October 6, 2005

What about the terrorist attacks that don't happen?

It's hard to claim credit for the absence of an event. WaPo reports:
President Bush said today the United States and its allies have disrupted at least 10 serious plots by the al Qaeda network in the past four years, as he sought to rally the nation against international terrorists and warned foreign governments against supporting them....

He added, "We've stopped at least five more al Qaeda efforts to case targets in the United States or infiltrate operatives into our country."...

Bush did not elaborate.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan later identified two of the three schemes to carry out attacks in the United States as previously alleged plots involving Jose Padilla, a Puerto Rican convert to Islam who was suspected of planning to detonate a radiological "dirty bomb," and Lyman Farris, a naturalized U.S. citizen and truck driver from Ohio who was allegedly recruited to destroy New York's Brooklyn Bridge, blow up airliners on the ground and derail passenger trains. Both men were arrested after being identified by captured al Qaeda commanders, and neither plot got beyond a reconnaissance stage.

McClellan said other plots Bush referred to are "still classified."

ADDED: To be clear, I certainly think credit is deserved for stopping attacks. My point is that people don't notice and don't give you credit. Everything just seems uneventful.

22 comments:

Chocolate Bus said...

By not driving today I prevented myself from getting into a car accident too.

or even better, because I ran in circles today I prevented myself running straight.

Shane for President 2008, oh wait I am only 30, maybe 2012.

Doug Lee-Knowles said...

I disagree, Professor. It's not hard to claim credit for the absence of an event, it's hard to get credit for the absence of an event.

Meade said...

Shane, prepare to face a formidable opponent hoping to be running for reelection in 2012:

(from AA's link) Bush's open-ended commitment in Iraq "threatens to break the U.S. Army and hurt the economy," Feingold said. "Such a policy keeps America bogged down in Iraq rather than engaged in what should be a global campaign against terrorism." Feingold has called for setting a target date of Dec. 31, 2006, for completing the U.S. mission in Iraq and bringing American troops home.

Jacques Cuze said...

What about the attack on our civil rights that DID happen as a result of 9/11?

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." -- 5th Amendment to the Constitution.

PatCA said...

I'm glad he said it. I'm glad he gave the speech and called out the enemy by name. I'm glad he talked about it all and pushed all the buttons, communism and radical Islam and failed bombing attacks. He's calling out the left and saying, look, look at it, this is what it is. Finally.

I know that the opposition will glom onto this and say he's pandering to fear and he's lying, but I don't care. I'm glad he finally said it because now I know he gets it.

Eddie said...

Very wise of Bush to educate the public on what is really threatening America. It's easy to say an enemy doesn't really exist when there have been no terrorist attacks. So much for 9/11, "never forget," people.

madcat said...

It's Bush who seems to have forgotton that it was Osama bin Laden, not Saddam Hussein, who was behind 9/11... as well as his promises to prioritize catching Osama, dead or alive, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

reader_iam said...

Doug: Right on.

Perhaps oddly, this reminds me of an old George Carlin routine, which by necessity I'm paraphrasing and drawing from memory, so forgive a lack of precisions (plus I'm not a comedian):

In one of his riffs on language and obfuscation (what later came to be known as spin, and in this case I'm using that descriptively and neutrally), he came out with something like, "You know when two planes are flying right at each other but don't collide and they call it a near miss? It's as NEAR HIT, people."

In other words, near misses, when stated as such, make us complacent and we don't actually take them all THAT seriously beyond an initial, visceral reaction. They can even be dismissed as perhaps really not having been a true threat at all.

The phraseology of near hits, however, generates an entirely different feeling, one which generates a greater seriousness of reaction and a different approach to going forward.

It strikes me as human nature to prefer the former and to pooh-pooh the latter construct, because it's just more psychologically comfortable. We'd rather think that if we don't hear about them (that they don't actually happen), then we really weren't all that threatened from the get-go.

And it's not even a matter of whether we feel protected or not or actually WERE protected or not, but that we prefer a psychological state in which we feel no need of protection. That strikes me as the very definition of safe. It's uncomfortable to feel otherwise.

Therefore, I also think it's human nature to discount reports of having been protected, because it's threatening to the preferred psychological state. That's BEFORE you even get to the issue of how you evaluate those charged with providing protection, etc. etc. etc.

