Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Tightroping the "Politics of Fear"

President Obama has a problem on this “national security” thing. He wants to trumpet his accomplishment of killing Osama bin Laden, and has done so at no small length, but realizes that doing so creates an issue with the “politics of fear” that has been such a key portion of his public persona. With Osama bin Laden dead, who is there for us to be afraid of? Oops.

Enter the “second generation underwear bomb,” and be very afraid, America, because “this one might have worked.” Notice the “might” in that purportedly alarming statement, which naturally comes from “undisclosed sources” who have the bomb in their possession and “will examine it” and “test its explosive power against airplanes.”

Now, you might think that our government would wait until they have actually tested the device, so that they could tell us the precise nature of the threat, but that risks having to tell us that it would not destroy anything bigger than a Mini Cooper and would only moderately damage a Ford Focus. By displaying a pair of underpants and hyperventilating about 767’s they can create a far greater need for an increase in the Department of Homeland Stupidity budget.

They also tell us that this device had the magical property of being undetectable in airport security, not realizing that raises the question of why, then, are we still going through all of than invasive and inconvenient nonsense before being allowed to get on a furshlugginer airplane?

And with bin Laden dead we need a new “bogeyman” so now have one Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who is being credited with Mensa caliber intelligence and a mind even more devious and evil than bin Laden; our new “enemy number one” who is endlessly dreaming up new and dangerous ways to “attack the homeland.”

(Every time I hear that "homeland" bullshit I keep tending to break out into
 a chorus of "Deutschland Uber Alles.")

And now it turns out that the guy who was buying the airline ticket while wearing the explosive underpants was actually a CIA agent, which pretty much makes the whole thing perfect. The CIA has now joined the FBI in protecting us from plots which were fomented by itself. Like the guys in Cleveland who were going to knock corporate signs off of headquarter buildings but were persuaded by the FBI agents that blowing up a bridge would be way more cool.

One wonders why the CIA guy didn’t just shoot the bogeyman when he was given the explosive underpants, but that would have been too simple and would have left the whole security apparatus with nothing to do for weeks and weeks while a new plot was being dreamed up, and it would have left Obama’s campaign without a bogeyman.


bruce said...

and of course there's the ominous intonation of the dreaded 3am phone call and the opposition candidate doesn't have the stones to handle it.. Excuse me, where have we seen this before?

Someone please put the above post into a political ad... it's amusing in its absurdity.

Arthur said...

In all fairness, the agent in question would not have gotten out alive if he had shot anyone within the cell. That might have mattered to him, if not to his handlers. And if Al Quaida in Arabia's operational security was half as good as I could dream up, there was at lest one intermediary getting the bomb from Al-Asiri & giving it to the nominal suicider/actual mole.
Further, if he had just shot the maker, we wouldn't have gotten the bomb. Which means someone else would have used it, bringing down a plane. And even if it hadn't worked, they would have know that, as well as whether or not it got through security. As it is, they don't know whether it would have done either of those things, while we eventually will.

On the other hand, "Homeland Stupidity" tells us that we should be even "more afraid" of that bomb that "might have worked" than the pundits have implied. Unless you are an American, of course, in which case you should be very proud of your government's ability to invade your privacy. Because, as it turns out (surprise, surprise!) only our our invasions could have (oops, "probably would have") found it; unlike, say, every one else's, which definitely would (oops, "almost certainly not") have found it.
Right, sure -- we are so great, no one else is any good at all. If they're not the enemy then they're useless: that attitude bothers ME even more than our amorality!

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