"Juan Cole has his typical informed comments -- in this case pointing out the implications of the growing polarization (and the radicalization of a substantial minority) in the British Asian Muslim community. The presence inside Britain of such a large terrorist cell, capable of at least preparing for major attacks, despite the crackdown after last year's London bombings, has some fairly chilling implications. Londonstan indeed."My first thought is always that the Bush administration Republicans don't want me to know anything about the real terror threats, just the faked ones they gin up to gain political advantage in the next American election.
Or it would have such implications, if the official story were essentially true. One can choose one's degree of paranoia here, since the only information sources about the plot are the police and intelligence agencies involved, plus the political spinmeisters.
Many of us have grown accustomed enough to the pointless politicization of color-coded alerts to be instantly skeptical. But the idea that Al Qaeda had a "big one" in the works -- and would have loved to have pulled the trigger in the middle of Israel's war on Lebanon -- certainly isn't inherently implausible. I've mentioned the possibility myself.
On the other hand, none of the previous known plots hatched by the British wing of the movement have come anywhere close to the alleged scope and sophistication of this one. To expect a bunch of idiots who literally couldn't figure out how to set their own shoes on fire to pull off the simultaneous destruction of up to 20 planes using liquid explosives is a bit of a stretch.
I'm also dubious about the claim that the plotters were following -- almost to the letter -- an 11-year old plan developed by Al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to blow up a dozen or so U.S. airliners over the Pacific. Following the script for a previously exposed and foiled operation doesn't exactly seem like a global terrorism best practice. Are we dealing with professionals or amateurs here? Or is it a little bit of both, plus a healthy dose of hype from a couple of guys (Bush and Blair) who right now can use all the hype -- and raw, adrenalized fear -- they can get?
Like I said, it's a BYOP (bring your own paranoia) party. The truth behind the latest episode of the "Osama bin Laden Hour" is one of those unknown unknowns Rumsfeld talks about. Would the security apparatuses of two leading capitalist powers (including the commercial heavyweight champion of the world) really turn the global transportation system on its ear just for the sake of a temporary political advantage? And if that's really what's really going on, why isn't it October right now? "
If I know about the real threats I might try to hold them responible for not actually trying to stop them. As Ron Suskind points out in his book "The One Percent Doctrine", many experts on bin Laden in the CIA have concluded that bin Laden specifically has times some of his statements to support the Reelection of Bush in 2004. That's not too surprising considering how closely the Bush family and the bin Laden family have been over the decades since WW II.
We'll have to see how this current set of warnings plays out, and maybe they won't sputter into made-up threats as the Miami group and the Northeastern group did. Still, I'm glad I'm not going anywhere by air in the next few weeks.