Cliff May at the National Review wrote:
OK, so “there is no evidence” the accused Ft. Dix plotters “received direction from international foreign terrorist organizations.”
And, as many in the MSM are noting, they do not appear to be highly trained professionals. That’s true also of others arrested since 9/11 (e.g. Richard Reid and the cells in Buffalo, NY and Florida).
What is not being mentioned: This could be a very positive sign. It could mean that we’ve eliminated many of the most skilled and experienced terrorists, many of the most qualified terrorist trainers and international ring masters — that we’ve either killed them or imprisoned them at Guantanamo or at some secret prison somewhere.
The terrorists who bombed the WTC in 1993 were not very good at their jobs. Over the next 8 years, al Qaeda climbed a steep learning curve while U.S. intelligence analysts, covert operatives, military and law enforcement officers did little to prevent it.
If we’ve learned from that, good for our side, good for Bush and the CIA and the FBI and others all of us criticize.
May is partly wrong. (Presumably, they wouldn’t let him put something up at the National Review if he wasn’t at least partly wrong.) The folks that carried out 9/11 were pretty incompetent too. It wasn’t exactly a difficult thing to do at the time. The concept showed a bit of imagination, but not a huge amount: crashing planes into things had been done before in books, and I would think, in movies. And I’ve been saying for a while: Al Qaeda is incompetent. And the folks our troops are battling in Iraq are pretty incompetent. Its their incompetence that saves us given the quality of our leadership.
Think for just a few minutes. Say you have a few men that aren’t afraid to die and have no qualms about killing innocent people at your disposal and your goal was to cause as much damage as possible to American society. You should be able to come up with a few that would have large effect on American society, even if the only qualifications of those men is that they can handle a weapon or a bomb and can walk down a city street without calling excessive attention to themselves. With 19 such men, the number employed on 9/11, you can shut down Las Vegas, or every large university in the country, or (more chillingly) every elementary school in any big city in the country for weeks. And you can do it in one day at very low cost, and you might not even lose most of your 19 men so you can do it again.
And yet, so far, thank goodness, our enemies haven’t been able to muster even that. Counting on their continued stupidity, ineptitude and stupidity is not a good thing. Of course, they’re counting on ours, and so far so good for Osama.
Update… its not just them foreigner crazies that are incompetent. Our homegrown variety are generally not that bright either. McVeigh clearly did quite a bit without using much equipment, so he is something of an exception. But consider what Eric Rudolph might have pulled off with some brains. And having smarts in one area doesn’t mean competence at wreaking havoc or the Unabomber might have done a lot more damage.
Note… please, no suggestions as to how someone could “do it” in comments. Thanks.