The reaction to the London bomb plot coming from some quarters has got me shaking my head in disbelief. First, British Islamic extremist Azzam Tamimi argued in the Guardian that the whole thing would “turn out to be a hoax.” Ok, we expected that Britain’s terror apologists would try to cover for the plotters. Understood.
Next, Andrew Sullivan jumped on Tamimi’s bandwagon and questioned the timing, wondering if Bush and Blair had decided to “throw Britain’s airports into chaos” for political reasons, possibly including Joe Lieberman’s primary loss to Ned Lamont. Unsatisfied with the evidence produced by British authorities, Sullivan started weaving increasingly intricate conpiracy theories, culminating in this pièce de résistance before he split town for a much-needed vacation.
(My favorite moment came when Sullivan defended himself against the charge that his hatred of the Bush administration had overwhelmed his ability to assess its responses to real terrorist threats. He bragged, “I should add I don’t think I can be accused of disbelieving the potential of terrorists to strike again. I have a cover-story in the current New York Magazine premised on exactly that – on a far larger scale than anything alleged recently.” His cover story – about an imaginary terrorist attack on a land of make-believe — gives him about the same credentials to assess terrorist threats as the writers of Family Guy.)
The fact that the British authorities did not immediately charge the terrorist suspects they detained was one of the things that “ratcheted up” Sullivan’s skepticism. But now, even though the British have charged 11 suspects with serious crimes, bloggers like Kevin Drum are still writing things like this:
… what are the results of that investigation so far? Basically not much. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke assured the media on Monday that the investigation is immense, global, and meticulous, and that “the enormity of the alleged plot will be matched only by our determination to follow every lead and line of enquiry.” However, the only real information he released was a report that investigators have found “chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents and other items,” including martyrdom videos.
What this shows, of course, is that these guys really did want to blow up airplanes. What it doesn’t show is whether they were anywhere close to having enough training and expertise to justify the massive round of fear-mongering and airport hysteria that the British and American governments so eagerly foisted on us two weeks ago.
Easy for Drum to say. He’s not the one in charge of keeping airliners from being blown out of the sky by fanatical Muslims. And can you imagine if he was! Bomb-making components and martyrdom videos are not enough to justify breaking up the plot and cracking down on security at airports? The guys on 9/11 had box-cutters. Period.
Last week NBC News reported that the U.S. pressed the British to break up the plot a little earlier than the British wanted. According to NBC, “Analysts say that in recent years, American security officials have become edgier than the British in such cases because of missed opportunities leading up to 9/11.”
But of course, according to Drum, it couldn’t be as simple as a heightened concerned over terrorism, because…
The risk of terrorists manufacturing binary explosives in the air could almost certainly have been handled in other, more effective ways, and it’s increasingly obvious that the government’s scare campaign was far out of proportion to the actual immediate danger. The likelihood that it was hyped more for political reasons than for genuine reasons of air safety continues to grow, and someday, when there’s a real emergency, this attitude may come back to haunt us.
… everything is a conspiracy! I hate to quote myself, but all this leads to a point I’ve made before, which is:
… The media, led by its allies on the left, try at every turn to paint this White House and its occupant as conspiratorial and corrupt using flimsy, incomplete or just plain fabricated evidence.
Thus, an administration effort to rebut a deceptive critic becomes a conspiracy to thuggishly ”out” his CIA wife. The presentation of flawed intelligence becomes a conspiracy to “lie” us into war. And even the underestimation of national receipts becomes a conspiracy to “low-ball” revenue estimates “to set up good news a few months later.”
This latest conspiracy is just more of the same, only crazier. So much crazier.
There is one way, however, in which it is correct. I have no doubt that “political reasons” drove the Bush administration to urge the British to bust up the plot early. It would be very bad for the Bush administration, politically, if the fanatical Muslims who are desperate to kill us succeeded in doing just that on the scale these plotters envisioned.