Detroit Terror Plot

terror-busterThe botched attempt by one Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, allegedly somehow connected to al Qaeda, attempting to blow up a passenger jet as it made its descent into Detroit quite naturally has the blogosphere buzzing.

Richard Fernandez and Josh Marshall have good roundups of the news as  it was developing throughout the evening, along with the rampant speculation that was going on.   Even 18 hours or so in, the known facts are few at this point.

WaPo:

A Nigerian man, claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda, allegedly tried to set off an incendiary device aboard a transatlantic airplane Friday as it descended toward Detroit’s airport in what the White House called an attempted act of terrorism.

The man was quickly subdued after another passenger leapt on top of him, others on the plane said, and Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam landed safely around 1 p.m. Friday. The suspect was being treated at a hospital for burns he suffered while igniting the device, the Transportation Security Administration said.

The FBI is investigating the incident. President Obama, celebrating Christmas in Hawaii, was informed about it, a spokesman said, and he asked aides to ensure that all measures are in place to provide secure air travel.

What, he hadn’t previously asked that?! Or, more to the point, he had to ask?!

Officials said they are not prepared to raise the terrorism alert level, currently at orange — or the second-highest of five levels — for domestic and international air travel. However, the Homeland Security Department said late Friday that passengers “may notice additional screening measures, put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights.”

Lovely.

Although not on the TSA’s “no-fly” list, Abdulmutallab’s name appears to be included in the government’s records of terrorism suspects, according to a preliminary review, authorities said.

You’d think there would then be a list of “screen this guy extra careful” for people like this. Especially when they’re 23-year-olds named Abdul.

Abdulmutallab has told federal investigators that he had ties to al-Qaeda and traveled to Yemen to collect the incendiary device and instructions on how to use it, according to a federal counterterrorism official briefed on the case. Authorities have yet to verify the claim, and they expect to conduct several more interviews before they determine whether he is credible, the official said.

Federal authorities have been told that Abdulmutallab allegedly had taped some material to his leg, then used a syringe to mix chemicals with the powder while on the airplane, one official said.

So, apparently, middle-aged Americans flying from, say, Washington to Detroit are screened much more thoroughly than terrorist suspects named Abdul connecting from Yemen.  Lovely.

But doing so “caused him to catch on fire,” Richelle Keepman, who sat a few rows in front of Abdulmutallab, told WDIV-TV.

Another passenger on Flight 253, Syed Jafry of Holland, Mich., told the Detroit Free Press that he noticed a glow three rows ahead in the Airbus 330, then smelled smoke. The next moment, Jafri recounted, “a young man behind me jumped on” Abdulmutallab.

Jafry said there was a lengthy commotion, after which the passenger was restrained in a first-class seat as the plane continued its landing at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

Officials described the device as incendiary rather than explosive, pending tests by forensics experts at the FBI. Incendiary devices generally deliver less of an impact than explosive devices. The remains of the device used are being sent to an FBI explosives lab in Quantico for analysis, federal law enforcement and airline security sources told CNN.

For many national security analysts, the Christmas Day incident called to mind the bizarre case of Richard C. Reid, a British citizen who trained at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. Reid attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes on a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001.

And we’re still going through a ridiculous screening of our shoes thanks to this.

More from NYT:

“This was the real deal,” said Representative Peter T. King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, who was briefed on the incident and said something had gone wrong with the explosive device, which he described as somewhat sophisticated. “This could have been devastating,” Mr. King said.

The incident is likely to lead to heightened security during the busy holiday season.

It was unclear how the man, identified by federal officials as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, managed to get the explosive on the plane, an Airbus A330 wide-body jet carrying 278 passengers that departed from Amsterdam with passengers who had originated in Nigeria. A senior administration official said that the government did not yet know whether the man had had the capacity to take down the plane.

“We’re trying to ascertain exactly what he had and what he thought he was doing, but our sense is he wanted to wreak some havoc here and was attempting to do just that,” the official said. “Whether at the end of the day he had the ability to do that is what I think we’ll be able to pull together over the next several days as we investigate this.”

[…]

“It’s too early to say what his association is,” the counterterrorism official said. “At this point, it seems like he was acting alone, but we don’t know for sure.” Although Mr. Abdulmutallab is said to have told officials that he was directed by Al Qaeda, the counterterrorism official expressed caution about that claim, saying “it may have been aspirational.”

