which, come to think of it...

Gatorade jello set off with an iPod. I'm finding that image interesting.

Hilzoy, I think part of the deal with nail clippers also is that, really, how much of a threat can you be with them? They're probably a less effective weapon than pens, sunglasses, belts, soft drink cans, or any number of things one can find in the typical airplane cabin.

With the assumption that the terrorists may have, at worst, a marginally competent think tank, what better way for them to wreak havoc on America than have their plots coincide with the stay-the-course sermons of our own in-house fear-mongers. The terrorist would surely know their plot need not come to fruition, and that no amount of security can protect us from that.

By the way, does anybody know what "stay the course" looks like when written in Arabic. I'd like to keep that image handy while watching the banners wave on middle east news.

I flew today, and just got to DCA an hour or so ago. I cleared security with a Cinnabon -- clearly dangerous to me, but not to others -- plenty of wiry crap in my laptop case along with my laptop, and a paperback (on the life of Roger de Mortimer -- I'm not sure how far I'm ready to go in comparing GWB to Edward II, but how do they know that). Also an iPod and a Blackberry. And a bright orange t-shirt that says "Property of Leavenworth Penitentiary -- A Gated Community." They laughed at the shirt, and cast greedy eyes on the Cinnabon, but otherwise it wasn't any more involved than usual.

Tim: Gatorade jello set off with an iPod. I'm finding that image interesting.

It's all very "MacGyver".

". . . are relatively thin-skinned and high-pressure, at high altitudes."

I can think of certain other entities this might describe, it seems to me, particularly in the realm of politics.

First, this is frightening news and I'm glad the plot was foiled. It is an unpleasant reminder (if truly as advertised) that the problem of terrorism isn't going away soon.

Having said that, I am preemptively cringing at the onslaught of right wing punditry to come.

Amid the assertions that this somehow proves our invasion of Iraq was necessary will be lost the fact(according earlier reports I saw) that the alleged terrorists were British born.

The pundits will not explain, of course, how continued nation building in Iraq will prevent British born Islamic terrorist groups from forming. A particulary relevant point since (the last time I checked) Britain is already a democracy.

I am also curious if the foiled terrorists will ever reveal whether they were radicalized prior to 9/11 or whether events in Iraq (for instance) pushed them over the fence. If the latter, then someone has some explaining to do.

CharleyCarp: did I ever mention the time I entered Turkey, back in 1988, wearing (without thinking about it) my T shirt that said "Sure, I'm a Marxist!" under pictures of Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Karl, and several people, despite being clearly frightened, pulled me aside and whispered to me to cover it up so no one would see it?

Possibly there's more people in Turkey that can read English than recognize Groucho.

Possibly.

Apparently the "no books and no iPods" rule is only for flights from the UK to the US. You can still take books and such on domestic flights.

How long did it take you to clear security, CharleyCarp? I'm flying tomorrow, and the airline recommends getting to the airport three hours prior to departure.

Hilzoy:

Chinese obsession with the religious leaders of Tibet has taken on strange proportions at times. Ordinarily, a man such as Gyalpo, who spent most of his life in Tibet, then in prison for listening to tapes of the Dalai Lama, then in India, would not be familiar with the late American entertainer Phil Silvers.

But when a British tourist visited the Tibetan city of Gyangste in 1987 and walked the streets wearing a T-shirt with a photo of Sgt. Bilko, Chinese guards immediately assumed it was a photo of the Dalai Lama and tried to arrest her.

"Phil Silvers, yes," Gyalpo nodded in recognition. It has become part of the lore, this reappearance of the exiled Dalai Lama through Sgt. Bilko.

"Islamic Fascists"

someone should ask Bush how he defines "fascism".

cleek,

Or Hitler. Heh...

Bush's statement lays some interesting ground work:

who gather intelligence and who work to protect the American people ... We've taken a lot of measures to protect the American people ... we have given our officials the tools they need to protect our people ... we will take the steps necessary to protect the American people ... our government will do everything we can to protect our people ...

That's five times in a 288 word, 13 sentence (not counting the ending "thank you") statement. More legislation allowing them to take steps "to protect the American people"?