Just thinking aloud ...

brylin said...

Hey madcat, free saddam!

aidan maconachy said...

Well said doug lee-knowles ...
seconded!

I lived in Belfast, N.Ireland during "The Troubles" and many IRA attacks were intercepted and devices disabled as a result of frantic behind-the- scenes work on the part of the RUC and the British army. Most citizens were only vaguely aware of a lot of these intercepts, yet they saved a great many lives.

The naivity of American liberals sometimes leaves me shaking my head in disbelief; the notion some put about that the war is somehow a chimera concocted by Bush and associates in order to perpetuate some undisclosed evil capitalist schemes verges on the ridiculous. This claim flies in the face of the known facts.

A relatively small number of provisional IRA volunteers drawn from the catholic working class neighborhoods of cities such as Belfast and Derry created mayhem in Ulster and on the British mainland - even to the extent of nearly killing a standing British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Yet American liberals persist in assuming a posture of denial with respect a GLOBAL terrorist organization - Al Qaeda and its affiliates. They spend their time seeking for reasons why America (read Bush) caused ... provoked ... and yes even invented all this, rather than facing the plain truth that there is a rabid anti-American, anti-western agenda implicit in the ambitions of these terrorist organizations. As Bush rightly stated in his recent speech ... 9/11 happened before one American G.I. set foot in Iraq.

I haven't a shred of a doubt that American is a target, and will remain a target (perhaps more so) if a soft Democrat approach replaces the current administration.

Remember, it was during Clinton's tenure in the White House that Al Qaeda began to seriously test America's will - the barrack attacks, bombing of the Cole etc and they discovered that there was a failure of nerve, and so were emboldened. Clinton incredibly tried to pass off the first Trade Center attack as a run-of-the-mill criminal affair. When then counter terrorism tzar, Dick Clarke, presented compelling evidence that camps in Afghanistan were the spawning ground for a lot of this activity, Clinton declined to act.

To suggest that these alarums and security scares are yet more fabrications by the administration is verging on the foolish. Ironically enough, prior to the London bombings I chatted on-line with a Brit who also took the line that Blair was needlessly creating paranoia.

I have no doubt whatever that work which is being done behind the scenes has foiled attempts to penetrate American security.

Why this should surprise people ... is what surprises me!

Troy said...

So let me get this right Ann... If the cops stop a guy from casing a bank they don't get credit for foiling a bank robbery? That's a tough standard.

So no proactive terror fighting counts only reactive. I'll give credit for proactive thank you very much. I want captured or dead terror suspects as opposed to dead civilians on a subway or in a mall.

The "event" is not the terror attack. The "event" is the planning, casing of targets, procurement of materiel, etc. in preparation of an attack. By arresting or whatever for the conspiracy, attempt, etc., the larger event is stopped.

Ann Althouse said...

Troy: I'm just saying it's hard to be given credit. I think credit is deserved.

Troy said...

Ann... I see.

Doug great point.

vbspurs said...

I've NEVER heard Bush give such a clear, concise, and to the point speech as I heard him today.

Well, except for the speech immediately after 9/11, which even with David Frum's line of "Axil of Evil", and invoking a "Crusade", it was a masterstroke.

And did the news outlets cover the speech?

Did they cocoa.

They were more agog about his alleged "God speaks to me" incident, which the BBC broadcast tonight in a documentary.

MSM. So predictable, it hurts.

Cheers,
Victoria

Chocolate Bus said...

And it was under when george bush senior was CIA director that the bulk of the teroorists got their training from the CIA. Republicans set this whole thing up, not liberals.

Liberals, conservatives are cut from the same cloth. Its time this country get a good viable third party. Lets not forget the Whigs, the federalists, the democratic-republican parties. Obviously no matter who is in office the other side is going to complain. Each side tends to write their own version of history. Not only that both sides tend to spin everything to their own satisfaction. Just look at the posts on this blog.

Everyone who posts tends to take the attitude that they are right with no room for discussion. The only person who is open to discussion here seems to be Ann. Even I find myself taking a self-righteous attitude toward politics, with me being totally right and the other side totally wrong.

You know I was a die hard republican, and then guess what I grew up.

TheRosicrucian said...