The incident unfolded just before noon. “There was a pop that sounded like a firecracker,” said Syed Jafry, a passenger who said he had been sitting three rows ahead of the suspect. A few seconds later, he said, there was smoke and “some glow” from the suspect’s seat and on the left side of the plane.

“There was a panic,” said Mr. Jafry, 57, of Holland, Ohio. “Next thing you know everybody was on him.” He said the passengers and the crew subdued the man.

Steven Taylor identifies a “paradigm shift in action.”

One of the reasons (if not the main reason) that the 9/11 attacks worked as well as they did (well, three of the four attacks) was that the paradigm in effect regarding airline hijackers was that hijackers want to go somewhere, so passengers and flight crews should cooperate.  That paradigm shifted quickly and violently between the two attacks on the WTC/the attack on the Pentagon and the passenger revolt on United 93.  Once it became clear that hijackers and the like on flights were a danger that required direct intervention, the ability of attackers to operate under the old paradigm was gone forever.

Exactly right.  Starting with Flight 93, passengers realized they would die if they didn’t act.  So they act.  Remember, Richard Reid was thwarted, too.

Many, correctly I think, are drawing the preliminary conclusion that Peter King and others should quit grandstanding over these incidents and giving these yahoos so much attention because, when it gets down to it, they’re not that big a threat.

Matt Yglesias:

Obviously, people shouldn’t be lighting anything on fire inside airplanes. That said, all the big Christmas airline incident really shows to me is how little punch our dread terrorist adversaries really pack. Once again, this seems like a pretty unserious plot. And even if you did manage to blow up an airplane in mid-air, that would be both a very serious crime and a great tragedy, but hardly a first-order national security threat.

[…]

Ultimately, it does no favors to anyone to blow this sort of thing out of proportion. The United States could not, of course, be “devastated” by anything resembling this scheme. We ought to be clear on that fact. We want to send the message around the world that this sort of vile attempt to slaughter innocent people is not, at the end of the day, anything resembling a serious challenge to American power. It’s attempted murder, it’s wrong, we should try to stop it, but it’s really not much more than that.

Thoreau:

1)  Whatever it is that he did or tried to do, he didn’t hurt anybody other than himself.  Let’s not get TOO scared yet of the terrors posed by liquids.  (Would it be wrong to wish that more terrorists set their own legs on fire?)

2)  Although he flew through international airports, which (as I understand it) all screen for liquids, security apparatuses failed to stop him from trying to do what he tried to do.

3)  Passengers, on the other hand, managed to subdue him.  So, our score is 1-0 passengers-security.

Despite these facts, I’m quite confident that this Sunday when I fly again the TSA will do really stupid things that won’t actually accomplish any good.

[…]

Would it be too much to ask that the security apparatus use this thing called a “brain”?  If we really are in danger, using our brain is probably better than not using it.  And if we aren’t in danger, using our brain will keep us from doing pointless things.

Andrew Sullivan adds:

[W]hen I watch little old ladies have their lipstick removed in the security line and my own mother all but strip-searched coming to my wedding, you wonder why someone named Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab who’s on a no-fly list could have gotten through security with an explosive contraption strapped to his leg. Or are we only as safe as the Nigerian TSA equivalent allows us to be?

I’ve flown out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and recall the security being rather tight for international flights.  Indeed, it was as big a hassle as I can recall in this regard.  We were cordoned off into a separate room, screened, kept quarantined for what seemed like an eternity, and then (I believe) screened again before boarding.  Then again, Schiphol was my point of departure; I don’t know whether they apply these or any screening measures for those coming through on connecting flights from the developing world.

Spook86 speculates that, “Based on what we know right now, it seems likely that Al Qaida has new explosive materials that can defeat existing security measures. There is also the possibility that Mudallad had assistance in getting the device or materials on the aircraft.”  Well, maybe.  But most airports aren’t screening our persons for hidden syringes.  They’re scanning for metal — great for detecting belt buckles and keys; not so much plastic and chemicals.   So, unless they’re going to do pat-down searches of every passenger — or at least those intrusive scans that show what’s beneath everyone’s clothes — I’m not sure how you stop somebody from smuggling a few ounces of liquid aboard.

