Rabbit Redux

I was out late last night, so bear with me, here — Michael Tackett and Jeff Zeleny write in today’s Chicago Tribune

FBI agents in an undercover sting operation arrested seven terrorism suspects in Miami on Thursday who allegedly were plotting to attack the Sears Tower in Chicago, the FBI headquarters in Miami and other U.S. buildings, officials said.

The suspects had “aspirations” but “no means” to attack the Sears Tower or other buildings, a senior federal law-enforcement source said.

The men were all Muslims who thought they were plotting “in conjunction with Al Qaeda” but they really were dealing with law-enforcement undercover agents, one law-enforcement official told The Miami Herald.

The men, who told neighbors in the Liberty City area of Miami that they were starting a children’s karate class at a warehouse, had been plotting for an undetermined amount of time, but their scheme was thwarted well before any attack could be carried out.

“They talked about belonging to an Islamic army. They wanted to raise an army in the U.S.,” a second senior law-enforcement official said Thursday. “But they didn’t have the means to do this.”

“There was no threat at all,” the senior federal law-enforcement source said, referring to the Sears Tower. Chicago police said the city is not on increased alert despite the news.

And later in the article …

The men, who had been subjects of an undercover federal investigation, were apprehended without incident in an adjacent Miami neighborhood.

“There was no imminent danger to the community,” said Judy Orihuela, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Miami. “Everybody is in custody who was part of the group. We’ve been conducting the investigation and we know that it’s been dismantled.” …

… Sears Tower officials would not comment directly on the arrests. But a spokesman said that no plan to attack the building ever had been carried out. Tenants said they had not been notified about the plot.

“Law enforcement continues to tell us that they have never found evidence of a credible terrorism threat against Sears Tower that has gone beyond criminal discussions,” Sears Tower managing director Barbara Carley said in a statement.

No big bleeping deal, in other words. Of course, if you’d only seen the headlines (Fox News: “Seven Nabbed in Miami on Terror Charges in Plot to Hit Sears Tower“) you might have gotten a different impression of what went on.

In one of her most brilliants posts yet, Michelle Malkin calls the suspects “black Muslim radicals” and provides us with an overview of recent terrorist threats coming from black Muslim radicals, going back to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and including the Beltway snipers and black Muslim inmates in Folsom Prison. She even takes a swipe at “the old school black Muslim thugs (and Jesse Jackson pals) of the Chicago-based El Rukn.”

And then she says … get ready for this … “Bob Owens catches the Democratic Underground already playing the race card.”

Awesome. You don’t have to parody Malkin. She does it herself.

Still, if indeed we are swimming in terrorist threats here at home … why are we in Iraq, again?

Ellen Goodman writes in today’s Boston Globe (emphasis added):

… over the past two weeks as the House and Senate debated exit and no-exit strategies, there emerged a phrase in the rhetorical war that has not fallen on deaf ears. It’s the assertion that we are fighting the terrorists there so we won’t have to fight them here. As the president said in the State of the Union address, in the West Point graduation speech, in the surprise visit to Baghdad, “we will stay on the offensive against the terrorists, fighting them abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.”

In the midst of the mutual taunting and sound biting, this still resonates with the American people. So it’s time to ask whether we are indeed fighting terrorists in Iraq so we don’t have to fight them in the New York subway. If so, what does it mean? What does it portend?

From the get-go, the Bush administration framed the war in Iraq as self-defense, as part of the war on terror. In fact, Iraq was never on the State Department’s dance card of terrorist strongholds. The attempt to link Saddam Hussein to 9/11 was as phony as the assertion of weapons of mass destruction. By no stretch of Dick Cheney’s imagination was Iraq a front line on the war on terror. But it is now.

Over three years, it’s become the recruiting ground, the favorite destination for terrorists who take their place alongside insurgents and civil warriors. No sooner is Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed than a claim comes in that the brutal torture and murder of two American soldiers is the work of his successor.