I'm a bad example. I flew out of Kansas City. Arrived at the Hertz counter to turn in the car about 50 minutes before the flight, then on the shuttle to the check-in, arriving about 35 minutes before the flight. At KC, they do security at the gates, and there were 3 people ahead of me in line.

The concession to security was that there were no trash cans at the gate -- because the plane was going to DC -- but the gate agent helpfully showed me that there were cans at the adjacent gate. Had to toss the Cinnaboon box, etc.

I am also curious if the foiled terrorists will ever reveal whether they were radicalized prior to 9/11 or whether events in Iraq (for instance) pushed them over the fence.

*Alleged* terrorists... Chertoff called them "the terrorists" but really we shouldn't do that yet. I do though assume there are charges to be brought against them, and, they'll probably reveal they were radicalized by the war on Iraq.

Good effing lord, we've gone insane:

At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, where the snaking lines filled the D concourse completely, police patrolled the perimeter of the surging crowd, carrying plastic handcuffs and automatic weapons.

Ital off?

Hezbollah racks up more Israeli Arab kills:

Hezbollah gunners renewed their attacks on northern Israel on Thursday morning, killing a five-year-old Fathi Assadi and his mother Miriam, 26, in the western Galilee village of Dir al-Assad.

Eleven other people were wounded in the attack, including Faris, the three-year-old brother of the boy who was killed, who sustained serious injuries. The dead woman's mother-in-law was also seriously hurt. One other person was moderately hurt and eight suffered light wounds.

Village residents wounded in the attack were evacuated to hospital in Nahariya.

As I note, since it's not in these graphs: this is an Arab village, and Arab victims. They seem to be regularly killing Israeli Arabs pretty much every day.

With luck, there will be a cease-fire soon. FWIW.

*Alleged* terrorists...

Agreed. I did use the "alleged" term in the preceding paragraph.

According the CNN.com, they were going to do the dirty deed with energy drinks and MP3 players.

Energy drinks? They presumably mean Semtex.

Marshall airport is always a problem when the security ratchets up. I've spent some ugly time in lines there.

What I wonder, though, is how Cleveland is. I have a day trip there next week, and if I really have to be at the airp 3 hours early, I'm going to have to stay overnight.

"I do though assume there are charges to be brought against them, and, they'll probably reveal they were radicalized by the war on Iraq."

That seems a remarkable presumption. I hardly think that the 9/11 hijackers were radicalized by the war on Iraq, nor those who attacked the WTC the first time, in 1993, nor those attacked AMIA in Argentinia in 1994, nor, oh, hell, I don't think that's what Sayyid Qutb was ticked off about, either.

This sort of idiocy is enough to make one shudder and think of Jeanne Kirkpatrick for just a microsecond.

"I do though assume there are charges to be brought against them, and, they'll probably reveal they were radicalized by the war on Iraq."

That seems a remarkable presumption. I hardly think that the 9/11 hijackers were radicalized by the war on Iraq, nor those who attacked the WTC the first time, in 1993, nor those attacked AMIA in Argentinia in 1994, nor, oh, hell, I don't think that's what Sayyid Qutb was ticked off about, either.

This sort of idiocy is enough to make one shudder and think of Jeanne Kirkpatrick for just a microsecond.

Sure, it could turn out to be true, but it seems to be getting a bit ahead of the facts to assume it.

That seems a remarkable presumption. I hardly think that the 9/11 hijackers were radicalized by the war on Iraq

I assume it because the 7/7 bombers ("alleged" bombers) were, such evidence as we in the UK have, which is now considerable, suggests, radicalised by the war on Iraq, and because of what we in the UK know about the views of young radical Muslims here. (The people who've been arrested are I think all young British Muslims.)

Of course I could be wrong about these particular men and indeed I was very wrong about one ("assume there are charges to be brought") who has been released without charge. (Another may be released on Monday.)

Do try not to confuse "idiocy" and knowledge-based assumptions.


and because of what we in the UK know

that's wrong/unfair; see also (for example) the work of Robert Pape.

and because of what we in the UK know

that's wrong/unfair; see also (for example) the work of Robert Pape.

and because of what we in the UK know

that's wrong/unfair; see also (for example) the work of Robert Pape.

"...that's wrong/unfair; see also (for example) the work of Robert Pape."

And once again, we point out how bad Pape's work is.

Does everyone feel safer?

While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology.

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