Bernard Finel thinks this is likely:

If it turns out he’s actually a known extremist, we’re going to need to think seriously about a biometric-based traveler screening system.  A watch list with names rather than other identifiers gives so many false positives that we’d probably let someone named Osama bin Laden walk onto an airplane assuming it was just a coincidence.

In my non-expert opinion, that’s ridiculous overkill.  We’ve had a handful of incidents in the eight years since 9/11, all of them amateurish and easily thwarted by existing security measures or other passengers.  Alas, the natural pressure is for politicians like King to go before the cameras and demand ever more security theater.   At least this sort of thing might actually add to our security, although at a tremendously poor security to cost ratio.

John Cole nails it.  Connecting this incident with the crazy woman who has now twice managed to get to Pope Benedict — who has as good a personal security apparatus of any man on the planet — he observes, “There are no zero risk situations in life for the Pope, and there are none for you, either. I hope our elected leaders keep that in mind.”

They, of course, won’t.

FILED UNDER: National Security, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. tom p says:

    A few years back I was in Spain over the X-mas holidays. The day before we flew back, ETA blew up a parking garage at the Madrid International Airport. We came into Madrid the next day on a connecting flight, and watched with no small amount of trediation, as the clock ticked off minute by minute as we went thru hyper-enforced security procedures, and barely made our flight.

    All I could think the whole time I was standing in first one line, than another, than a 3rd, getting asked the same inane questions repeatedly, and having my carry-on repeatedly “strip searched” (and myself all but)(and my wife, my 2 sons, my step-daughter…Would we all make our flight? If not, what do I do then?) was,

    “What? You think ETA might to decide to leave the country today? From here?”




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  2. steve says:

    Everyone should go back and read Golldberg’s (Fallows?) series on getting through airports. They carried Hizbollah and Hamas flags. They smuggled on large amounts of liquids with one one of those artificial beer bellies. They convinced TSA employees that they needed two bottles of eye cleaner because they had two eyes. They created and used boarding passes on their home computers. In response, the TSA sent out a letter that pretty admitted they can only catch the dumb terrorists.

    Once you get through being snarky, your ending is correct. There is no perfect safety. We should also keep in mind that the jihadists are not interested in killing Americans just for the sake of killing. If that were the case, a Mumbai type attack is unstoppable given our open Southern border. Their hope is to make a splashy attack that generates publicity AND will provoke an over response. There are very few terrorists. They need force multiplication. A failed attack that costs $2,000 but results in our spending billions on useless responses is a win for them.

    Steve




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  3. Norman Rogers says:

    Many, correctly I think, are drawing the preliminary conclusion that Peter King and others should quit grandstanding over these incidents and giving these yahoos so much attention because, when it gets down to it, they’re not that big a threat.

    Huh?

    There is a fanatical army of militant islamists who will sacrifice their lives to wreak murder and mayhem against the western world. Not that big a threat? Well, yeah — nearly all of us would survive a radiation bomb or chemical/biological attack in NYC. Our economy would recover, no harm done, right?

    Wrong — our freedom depends on our readiness and our will to bring harm to those who would harm us. Killing one or a few thousand isn’t the issue. The DC snipers only killed a handful of people (and for sure, they were islamist terrorists, too). Should we poopoo such threats, too?

    Get real.




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  4. There is a fanatical army of militant islamists who will sacrifice their lives to wreak murder and mayhem against the western world. Not that big a threat? Well, yeah — nearly all of us would survive a radiation bomb or chemical/biological attack in NYC

    There’s a lot that could be said about this statement, but let’s cut to the chase: what James is rightly noting is that we are not facing a massive biological/chemical or radiation attack on NYC. Instead, we have been faced to this point by things like the attempt yesterday and Richard Reid.

    Part of the problem is that people leap from a guy who catches his leg on fire to economy-crippling bio-attacks. Indeed, it was the logic reflected in the above quoted paragraph that lead to any number of poor policy decisions in the post-9/11 period.

    Yes, a terrorist threat exists, but we need to adequately assess it,not leap to worst case scenarios.




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  5. Franklin says:

    A few random thoughts:

    1) I’ve flown from Amsterdam to Detroit. I was strip-searched at the end because my co-worker had long hair and geez, we MUST have had weed, right? I bet you guys long for the days when only those dirty hippies got searched.

