Many of the documents publicize for the first time what was first made clear in the 9/11 Commission: The White House received a truly remarkable amount of warnings that al-Qaida was trying to attack the United States. From June to September 2001, a full seven CIA Senior Intelligence Briefs detailed that attacks were imminent, an incredible amount of information from one intelligence agency. One from June called “Bin-Ladin and Associates Making Near-Term Threats” writes that “[redacted] expects Usama Bin Laden to launch multiple attacks over the coming days.” The famous August brief called “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike the US” is included. “Al-Qai’da members, including some US citizens, have resided in or travelled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure here,” it says. During the entire month of August, President Bush was on vacation at his ranch in Texas — which tied with one of Richard Nixon’s as the longest vacation ever taken by a president. CIA Director George Tenet has said he didn’t speak to Bush once that month, describing the president as being “on leave.” Bush did not hold a Principals’ meeting on terrorism until September 4, 2001, having downgraded the meetings to a deputies’ meeting, which then-counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has repeatedly said slowed down anti-Bin Laden efforts “enormously, by months.”
An ex-soldier with ties to the white supremacist movement has been taken into custody in connection with the planting of a backpack bomb along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Jr. March in downtown Spokane, authorities have confirmed.
Kevin William Harpham, 36, of Colville, could face life imprisonment on charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive device, according to documents on file in U.S. District Court. An initial court appearance is scheduled for this afternoon.
Harpham was arrested this morning during a raid at his home near Addy, Wash. by dozens of federal agents who had been assembling in Spokane during the past few days.
The Southern Poverty Law Center confirmed that Harpham in 2004 was a member of the National Alliance, which is one of the most visible white supremacist organizations in the nation.
“What to me this arrest suggests is that the Martin Luther King Day attack is what it always looked like: A terror-mass murder attempt directed at black people and their sympathizers,” said Mark Potok, who is the director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project that tracks and investigates hate groups.
Not surprising. Hey, Rep. Peter King, when do we get to hold hearings into right-wingers not doing enough and not working with the government to prevent a very small minority from becoming radicalized. They’re not turning in their own! Or is that just for Muslims?
Land of the free, home of the brave…
This is one of those “I told you so” moments.
At least 31 people have been killed and around 130 injured in a blast at Domodedovo airport in Moscow, the Russian capital’s busiest, health officials said.
The blast occured on Monday afternoon inside the airport’s international arrivals hall near the baggage area. “Today at 4:32 pm (1332 GMT) an explosion went off in the international arrivals hall of Domodedovo airport,” the Russian investigative committee said in a statement.
Unnamed security officials have suggested a suicide bomber could be behind the blast. Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, has said those behind the bombing will be tracked down and punished, and ordered beefed up security across the country’s transport hubs.
Inside this backpack was a bomb. Not just any kind of bomb. An incredibly sophisticated bomb the likes of which law enforcement officials haven’t seen, loaded with shrapnel that was designed to hurt people. Worse, the bomb was placed in a position that was designed to attack a parade route in Spokane, Wash. The bomb was designed to be remotely controlled. And wanna know what that parade route was for? That’s right, an MLK Day parade. So why is this story getting underplayed? By, well, everybody? A few examples:
Buried a little
CNN: Buried in a list
Perhaps it hasn’t caught the full attention of the network that this might perhaps have been a huge terror attack. Ricky Gervais is in the infamous features slot. Also, the story’s short.
MSNBC: A video tease
Not a top news item, and further down the page than CNN. Considering the nature of the attack, doesn’t this seem like underplay? But at least they have a photo of the thing, right?
Further down the list …
Washington Post: Also buried
Even lower on the page than MSNBC, the Post’s coverage of the incident is just a link to an AP story, rather than any unique coverage from a local angle.
Fox News: Also buried
So, according to this list here, domestic terrorism ranks at a similar level as “Drug-Smuggling Pigeon Caught in Colombia.” Check. Great job.
WSJ: Near the bottom
Below such stories as “Is the NFL Telegraphing Drug Tests” and “Pandas Can Stay in D.C. 5 More Years” is a story about the incident. It’s short, but written by WSJ staffers.
NY Times: Hah! Yeah, it’s not here
The Times appears not to have given the story any play on its front page at all today. You have to go all the way to the bottom of the National page to even find it. It’s also from yesterday.
