Sunday, May 09, 2010

The World's Dumbest Terrorists

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I've got to tell you, folks, terrorist attacks ain't what they used to be. I remember the days when Al-Qaeda and their fellow travelers in the Islamic lunatic fringe were putting together complex, coordinated, multiple-target attacks with highly trained, well-drilled operatives like Mohammed Atta. Remember him? I mean, the dude even looked scary. And they brought down entire skyscrapers and put holes in the nerve center of America's military command.

And now? We've got a dumb teenager carrying around explosives in his undershorts that he doesn't know how to set off. In the latest botched effort, we've got a guy who looks like a cell-phone salesman loading up an SUV with fertilizer and propane tanks and trying to detonate it with firecrackers.

Except the fertilizer he used wasn't the kind that explodes, anyone who watches the show "Mythbusters" knows how hard it is to blow up a propane tank, and this doofus walked off and left his "cleverly disguised" bomb with the motor running, the hazard lights blinking and the keys in it - on a key ring that included his freakin' house key.

I'm not trying to minimize the threat from terrorism. Even an idiot can put together an attack that kills people, and one innocent person dead is too many. But let's be real: We are not looking at the first-string here, people, and haven't been since that "shoe bomber" guy.

In a sane world, these guys would be the lead stories on one of those "World's Dumbest Criminals" shows. But this is not, as we know, a sane world, especially where there are people whose political fortunes, and whose TV ratings, depend on keeping everyone in a constant state of panic.

Just like clockwork, the usual gang of hysterics began shrieking about how we're all doomed, doomed I tell you. And why? Because not only did the cops not whisk Faisal Shahzad off to Gitmo for a lengthy waterboarding, he was - horror of horrors - read his Miranda rights (as if, after 11 years in the U.S., he'd never seen a TV cop show and didn't know them already).

Honorable John McCain worried that reading Shahzad his Miranda rights would be a "serious mistake," while Rep. Peter King fretted, "I know he's an American citizen, but still," thus invoking the well-known "but still" exception to the Constitution. (King, it should be noted, was a staunch supporter of the bomb-happy Irish Republican Army, so I guess he doesn't mind terrorists if they speak with a charming brogue.)

Only problem with all this hand-wringing is that, even after being informed of his right to remain silent and without benefit of torture, Shahzad has been talking to the FBI since he got yanked off a Dubai-bound plane. He's giving up people right and left. Seven co-conspirators have already been arrested in Pakistan, and it looks like there are more to come.

Ah, the panic-mongers say, but Shahzad was allowed to get on a plane. He almost got away. Doesn't this mean the Obama administration has botched the War on Terror?

Really? Well if "almost" is going to count, then someone needs to call up the coach of Butler University. Because, you know, they almost beat Duke, and by wingnut logic, that makes them National Champions.

But an "almost" attack by someone who "almost" got away is apparently enough for the wingnuts' best friend, Joe "Man O' God" Lieberman, to propose new legislation to allow the State Department to, without a hearing, revoke the citizenship of American citizens suspected of terrorism.

Yes, you heard that right. Holy Joe wants to give Hillary Clinton the right to revoke people's citizenship, without a hearing, to make it easier for Evil Obama's Tyrannical Government to lock them up. You'd think the tea partiers would be unhappy about this, but they apparently can only get really mad if you cut their taxes or try to get everyone health care.

Hey, here's a wild idea: How about we fight terrorism by not letting fear drive us into giving up our values and creating a society where the government can, with the stroke of a pen, declare you a noncitizen without a trial, all because some disgruntled loser failed to set off a bomb?

Why don't we fight terrorism by not being terrified all the time?