Is this the way al Qaeda’s decade or so of terror pre-eminence ends? The details are still coming out but from what I’ve seen so far, the latest attempt to attack an American jetliner was done by a wealthy scion of a Nigerian banker who had explosive underwear that he was unable to detonate.
Now it is impossible (and stupid) to say that terrorism is over, but this sort of pathetic, bumbling attempt on a single jet in the US is a far cry from the massive synchronized assaults that were the trademark of al Qaeda’s perverse spectacles. Part of what makes a terror group successful is the perception of it as fearsome and daring – the sort of appeal that villains like Jesse James have accrued at other times. The pampered son of a banker setting his pants on firing and failing at it is not fearsome and daring, it’s lame. Recruiting disaffected young men in the wake of the 9/11 spectacle was surely easy for al Qaeda, doing so in the wake of this latest clusterfuck is surely a different matter.
I am confident that al Qaeda will continue to attempt to launch attacks and I think it even reasonable to expect some of them to succeed, but I also think this latest incident is indicative of their current capabilities. This will snowball, no one wants to join a group that is a shell of its former self.
I should also like to note that this plot could have been foiled with some good police work and some information, the father of this young man reported his suspicions – no waterboarding was necessary. I eagerly await Cheney calling to invade Nigeria though, perhaps he’s awaiting his large payments from that nice Nigerian general who he met through his email.
It’s tiresome to have to repeat this, but yet again we have the evidence.
A right-wing talk show host admits to it:
Jesse Ventura could have told him that:
Watch Cliff May offer a pathetic defence of the United States’ torture regime on Jon Stewart. One wonders if Cliff May would submit to this treatment. Maybe we could learn the secret of why Cliff May is such an asshole, I mean he keeps agreeing with Stewart that liberal democratic values matter, but that they can be suspended any time that Cliff May has a bad feeling about something. Once again here’s Christopher Hitchens undergoing it:
A great quote from Matt Yglesias that I think sums up the US (and increasingly, Stephen Harper’s Canada) circa 2009:
“To an extent that I find frankly astounding—and certainly unseen in other wealthy nations—people from modest backgrounds are expected to suffer the economic consequences of poor decision-making or bad luck, all in the name of personal responsibility. But when someone really important screws up, either in terms of provoking a financial crisis or overseeing a policy disaster or breaking the law or whatever, well then it turns out that we have better things to do than ‘look backwards’ at who deserves what.”
So yeah, torturers should get a free pass, but the auto workers’ unions better pay for having the temerity to have negotiated well for the needs of their members.
It’s seldom that I ever see a Fox News personality do something praiseworthy, but Shep Smith deserves credit for this surgical F-bomb strike:
I know that any attempts to have the authors of the American torture regime answer for their crimes will be politicized and blocked by all manner of Bush apologists. The Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs of the world will attempt claim that the Bush White House and its legal, medical, political, and military accessories are martyrs and true patriots. People will get angry, it will be divisive. Yet having read about the torture memos today, I cannot reasonably say that this should just go away. If the rule of law is to mean anything, if no one is truly above the law, then there must be investigations, and given the evidence so far, likely trials.
Amid all the (over) hyping of Obama, it is nice to see that he’s followed up his suspension of the Gitmo kangaroo court with a ban on torture:
“Executive Order revokes Executive Order 13440 that interpreted Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It requires that all interrogations of detainees in armed conflict, by any government agency, follow the Army Field Manual interrogation guidelines. The Order also prohibits reliance on any Department of Justice or other legal advice concerning interrogation that was issued between September 11, 2001 and January 20, 2009.”
Whatever else Obama does, this is praiseworthy.
The more we learn about Omar Khadr, the more it becomes apparent just how badly Canada has messed this one up. Now this morning we learn that our government knew that Khadr was being mistreated but that Stephen Harper isn’t going to do anything about it. I guess he wants to look “tough” in front of his Washington pals. Or something. This is the man that came to power on the slogan “stand up for Canada” and yet once again he’ll sit on his hands when real courage is required. Even Australia and the UK, often considered the two most steadfast US partners in the war on terror, have brought their citizens home from Guantanamo. Now it’s our turn. Bring Khadr home. If the evidence warrants it, give him a fair trial in the Canadian justice system. No torture, no kangaroo courts, no legal limbo, no bullshit.
I think we are in denial. I know I am in denial, because I’m not saying enough about this. We are fucking disappearing people in Afghanistan! What the hell? Were we satisfied that we nicely asked the government to look into it? Maybe, I don’t know. We are losing everything that we built, our reputation as peacekeepers, as respecters of human rights. We are betraying it in Afghanistan for the sake of convenience and we are allowing such a thing to happen because those who support such policies will denounce us as unpatriotic if we do not.
What happens in a few years when Afghans come to us looking for their family members. Can’t happen here you say? I’m not so sure. We are monsters if we let this continue with our knowledge. If we have to be complicit with a murderous, torturing regime we ought not to be in Afghanistan. If the Afghans want us, they can damn well get their shit together with regard to prisoner treatment.
On the way into work this morning I heard on the radio that the judge in Conrad Black’s trial has said that Conrad cannot use the Ostrich defence in his trial (i.e.: his lawyers can’t plead that he had his head in the sand about this whole thing if he was deliberately ignorant).
Meanwhile it appears that Rumsfeld is attempting the very same thing when it comes to the issue of torture at Abu Ghraib. It now appears that he deliberately made a show of not looking at photographs of what had happened. Andrew Sullivan writes:
“The most plausible inference is obviously that he covered his tracks and feigned ignorance and did not look at the photographs to create a record of complete deniability. The incompetence comes from ordering torture at Abu Ghraib and not realizing that evidence of it would spread and disseminate through new media that Rumsfeld probably wasn’t that familiar with.”
One wonders whether Rumsfeld will get away with this defence for what amounts to a war crime when Black has been denied this defence in a white collar crime trial.