» Why this might be: We think there are a few factors at play here. First of all, since the bomb was caught before anyone was hurt, it effectively dulled its “immediate danger” factor. But the firepower of the bomb suggests a much more sinister danger and motive that should increase the story’s play, but isn’t due to its lack of obvious eye-catching imagery and clear motive. There’s a motive suggested by the situation and the nature of the bomb, but few details to back this up. The lack of details make it hard to play it up. (Even the Spokane Spokesman-Review has played it down at this point.) Finally, there has simply been a lot of news in the last two days – the health care repeal, Giffords, Joe Lieberman, Steve Jobs, etc., and it’s the kind of thing that might get buried. None of these are excuses for underplaying it, but just a thought process as to why this happened. source
I can’t help but wonder if there’s maybe something sinister going on with the way this story has been ignored. Maybe I’m just paranoid though.
Reagan declared a war on terror in 1981—he said that’d be the core of our foreign policy. And since then, I’ve been writing about terrorism using the official definition in the U.S. code, and in Army manuals, and, in fact, in British law. It’s a pretty good definition. Now that’s considered outrageous. And the reason is when you use the official definition, it follows pretty quickly that the United States is a leading terrorist state. Now that’s the “wrong” conclusion, so therefore we can’t use that definition. There are academic conferences and sober volumes on terrorism trying to find some appropriate definition, and the “appropriate” definition has a very definite condition to meet. It has to include the terror that they carry out against us but exclude the terror that we carry out against them.
Since 9/11, cryptology expert and security consultant Bruce Schneier has been one of the most pointed critics of the government’s anti-terrorism security programs. In his 2003 book “Beyond Fear,” he coined the phrase “security theater” to refer to measures which are undertaken not because they will be effective at thwarting attacks, but because the agencies carrying them out need to appear to be doing something useful. We spoke to Schneier about the recent controversy involving the Transport Security Agency’s use of invasive scanners and full-body pat-downs.
Q: What is really being seen by these machines?
A: Bruce Schneier: In theory, it sees stuff that isn’t part of the body. So if you’ve got a stapler in your pocket, it will show up. The thought is that it will see stuff that a metal detector won’t detect, like a ceramic knife. But this doesn’t seem to be borne out by reality.
Q: The machines have shown up in the wake of the so-called underwear bomber, who tried to blow up a plane with chemicals stored in his briefs. Would this technology have stopped him?
A: The guys who make the machines have said, “We wouldn’t have caught that.”
Q: So what kind of attack will this prevent, that otherwise might be successful?
A: There are two kinds of hijackers. There’s the lone nutcase, like someone who will bring a gun onto a plane because, dammit, they’re going to take the whole plane down with them. Any pre-9-11 airport security would catch a person like that. The second kind is the well-planned, well-financed Al Qaeda-like plot. And nothing can be done to stop someone like that.
Q: Has there been a case since 9/11 of an attempted hijacker being thwarted by airport security?
A: None that we’ve heard of. The TSA will say, “Oh, we’re not allowed to talk about successes.” That’s actually bullsh*t. They talk about successes all the time. If they did catch someone, especially during the Bush years, you could be damned sure we’d know about it. And the fact that we didn’t means that there weren’t any. Because the threat was imaginary. It’s not much of a threat. As excess deaths go, it’s just way down in the noise. More than 40,000 people die each year in car crashes. It’s 9/11 every month. The threat is really overblown.
Q: Do you think there’s been an over-reaction, on the part of the government and the press, to the underwear bomber?
A: That case was really instructive. Nobody was injured, and the plane landed safely. It was a success! And it was pre 9-11 security that made it a success. Because we screen for superficial guns and bombs, he had to resort to a syringe and 90 minutes in the bathroom with a bomb that didn’t work. This is what success looks like. Stop bellyaching!
Q: What’s the motive behind introducing this new level of security?
A: It’s politics. You have to be seen as doing something, even if nothing is the smart thing to do. You can’t be seen as doing nothing.
Q: Does it surprise you that at last, after several escalations in the TSA’s level of intrusiveness, the public seems to have finally rebelled?
A: Back in 2005, when this full-body scanner technology was first being proposed, I wrote that I thought this would be the straw that broke the camel’s back, because it would unite conservatives and liberals. Nobody wants their daughter groped or shown naked.
Q: Is privacy being violated, in your estimation?
A: You go get groped and you tell me.
Q: Have you had a pat-down?
A: Yes, actually, just a couple of days ago.
Q: Is this security theater?
A: 100 percent. It won’t catch anybody.
Jeff Wise is the author of Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger. For a daily does of fear, and how it pertains to our everyday life, go to Wise’s blog, here.
We are only Muslims … but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists and we will keep on terrorizing you
How’s that for a speedy trial?