    2)

    Although not on the TSA’s “no-fly” list, Abdulmutallab’s name appears to be included in the government’s records of terrorism suspects, according to a preliminary review, authorities said.

    WTF? We’ve got *millions* of people on the no-fly list, mostly 3-year-old kids and dead people, and a *known* terrorism suspect isn’t on it? How exactly is this oh-so-useful list compiled?

    3)

    Officials said they are not prepared to raise the terrorism alert level, currently at orange — or the second-highest of five levels — for domestic and international air travel.

    Honestly, I wasn’t aware they were still using that system. Has it ever been under the middle level (don’t ask me the color)? Has any passenger, other than chickenshits like Norman Rogers, ever changed their flight plans based on it?

    4)

    Starting with Flight 93, passengers realized they would die if they didn’t act. So they act.

    Yup.

    5) On a unit cost per life saved, fighting terrorism’s gotta be pretty high on the list. People *should* be more scared of cancer (a slow painful death) that a bit of early screening often prevents.




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  6. I’m with Steven on this. I find it somewhat reassuring. We speculate on smallpox attacks or nuclear attacks and we get some dumbass blowing up his own leg. I don’t think we’re going to need Jack Bauer to deal with this guy.




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  7. Grewgills says:

    I’ve flown out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and recall the security being rather tight for international flights. Indeed, it was as big a hassle as I can recall in this regard. We were cordoned off into a separate room, screened, kept quarantined for what seemed like an eternity, and then (I believe) screened again before boarding.

    That has not been my experience there (in and out 8 or 10 times in the past 5 years or so). Our luggage was screened while we were in line for boarding passes then a relatively quick interview at the gate. I did get a little extra attention when I had a shaggy beard and my Dutch friends thought I looked like Mohamed B but nothing like your experience.

    http://xkcd.com/651/




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  8. Norman Rogers says:

    Steven Taylor writes, [W]e are not facing a massive biological/chemical or radiation attack on NYC.

    Huh, do you truly believe that this is not “they’re” intent? That “little” incidents like this one (only intended to bring down a jetliner) aren’t examples of an intent and willingness to hit us wherever they can (any vulnerability they detect)?

    And Franklin thinks I’m a “chickenshit” for recognizing our responsibility to bring harm to those who would harm us (I think it’s the other way around, Franklin).

    George W. Bush carried the fight to our enemies. Chickenshits like Franklin would argue that we can survive anything they can do to us — we should just suck it up and take it. We should take President Obama’s lead and try to befriend these fanatics, lest they attack us.

    What nonsense. We have an obligation to punish those who would attack us. That means I would risk my life to attack those who would harm Franklin (though perhaps my heart wouldn’t be in it).




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  9. Herb says:

    Steven’s got a great point, but I’m skeptical that this is part of a “terrorist plot.”

    First, he’s Nigerian and that particular West African country is more associated with confidence schemes than jihadism of the Al Qaeda stripe.

    Second, early reports said he lit a firework. It was later amended to the “explosive device” stuff, and then later amended even further to “incendiary device.” Either term applies to a firework. But a firework isn’t going to bring down a plane. (This is where Steven’s point comes in.)

    Third, Peter King is saying the guy is linked to Al Qaeda. I mean, if I want reliably untruthful spin, I ask Peter King his thoughts on a subject. If I want reliable information on a subject, I ask Peter King…then believe the opposite of what he tells me.

    The guy is not a “straight shooter” at all.

    We’ll see what happens, but I expect the “terrorist plot” stuff to fizzle, much like it did with the Ft. Hood shooter.




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  10. steve says:

    “Huh, do you truly believe that this is not “they’re” intent? That “little” incidents like this one (only intended to bring down a jetliner) aren’t examples of an intent and willingness to hit us wherever they can (any vulnerability they detect)?”

    Nope, if they just want to kill Americans they can cross from Mexico anytime and start shooting and bombing. There is clearly a political message and reaction they want to evoke. Something like spending billions invading other countries needlessly.

    Steve




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  11. Herb says:

    “George W. Bush carried the fight to our enemies.”

    Say what? The last two “terrorist attacks” came from Nigeria and a major in the United States Army. What did George W. Bush do about them? Oh, that’s right…nothing.

    But here’s what George W. Bush did do…

    He left Afghanistan to Obama to clean up, and he invaded Iraq. Only one of these is related to terrorism, and as detrimental as it may be to the strength of your point, he screwed both of them up.

