Saturday, June 09, 2007

On Foiled Terror Plots

A good editorial on why the JFK terror plot, though planned by morons, still needs to be taken seriously.

Foiled terror plots often will seem ridiculous and unlikely, especially when they are pre-empted. What could be stupider than Ahmed Ressam, ''a petty thief'' according to Wright, running from border guards in Washington state after explosives were discovered in the trunk of his car? He wouldn't have seemed so risible if he had exploded his bomb at Los Angeles International Airport. If the 9/11 plot had been disrupted at its very inception - with jihadis playing flight-simulator games in Afghanistan - it would have seemed laughable.
This is why even foiled plots deserve to be taken seriously. The New York Times notoriously played down the scheme to blow up fuel tanks and pipelines at John F. Kennedy Airport on Page 37, pleading that the amateurishness of the plot limited its newsworthiness. As former prosecutor Andy McCarthy points out, the FBI is a victim of its success here. Moving from an emphasis on prosecutions to an emphasis on pre-emption necessarily means that terror cases will be weaker, thus tempting us to discount the threat altogether.

The Democrats have schizophrenia on the question. On the one hand, they argue that President Bush has inflated the terror threat to make us accept fascistic restrictions on our liberties; on the other, they say that he hasn't made us safer (safer from what? one wonders, if the terror threat is so exaggerated). In the recent Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton stood alone in maintaining we're safer since 9/11, demonstrating that - whatever her flaws - she's the adult supervision in the Democratic field.


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