1. What does this say about art? Is art ineffectual or — think about it! — quite powerful? It seems to me that serious artists are not about using art to become serene members of the community. They try to make strong statements and shake complacent conformists. Épater la bourgeoisie. Terrorist ideology + art should = explosion.* Now, of course, it was probably incredibly lame art therapy, in which case it was laughably ineffectual. I just want you to think about what a despicable use of art this was all around. Whether it was weak art or strong art, it was not something to be prescribed to turn men away from terrorism.
2. These men — Guantanamo prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari and prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi (who for some reason has now changed the Harbi to Awfi) — were released in 2007, during the Bush Administration. So, that is Bush's fault. If Obama supporters want to take advantage of the argument that it's Bush fault, they must encourage Obama to take a harsher position than Bush did against the Guantanamo detainees. Could that happen? Hardly. But maybe Obama will toughen up about the detainees. He may have wanted to do that anyway, and the Flight 253 near-disaster gives him leverage for moving his position.
* I hope you haven't forgotten how some artists talked about 9/11. Here's an item printed in The Guardian on September 11, 2002:
The artist Damien Hirst said last night he believed the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks "need congratulating" because they achieved "something which nobody would ever have thought possible" on an artistic level....
"The thing about 9/11 is that it's kind of an artwork in its own right. It was wicked, but it was devised in this way for this kind of impact. It was devised visually."
Describing the image of the hijacked planes crashing into the twin towers as "visually stunning", he added: "You've got to hand it to them on some level because they've achieved something which nobody would have ever have thought possible, especially to a country as big as America.
"So on one level they kind of need congratulating, which a lot of people shy away from, which is a very dangerous thing."
Referring to how the event changed perceptions, he added: "I think our visual language has been changed by what happened on September 11: an aeroplane becomes a weapon - and if they fly close to buildings people start panicking. Our visual language is constantly changing in this way and I think as an artist you're constantly on the lookout for things like that."
AND: "Renoir said he painted his pictures with his penis... he did too, lovely pictures!" And Abdulmutallab attempted to create a "visually stunning" plane crash with his bomb-augmented penis.