Friday, February 10, 2006

Well, Bush released details yesterday of a foiled Al Qaeda plot in 2002 which had aimed at trying to fly a plane into the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles. Obviously Bush's goal in recounting such a story at this juncture was to build support for his national security "plan", and by extension to bolster security for his ongoing NSA domestic wiretapping program. The problem is that 1) intelligence officials broke up the plot early on (so it's not clear that the supposed plot ever posed a real threat to national security), 2) the work done on stopping this terrorist plot in 2002 had absolutely nothing to do with wiretapping and in no way seems to support its usefulness or validity, and 3) in truth, it sounds like we probably wouldn't have discovered this plot at all if it hadn't been for the helpful intervention of some unnamed Southeast Asian nation (which managed to catch a key Al Qaeda operative who was handed over to the U.S. for "debriefing"- and you can bet your ass that we've gotten pretty good at "debriefing" suspected terrorists). Basically, if the plot was real, it was pretty much dumb luck that prevented us from suffering another 911- not any kind of brilliant national defense strategy.

Anyhoo, this whole revelation seemed like a clumsy, desperate, and ham-handed effort by the Bush White House to justify what is clearly an illegal wiretapping operation. If America isn't afraid enough of terrorists to allow the president a little latitude for some illegal wiretapping, then we'll just remind them that terrorists are secretly plotting to destroy our country at every moment, but that the federal government is fighting the good fight to keep them safe. I've got an idea. Why don't we hire some Southeast Asians to hunt down terrorists for us? They seem to be better at it, and I bet they're not even tapping their citizens' phones.
Of course, nowadays so much of the rest of the civilized world hates, fears, and distrusts us (after the whole U.N. WMD presentation and our subsequent invasion and occupation of Iraq) that it's not clear that other countries nowadays would even want to bother helping us to foil a terrorist plot even if they had the opportunity. Thanks for the foreign policy, President Bush!!

Well, it's the weekend and the weather is gloomy and funky. I'm looking forward to going home and curling up with a good book and my three legged dog.

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