If Iraq is the neighborhood in which terrorists have chosen to fight America, are we now sending soldiers to keep them in that neighborhood? Are we now sending sons, daughters, husbands, wives to be the designated terrorist attractions? If not cannon fodder, are they I.E.D. fodder?

This week at a news conference, The Wall Street Journal’s David Rogers, a Vietnam veteran, challenged the House majority leader. “In Vietnam, they used to put us out in these fire support bases and hope we would get attacked. Is that what you are doing?” he asked. “You are putting people in Iraq and hoping they get attacked so you can bring out the terrorists?” Has it come to this?

Wasn’t that the “flypaper theory” all along? And shouldn’t we put the righties on the spot to explain, if all these black illegal immigrant Muslim radicals are swarming about the country anyway, doesn’t that mean we’re failing to fulfill the mission in Iraq?

Goodman adds, “This administration had no post-Saddam strategy for Iraq. Now it seems they have no post-Iraq strategy for the war on terror.”

Yesterday, Dan Froomkin discussed Karl Rove’s exploitation of Iraq for political purposes. The plan is for Republicans to deride any Democratic plans to withdraw or redeploy troops in Iraq as a “cut and run.” It seems Karl has no post-Iraq strategy for winning elections, either.

15 thoughts on “Rabbit Redux

  1. Good points and by-the-by what of the news out of the London Times today. The Iraq government has brokered a peace deal with all parties and one of its principle planks is the removal of all foreign troops from Iraq and the UN has signed on. And how would Rove spin this one?

  2. In the 90’s there were a number of wacko-s running around central Florida training with their “Militia” units on saturdays.I had the misfortune to have been on a job with several of the boys.They had grand dreams, but that is all they were, the guys had neither the finance nore the balls to really do what they talked about, they (thank goodness!) were living a fantasy on the weekends.After the Murrah building was bombed, one of the guys declared at lunch that the bombing was a good thing because it killed a number of BATF officers and their families. I asked him to “kindly shut the fuck up” and get away from me.
    I think the Liberty City bunch most likely has the same mentality, although it wouldn’t surprise me to find out they were encouraged by an infiltrating special agent. Liberty City is a pitiful place, but thankfully Miami is in the midst of a building boom and work is plentiful, when work is plentiful, employment goes up and crime goes down.I was in the hood just this week and didn’t see near as many idle young men as in past visits.
    As far as this “Cut and Run” baloney goes, in the trades, when things get just too unbearable because of an idiot foreman or dangerous conditions, the term “Drag-up” is used Dragging up is not tucking a tail between the legs and running away, it is getting out when the risk-reward is upside down. Lets not cut and run, but just “Drag-up” and get out of Iraq. Any who disagree or want to resort to name calling can be free to enlist and go to Iraq, I dont want to send any more young men or women to a hell hole of Bush’s making.

  3. The indictment said Batiste initially asked for “boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, and vehicles,” as well as $50,000 in cash, to help him build an “Islamic Army to wage jihad.”

    Uniforms?…Now that’s an important clue!

  4. “As the president said in the State of the Union address, in the West Point graduation speech, in the surprise visit to Baghdad, “we will stay on the offensive against the terrorists, fighting them abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.”

    This is another one of the talking points that I have never read or hear our team counter effectively and it frustrates the devil out of me. It is certainly a dramatic piece of snappy-patter, but it infers some significant facts that are not verifiable. It infers that either al-Qaeda does not have enough human resource to develop mission cells both here and there, or that there is some magical force emanation in Iraq that magnetically draws all of the mission teams capable of terrorism to Iraq so that they don’t end up in the U.S. I don’t care if it tattoos every cow in Texas, I say bullllll-shit.

    It is likely that the next hit we take over here will come from a set of teams whose number is high enough so that eventually one gets through, or from sleeper cells that have been percolating here for a good while.

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  6. I find it interesting that North American would-be terrorists are all getting caught now through undercover stings. This raises a couple of questions for me: 1) would a real Al Qaeda sleeper get caught by so foolishly plotting with complete strangers? And 2) why is law enforcement using these ongoing undercover ops to garner PR, when that could tip off suspects before they’re arrested? (In Canada, there was a lot of noise in the media from high government mucky-mucks, a couple of weeks before the “sting” netted all those paintballing teenagers. That struck me as very weird.)