    Sorry, Norman, but the George W. Bush approach has been fairly discredited when it comes to dealing with Al Qaeda, and it has NO relevance to these upstart terrorists we’re facing now.




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  12. anjin-san says:

    George W. Bush carried the fight to our enemies

    Well, he carried the fight to Iraq, a nation that did not threaten us. We did make quite a few NEW enemies though. That was just after he let Bin Laden, Mullah Omar & Co. get away.

    Then he “destroyed” the Taliban, and had a cool speech about it on an aircraft carrier. Oh, wait. The Taliban is still very much a going concern, and we were losing the war in Afghanistan when he left office.

    Norman, pull the sheets back over your head and get back to trembling in fear. The rest of us are busy trying to deal with the train wreck that Mr. Bush left us…




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  13. Neo says:
  14. Herb says:

    Forget all that “I’m skeptical that this is part of a “terrorist plot” stuff. As more information comes out, it’s looking more and more like this guy was indeed a jihadi and he wasn’t just setting off fire-crackers.




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  15. James Joyner says:

    Huh, do you truly believe that this is not “they’re” intent? That “little” incidents like this one (only intended to bring down a jetliner) aren’t examples of an intent and willingness to hit us wherever they can (any vulnerability they detect)?

    When analyzing a threat, you must weigh both intent AND capability. Most of these guys are inept wannabes. And, I’m afraid, someone competent, well financed, and intent on doing us harm could easily bypass our security protocols. Thankfully, very few people possess the whole package and we’ve done a pretty good job of catching them ahead of time.




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  16. Norman Rogers says:

    James writes, When analyzing a threat, you must weigh both intent AND capability. Most of these guys are inept wannabes.

    Did you even do any investigation into this incident before writing your post? This WAS a sophisticated plot — just like Reid’s. There was an organization behind this guy. This was Al Queda.

    It didn’t take an army to knock down the WTC on 9/11. It just took some fanatics, some pilot training, some box cutters, and a whole lot of sophisticated organizing (and a few hundred grand).

    These people are looking to find vulnerabilities in the “soft” west. They’ll keep trying, and they’ll find some.

    The way to deal with them is to break their will to fight (same for all wars). I for one would go after their fathers and their brothers and their sisters and their brothers and their uncles and their aunts and their cousins whom they reckon by the dozen. We wouldn’t have to kill them all. We just have to convince them that we’re prepared to kill them all.

    That’s why pussies like sans-engine hate GWB. He fought!




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  17. James Joyner says:

    Did you even do any investigation into this incident before writing your post? This WAS a sophisticated plot — just like Reid’s. There was an organization behind this guy. This was Al Queda.

    There’s zero evidence that this was centrally planned. A guy calling himself “al Qaeda” doesn’t make him a non-idiot.

    It didn’t take an army to knock down the WTC on 9/11. It just took some fanatics, some pilot training, some box cutters, and a whole lot of sophisticated organizing (and a few hundred grand).

    Mostly, it took passengers sitting there like sheep because of a culture of “just let the hijacker go where he wants and you’ll be unharmed.” That changed 3/4 of the way through the 9/11 plot, hence the actions aboard Flight 93 and against the shoe bomber and Detroit yahoo.




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  18. Norman Rogers says:

    James writes, There’s zero evidence that this was centrally planned. A guy calling himself “al Qaeda” doesn’t make him a non-idiot.

    Right — if you don’t want to look for it, that’s what you’ll find.

    There have been reports out for hours that this guy was refused re-entry into Britain (he had completed collge there) and that he had obtained the chemical weapon in Yemen.

    James — it doesn’t take much of a bang to cause explosive decompression of an airframe — and subsequent loss. Look at Pan Am 103. How big do you think that bomb was?

    As I recall, the GWB doctrine was to go after those who would do us harm — and the countries that harbor them. What’s Obama’s (of the day)?




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  19. anjin-san says:

    That’s why pussies like sans-engine hate GWB. He fought!

    He fought. Badly. Hardly a badge of honor. God only know s how many tens of thousands died unnecessaraly, or how many new terrorists were created.

    Obama has had to send scores of troops (who are fighting and dying, even as you TALK about fighting) to clean up GW’s mess in Afghanistan.

