If you’ve watched TV, listened to the radio, read a newspaper or browsed the InterTubes in the past 24-hours, then you’ve surely heard about the “unthinkable” plot to blow up JFK Airport, that was foiled just in the nick of time:
A retired airport cargo worker and a former member of parliament in Guyana were among four men charged with a plot that officials said was intended to cause mass casualties and cripple one of the world’s busiest travel hubs.
Investigators acknowledged, however, that the scheme was so nascent that there was no developed plan for how the plotters would get explosives, let alone gain access to the tanks and pipelines they hoped to target.
Um… forgive me for being cynical, but we’ve been lied to so many times before, with Bush administration propagandists transforming the angry ramblings of narcissistic pizza-boys into sophisticated, 24-like conspiracies, well… I’m having trouble taking any of these stories seriously. I mean, I suppose I wouldn’t chafe so much at the inconvenience of the enhanced security restrictions put in place in the wake of the infamous “plot” to bring down a jetliner by mixing a high-powered liquid explosive mid-flight, if the would-be terrorists actually had the resources or know-how to carry out their threat, or if the plan was at least, you know, scientifically possible.
“The devastation that would have been caused had this plot succeeded is unthinkable,” Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said at a Saturday afternoon news conference in Manhattan to announce the arrests.
Yeah, and one of the things that makes this plot so “unthinkable” is that it couldn’t possibly have worked. Fuel pipeline and storage tank explosions do occasionally happen, and while they can be tragic in their own right, they don’t result in the immolation of entire storage facilities or miles of pipeline. Fuel is volatile, and so engineers tend to build in automatic cutoffs and other safety stuff like that. It’s not like you can just light a fuse and the entire thing goes boom.
Can one imagine a plot like this succeeding in temporarily shutting down JFK? Sure. But then, so can a blizzard or an afternoon thunderstorm. Hell, if disrupting air travel is your goal, I’m guessing a bomb threat could be just as effective as an actual bomb, and much easier to execute. Leave a few identical, unattended bags scattered throughout the terminals, and then just sit back and watch the mayhem.
And while government officials were publicly painting the main suspect as a “self-radicalized New Yorker … plotting to betray his adopted country with a catastrophic attack,” off the record, a federal law-enforcement official admits that the suspect seemed more like a “sad old guy who’s got a lot of spit and vinegar in him.”
Mmm. Add a little salt, pepper and spices, and you’ve got the makings of a low-cal salad dressing.
Defreitas “had some ideas” about what he wanted to do, said the U.S. law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But he was a long way off from being operational or even coming close to getting explosives or posing a direct threat to JFK.” The official characterized the seriousness of the plot as “a notch below Fort Dix” — the recent case in which a group of Muslim men in New Jersey were charged with planning a sniper attack on the military base.
Uh-huh. And I suppose, as far as serious terrorist threats go, the headline on this post ranks just a notch below the alleged JFK plot. We just don’t know how widely spaced the notches are.
I’m not implying that this story was fabricated or that we shouldn’t maintain our wariness, but while there are crazed religious fanatics out there, seemingly intent on destroying America, none have the means like those who currently occupy the White House. As sure as night turns into day, or our terror alert level turns from yellow to orange in the weeks before an election, the Bush administration routinely trots out hyperbolic accounts of would-be dirty bombers and pizza snipers and other such evil-doers in a transparent effort to frighten the American people into propping up their sagging support for a war in Iraq that is needlessly killing thousands of American soldiers, bankrupting our children’s future, and destroying our credibility overseas.
Ironically, these mini victories in “The War on Terror” prove exactly the opposite of what the Bushies contend: it is not a massive display of military force that disrupted these “terrorist” plots, but good, old fashioned police work. If the JFK and Fort Dix conspiracies really were anything more than just idle, angry fantasies, then they were criminal acts, and our law enforcement officials should be thanked for yet another job well done. But these same officials do themselves and our national security a disservice when they allow their efforts to be manipulated for propaganda purposes by our war-mongering White House.