Friday, August 11, 2006


Yeah, I suppose one could speculate about this (from The Washington Post):

Some U.S. counterterrorism officials said plans originally were to allow the conspiracy to develop even further. But U.S. and British investigators made a sudden decision this week to close down the operation after they became increasingly worried that there were other bombers they had been unable to locate or identify, U.S. officials said.

Or made a sudden decision this week to close down the operation because Karl Rove believed that arrests at this time would dovetail perfectly with his campaign to make the entire '06 election a referendum on Ned Lamont and to portray Ned Lamont as terrorism's pal? (The "other bombers" factor being less relevant than the authorities are letting on?)

So, OK, I'm a bit slow on the uptake. I still believe this plot was essentially as described (though I take Steve Gilliard's point that these guys couldn't have been all that slick if they allowed their cell to be so thoroughly penetrated by the cops) -- but I'll question the timing.


Scroll down here for more from Gilliard about what stumblebums these guys were. We may be a lot more afraid of this particular group than we need to be.


ON THE OTHER HAND: If this Daily Mail story is correct, there was going to be a dry run today and the real thing was supposed to happen next Wednesday. (Though on the other other hand, this is sourced to "One US intelligence official," not to authorities in the U.K. And, of course, saying the arrests happened now because the plot was about to be hatched contradicts what's reported in The Washington Post above, which is that the arrests happened now because the authorities had lost track of some plotters.)

Screw it, my head hurts. I'm sorry I even addressed this question.

I will point out to right-wingers who are demanding stepped-up racial profiling at airports that one of the plotters was "Don Stewart-Whyte," who "converted to Islam six months ago." He's the gentleman on the left here. He doesn't look like a damn dirty Ay-rab because, well, he isn't one.


And as I noted in comments, this is not a sign that everything we've heard about the plot is a lie. The security staff at an airport in Heartland America are trying to prevent the possible mixing of chemicals to create an explosion by having everyone who's trying to carry liquids on board pour those liquids into the same big container? That's just standard-issue American duh-I-didn't-think-of-that.

I don't want to denigrate Asheville Regional Airport's Department of Public Safety, but...


UPDATE: Or is it even dumb? I overlooked the obvious:

Most liquid explosives would require a detonator, but a music player or other hand-held passenger gadget has sufficient electrical energy to do that, experts say.

This stuff isn't going to blow up just because it's mixed, right? It has to be detonated.

Theoretically, terrorists could call an audible, all line up to pour their chemicals in the same jug, then set it off using a handheld gadget. Conceivable, I guess, but unlikely.


ONE MORE DAMN UPDATE AND THEN I'M WASHING MY HANDS OF THIS: In comments, Skimble and darms note the instability of this stuff even in the absence of anything to detonate them.

But that just makes me want to revert to my major-league-case-of-dumbass theory to explain why the airport would treat the liquids this way. I don't get paid to know this stuff, but doesn't the chief of public safety at Asheville Regional Airport, Jeff Augram? Is he still also doing the morning traffic report at the local right-wing talk radio station? If so, and if we're worried that they're trying to kill us, could we please pay airport security chiefs enough that they don't feel the need to moonlight? And can we hire for brains, or at least common sense?

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