    As for you name calling – only pussies call guys pussies while hiding behind a computer. Generally when a man is cheering so loudly for OTHER men to go off to fight and die they are trying to compensate for some pretty serious inadequacies.

    Anyway, you have had all the attention you merit. We don’t need another bithead.




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  20. James Joyner says:

    As I recall, the GWB doctrine was to go after those who would do us harm — and the countries that harbor them. What’s Obama’s (of the day)?

    I voted for Bush twice and against Obama but that’s rather silly. Bush didn’t go after Nigeria or Yemen. And Obama’s continuing to go after al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.




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  21. anjin-san says:

    It’s worth noting that some of the hysteria we are hearing must be music to Bin Laden’s ears. What it the point of terrorisim? To terrorize, of course. Our enemies want fear and overreaction. They know they can’t defeat us in battle.

    Iraq is a perfect case in point. Bin Laden is on record saying they he knows he can’t defeat the U.S. in a military sense, and that he intends to destroy us economically. After about a trillion dollars worth of bleeding in Iraq, Bush leaves office with the economy far too close to collapse for comfort.

    Sadly, fear works on a lot of people. Look at this post. A lone inept would-be terrorist has some folks calling for genocide against Muslims. Sad almost beyond belief.




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  22. Norman Rogers says:

    James, your post was all about pooh-poohing an obvious terrorist attack — and your claims that we ought not to worry about it because it was ineffective. You had no answer when I drew the comparison for you about 9/11 (not exactly hi-tech, was it?).

    And sans-engine, the problem isn’t Muslims — it’s Islamicism. But, I guess you don’t understand the difference. OBTW — a “score” numbers twenty (Four score and seven is 87). You just can’t deal with our obvious success in Iraq.

    Not to worry, if Obama has his way, we’ll cut and run like the Democrats did in the seventies in Viet Nam.




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  23. Not to worry, if Obama has his way, we’ll cut and run like the Democrats did in the seventies in Viet Nam.

    I sometimes have a hard time understanding the hysterical mind, so can you clarify? Are we supposed to go to war against Nigeria or Yemen or the UK? Or is it the Netherlands we should bomb?

    I just need to understand who, precisely, we’re supposed to bomb.




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  24. anjin-san says:

    I just need to understand who, precisely, we’re supposed to bomb.

    Anyone and everyone, as long as it will keep the fraidy-cats feeling a little safer. Apparently the untold thousands of innocents who died in Iraq were not enough.

    Do you suppose this is bitsy, come back under a different handle? Same combination of fear, ignorance and rigid adherence to dogma. Sounds dumber than bit though…




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  25. I don’t think it’s Bit. Bit falls into that unique category of “dumb but not un-intelligent.” This guy is more your garden variety dumb.




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  26. anjin-san says:

    Does anyone have a link to bit’s swan song post? Afraid I missed it…




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  27. Norman Rogers says:

    For Michael — the reference to Vietnam was that the Democrat controlled congress cut off funds in the seventies that would have permitted our air force to interdict (that means “bomb” to you morons) the North Vietnamese supply lines as they invaded (and subsequently conquered) South Vietnam.

    In the present day you ask if we should bomb Yemen and others. Well, if they were harboring enemies of these United States, sure. Next question?

    And sans-engine, haven’t you read the news? Iraq is a success story. The people over there don’t want us to leave. Oh — you’re still stuck on stupid.




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  28. In the present day you ask if we should bomb Yemen and others. Well, if they were harboring enemies of these United States, sure. Next question?

    Actually Yemen is struggling desperately to defeat Al Qaeda, which has an enclave in Yemen. You may recall that just last week the Yemeni Air Force was credited with killing a number of Al Qaeda bad guys. Saudi Arabia is aiding Yemen in this fight, and there is some speculation that the US is as well. So bombing Yemen might be a bit unhelpful.

    Getting back to your rant about Obama: just who do you propose blowing up? How exactly should Obama be reacting? What’s he not doing that he should be doing?




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  29. anjin-san says:

    This guy is more your garden variety dumb.

    Quite right. And thus, not worth the effort…




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  30. Norman Rogers says:

    For Michael — Um, when did I suggest that the proper strategy for anything was “blowing someone up”? You must have me confused with sans-engine (who exists in his own reality).

