The plot in Great Britain to blow up a bunch of airplanes flying from the UK to the US attracts another rightwing stupid comment – this time from the WSJ oped pages:
Meanwhile, British antiterrorism chief Peter Clarke said at a news conference that the plot was foiled because “a large number of people” had been under surveillance, with police monitoring “spending, travel and communications.” Let’s emphasize that again: The plot was foiled because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications. Which leads us to wonder if Scotland Yard would have succeeded if the ACLU or the New York Times had first learned the details of such surveillance programs.
Aha says Glenn Reynolds! So this means that President Bush is correct that we must trash our Constitution and our liberties to be safe – right? Not so fast says one blogger pointing to Spencer Ackerman:
it’s worth pointing out one key difference between the British way and the new American way of surveillance: Barring some unforeseen and massively scandalous revelation, British investigators, in all cases, have to obtain and comply with court-issued warrants for any surveillance. This week’s counter-terrorism success should demonstrate how possible it is, and remains, for open-society to combat jihadism while preserving the rule of law. In fact, let’s take that a step further. According to a U.S. intelligence official cited by the Post, some of the British terrorists placed phone calls to individuals within the United States. Whoever they called should very obviously be placed under surveillance. The FISA court would undoubtedly agree, despite Bush’s protests that successful counter-terrorism surveillance has to occur outside the restrictions of FISA. In short: counter-terrorism success, vigilance, the rule of law, and you – perfect together.
This week has been dominated by rightwingers telling us Democrats that opposing the Iraq War leads to more terrorist dangers, which of course, is perfectly backwards as our arrogance and incompetence during the invasion and occupation of Iraq took a beaten down and clueless Al Qaeda – clueless after they plan to suck us into a protracted US boots-on-the-ground civil war in Afghanistan utterly failed – more than they could have ever hoped for, but this time in Iraq.
President Bush is down in Crawford cutting down trees or whatever as M. J. Rosenberg comments on the political implications of what the New York Times noted:
The most frightening thing about the foiled plot to use liquid explosives to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic is that both the government and the aviation industry have been aware of the liquid bomb threat for years but have done little to prepare for it. What saved everyone was apparently superb intelligence work by the British, who apprehended the terrorists before they could carry out their scheme. It is unlikely that any of the scanning machines or screening personnel deployed at airports would have detected the potentially destructive materials before they could be carried aboard.
In other words, the Bush administration is not even meeting the bare requirements of fighting a war on terrorism: arming us to fight technologies they know are out there and which terrorists will use to kill us. It’s just like it’s ignoring the container ship issue. I wonder how many other of these technologies are out there which DHS knows about and does nothing to thwart. This is a natural issue for the Dems to use in the fall. But I see no evidence they will. As other posters have written, the Dems have allowed the GOP to own the terrorism issue. Most of them (not all) shrink from criticizing the administration on this because they are scared. In their hearts, they think the Repubs are more credible on terrorism so they keep quiet. That is why Bush never had to answer for being asleep at the switch on 9/11. And it’s why the GOP, and not the Dems, are likely to benefit in November from exposure of the UK plot. To put it simply. If Dems allow the GOP to use the terrorist issue against them, they do not deserve to control Congress or the White House. My guess, the Dems run and hide and the party responsible for US unpreparedness in the face of terrorism successfully uses the issue against Democrats. If that happens, we will know that it is third party time.
The Bush White House ignored the Al Qaeda threat during the summer of 2001. Since then, the Bush White House has demonized Democrats for being soft on terror as they do precious little. Thank God, the UK government is not so utterly incompetent.
Of course, Andrew Sullivan whines we Democrats have no plan. Kevin Drum could have gone insane over such stupidity, but thankfully, he noted the Democrats do have a plan very similar to what Andrew Sullivan would recommend. I’d hate to accuse Mr. Sullivan of dishonesty, so let’s just chalk this one up on the possibility that he is as clueless now as Condi Rice was five years ago.
Update: John Solomon reports:
As the British terror plot was unfolding, the Bush administration quietly tried to take away $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new explosives detection technology. Congressional leaders rejected the idea, the latest in a series of Homeland Security Department steps that have left lawmakers and some of the department’s own experts questioning the commitment to create better anti-terror technologies. Homeland Security’s research arm, called the Sciences & Technology Directorate, is a “rudderless ship without a clear way to get back on course,” Republican and Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee declared recently.
I guess the White House’s priorities are such that this $6 million could have been better spent for pork barrel spending to prop up Republican Congressional candidates. Hat tip to Think Progress.