    None of this makes me feel any safer.

  7. This is a head scratcher. The Sears Tower story made the front page of the NY Post in what I imagine was the same fashion it made Fox News, and if you think about it, it’s all very misleading and bad journalism, to boot. I know that when I’m reading newspaper stories, I tend to just read the headline and the first couple of paragraphs… that there was “no threat at all” isn’t explained until the sixth paragraph. Shouldn’t the lead be something like, “Sears Tower Targeted; Officials Say No Threat”? Or something?

    I don’t know how the non-threat affected the rest of the country, but there were a suspiciously large number of police officers in the NYC subway this morning. They were checking bags at my stop. It’s been a few months since I’ve run into a security checkpoint; the number of cops in uniform in the subway has been consistently up since the London bombings last year, but the bag search checkpoints tend to only pop up if there’s some muttering of terrorism in the news. Which confirms my theory that the bag searches are more PR than effective anti-terrorism measures.

  8. So, we all know that Bush has no plan for Iraq or post-Iraq. As Josh Marshall said so well, “Bush’s policy is denial and slow failure”.

    And, what a bizarre GOP fantasy….. that ‘denial and slow failure’ policy is now being lock-step embraced by Rove-advised Republican congress-critters who must hope that the ’06 voters are gonna be fine about leaving our soldiers in Iraq as IED fodder. The Repugs, looking at the election ahead, gamble that their lack of a plan [to get our soldiers safely home] isn’t worthy of their attention, since, as Rove advises them, Dems demanding an actual plan can just be smeared with the phrase ‘cut and run’.

    But, the Bush folks are willing to RUN a slow failure war in which more and more American soldiers get CUT down..

    Today, the death count for our soldiers in Iraq hit 2,515.

    Back to the specific topic of this post, the arrest of the seven in Miami, and the way the media presented the story…..my thought was that we will probably get a steady diet of such inflated scare headlines between now and November. Nothing like holding power to be able to feed the public some selectively spun news. Remember Ashcroft and his inflated ‘news’ announcements in a previous election cycle? This story makes me wonder if it’s merely a first of several trial balloon stories to be put out to test what level of scare story might alter public opinion to bolster the ‘failed policy Republicans’.

  9. Donna – the denial and failure traits are typical of narcissistic alcoholics who are quick to point the finger at the other when things go wrong.

    The “[b]ut, the Bush folks are willing to RUN a slow failure war in which more and more American soldiers get CUT down..” is excellent. Maybe you could send it over to the Howard the Screamer so he could have at least one tool in his kit next time he goes on Sunday morning talk.

  10. I should think you would be happy to know that if the FBI is expending so many resources on wannabe Al Qaeda cells with very little ability to pull off a terrorist attack, that must mean that there are no actual Al Qaeda cells working in the United States.

  11. that must mean that there are no actual Al Qaeda cells working in the United States.

    Or else that the Justice Department is colossally incompetent and rounds up phony cells instead of real ones.

    Hmm …

  12. Just another chapter in the “war on terror”. A book of fiction 5 years in the making. Doesn’t this just justify all the “illegal” domestic spying? Interesting that just today the NYT, LAT, and that great liberal rag the wall street journal reported yet another apparent infraction on our civil liberties (tracking domestic bank records). Hey these guys took an oath of allegiance to Al-Qaeda (administered by an FBI informant), give me a break. Apparently this is the best they can do (concocting some cockamamie story) to justify the illegal spying. FAUX news bought it why can’t we? I smell desperation, yesterday WMD’s today “black Muslim” terrorists. Nothing rallies the right wing base like some good African American Mug shots.

  13. “Iraq was never on the States Department’s dance card of terrorist strongholds”
    US State Departments: Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999

    “Iraq continued to plan and sponsor international terrorism in 1999. Although Baghdad focused primarily on the antiregime opposition both at home and abroad, it continued to provide safehaven and support to various terrorist groups. “

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