    If the government of Yemen acted as did Mullah Omar — and harbored Bin Laden, of course we should take action (as did GWB). Would Obamah authorize an attack on a Muslim nation? You answer that.




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  31. Norman:

    Um, when did I suggest that the proper strategy for anything was “blowing someone up”?

    Well:

    I for one would go after their fathers and their brothers and their sisters and their brothers and their uncles and their aunts and their cousins whom they reckon by the dozen. We wouldn’t have to kill them all. We just have to convince them that we’re prepared to kill them all.

    That’s why pussies like sans-engine hate GWB. He fought!

    That kind of looked like a blow-up-their-sh*t approach to me.

    In the present day you ask if we should bomb Yemen and others. Well, if they were harboring enemies of these United States, sure. Next question?

    And here you actually named a target.

    Would Obamah authorize an attack on a Muslim nation? You answer that.

    Do you read the news ever?

    Obama advocated Predator strikes inside Pakistan during the campaign. That policy was denounced by McCain and Palin and the GOP. We are now, in fact, striking into Pakistan.

    Further: under Obama we have properly defined that war as an AfPak war, no longer pretending that Pakistan is irrelevant or invisible.

    Obama rushed troops to Afghanistan immediately upon taking office because Mr. Bush had left the situation dire. He has now added a surge of additional troops and gotten a NATO promise of 5000 men.

    Or the short version: you don’t really know much about what’s going on the world.




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  32. anjin-san says:

    Iraq is a success story

    For Iran, certainly. We deposed their great enemy, and removed a military threat that helped keep them in check. I am sure that they are quite pleased to have a government in place in Iraq that tilts twoards Iran. And all it cost us was about a trillion dollars and 4K + American dead.

    (but what are a few dead GIs to a tough-talking conservative online fighting man)?




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  33. Norman Rogers says:

    Michael, there’s a difference between striking at a country — and striking within a country. Obama’s missile attack within Yemen does appear to have been more effective than Clinton’s — which killed a camel in one instance and destroyed an aspirin factory in another.

    But, can you see Obama authorizing an attack on Iran? Or Pakistan? (Not that I’m advocating either — both are far too large [much bigger than Afghanistan or even Iraq] and would require enormous expeditures of blood and treasure to pacify).

    What I wrote earlier was that we need to be feared to be respected. The notion that we should abjure from reprisals against family members of terrorists doesn’t win us any respect from those who would do us harm. The opposite, however, would likely deter many of them.

    In any event, this is much different than waging war or indiscriminate “bombing” on or of sovereign nations. Clear now?

    Bringing this back to the original post, this was obviously a planned attack by an organized foe — not a “lone gunman”. Just like Richard Reid. And Joyner’s silly take — that we ought to ignore these things because they’re not doing real harm to us as a nation — is just plain wrong-headed. We cannot allow attacks on our people. We cannot.

    For sans-engine — I’m sure you consider 4,000 dead GI’s, “a good start”. Too bad for you that we were successful in Iraq. Kinda destroys your meme, doncha think?




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  34. Norman Rogers says:

    Just Breaking — [Nigerian] Man arrested in new disturbance on Detroit flight. The same flight as yesterday’s incident. Gee, are they related? Ya think?

    Nothing to see here, right James? They can’t hurt us. They’re not organized, right? No plots here.




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  35. Norman:

    It appears he was dragged from the bathroom. He may have had diarrhea.

    That’s right: Al Qaeda appears to possess laxatives.




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  36. anjin-san says:

    What I wrote earlier was that we need to be feared to be respected.

    No doubt Bin Laden had similar thoughts as he was planning 9.11.

    Too bad for you that we were successful in Iraq.

    Actually I am pleased that Bush finally pulled his head out of his ass, stopped listening to Cheney, and salvaged something from the distaster that he created. Still, was it worth the cost to our country? Of course not. For one thing, we took out eye off the ball in Afghanistan, where our enemies really are. When fighting George left office, we were losing that war, and Pakistan and its nukes are in jeapordy of being captured by the Taliban that GW supposedly destroyed back in ’03.

    But that will not take the truly stupid on the right off the talking points, no sir.

    I’m sure you consider 4,000 dead GI’s, “a good start”.

    Kinda makes me wish you were here so you could see how saying something like that to my face works out 🙂 But we will have to just let the sheer pathetic nature of your remarks speak for themself…




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