Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Terror Freakout Redux

I am, perhaps, merely being cynical, but…

Bush uses the fear card to stampede Congress into trampling all over civil liberties. News items are headlined to the effect that Bush and Company are committing another abuse of power, while others praise the executive for protecting us from certain death and destruction. But too many headlines are of the former variety to suit Rove and Company, so you know what comes next, right?

Yes indeed, it’s time for another terror scare.

Well, no, we don’t have a new terror scare handy at the moment, so here comes ABC News with headlines on an old one which has already been laughed out of town. Plot Would Have Killed Thousands screams the headlines, but the plot was, of course, a full year ago. Their definition of news is, um… "We’re releasing this now because, um, the Department of Homeland Stupidity gave it to us now and we’re gullible enough to salute smartly and run it for them."

The big bang shown that they claim was a liquid explosive triggered by a “tiny charge of electricity?” They don’t say how much liquid was involved, what temperature it needed to be maintained at, how carefully it needed to be handled, and whether or not a detonator was required. Perhaps there were just two wires from a battery dipped into the liquid?

That plane that gets blown in half? It was a test having to do with Flight 803 and had nothing whatever to do with liquid explosives.

They don’t of course, mention that the terrorists had no passports, airline reservations or tickets and they do not say whether or not they had any of the actual liquids in their possession.

“If the plot had succeeded,” Chertoff bleats, “it would have rivaled 9/11.” Blah, blah, blah terrorist blah blah blah explosion blah blah 9/11 blah blah blah killed. Yeah, we get it

It’s kind of fun to parse the statements. “We evaluated the amount of liquid needed for the explosion. That’s why the limit is three ounces.” Is that the same as saying “Four ounces of liquid can blow an airplane in half.” (?)
No, not quite. Are they expecting us to believe that four ounces of liquid purchased in a drugstore created the explosion we saw at the beginning of the news item? Well, yes, actually they are. And if you do believe that, I have some land in Florida with an ocean view I'd like to talk to you about.

Further, the three ounce limit was set just a few hours after the plot was interrupted. They “evaluated the amount” in those few hours? Not quite. That three ounce limit was, and is, purely arbitrary and was set completely without rational basis.

ABC News advised us that the liquids “can be bought in any drugstore,” dramatically blurring the image of the drugstore rack so we won’t get any ideas about what those liquids might be, and just in passing adds, “there is some question whether the potential terrorists would have had the skill to properly mix and detonate their explosive cocktails in-flight.”

Yeah, there were some questions about the skillset of the baggage handler that planned to blow up the fuel system at JFK airport, too. And the guys in Miami that were planning to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago using combat boots. And the guy planning to drop the Mackinac Bridge with cell phones. And…

But you get the point.

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