The Iraqi government is in a quandry regarding Saddam Hussein. If they execute him, they may well never be able to retrieve the billions he has hidden away. If they don't execute him, they face the wrath of their people.

reader_iam said...

Shane: Well, I guess reasonable people can disagree. One of the reasons I regularly visit this blog is because the majority of the posters, from my perspective, ARE (sorry, can't get italics to work--caps for emphasis not yelling, therefore) open to discussion. I don't get the sense that most are so arrogant as to say that they're just absolutely right and everyone else is just absolutely wrong. Could it be that when instances of self-righteousness or close-mindedness occur, it just stands out more?

And may I gently suggest that a better definition of being "grown up" is not defining that concept itself in terms of a political affiliation?

Peace.

vbspurs said...

I don't get the sense that most are so arrogant as to say that they're just absolutely right and everyone else is just absolutely wrong.

I also don't get that sense with Althouse readers.

Let me personalise this by saying that a person's politics usually are based on their world view, not the other way around.

So when it came time to have a political affiliation after I emigrated to the US, I looked around to see which American party most resembled my world view.

I realised a long time ago I am an anti-Statist, free-market traditionalist.

Do I think "my way" is the best, and that I'm always right?

No, of course not.

Reasonable people never do, despite the blustery face they may put on in public when challenged.

I just chose the Party that came closest to my own ideals, is all.

Cheers,
Victoria

reader_iam said...

Victoria, ever read a book by Thomas Sowell titled A Conflict of Visions"?

I'm perhaps oversimplifying, but in it explores how fundamentally different assumptions about people, life and etc.--essentially, different worldviews--account for people's political tendencies. The way I just wrote that makes the premise sound obvious and trite, but that's to my debt: Sowell's book itself is quite interesting, thoughtful, and thought-provoking.

You and other posters here might wish to read this one if get the chance and haven't already done so.

reader_iam said...

Golly Ned! Sorry for the typos and skipped little words. I'm a fast typist working on a laptop keyboard that is disintegrating, with sticky keys and all. Worse, I'm well past proofreading 101 and yet have been sloppy of late about rereading (as opposed to just dashing things off). Mea culpa ...

Jacques Cuze said...

I am not sure why cutting and pasting upsets you so much. This is the intarwebs after all, built on links. And like Newton, I got to where I am by standing on the shoulders of giants.

thinkprogress debunks the 10 disrupted al qaeda plots


"Not surprisingly, White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked for more information. Here’s what he said:

MCCLELLAN: Some of them are known publicly, like the capture of Jose Padilla and Iyman Faris. Jose Padilla, if you remember, was involved in plots involving a possibility of a dirty bomb. And Iyman Faris was someone who had been in contact with people like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and captured with plots looking at a — blowing up or destroying a New York bridge.

And then there are other incidents that are still classified.

So let’s review what we know about the 10 incidents:

1. Jose Padilla. “Paul Wolfowitz, Mr. Rumsfeld’s deputy, stressed on Monday that ‘there was not an actual plan’ to set off a radioactive device in America and Padilla had not begun trying to acquire materials. Intelligence officials said his research had not gone beyond surfing the internet.” Since being detained in O’Hare airport in 2002, Padilla has not been charged with any crime or permitted to talk to a lawyer. [Daily Telegraph, 12/06/02; Washington Post, 9/10/05]

2. Iyman Faris. Faris was an Ohio truck driver who pleaded guilty in June 2003 to two felony charges of supporting a foreign terrorist organization. He was charged with plotting to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, but U.S. officials admitted that Faris had abandoned the plot because he deemed it unlikely to succeed. “After scouting the bridge and deciding its security and structure meant the plot was unlikely to succeed, he passed along a message to al Qaeda in early 2003 that said ‘the weather is too hot.’” [CNN, 6/19/03]

3-10: Classified.

To recap: One three-year old arrest in a case where no charges have been filed, one two-year old arrest related to a plot that was already abandoned and eight “incidents” the administration won’t tell us anything about. "

P.S. Please turn on blockquotes, it makes it much clearer.

Ann Althouse said...

Quxxo: It's the lack of selectivity that bothers me, the long, unedited quotes. (And I have no way to "turn on" blog quotes. Blogger accepts some tags, if you type them in, but blockquote isn't one of them.)