Saturday, June 30, 2007

Reactionary Extremes...
Hysterical media & "yuppie terrorists"

A considerable amount of Monday morning quarterbacking going on at ex-CIA Larry Johnson's blog, No Quarters in the past day on the attempted London car bombings.
Johnson poo poo'd the "non bombs" and the hysterical media coverage, stating that those within a small footage radius would suffer little more than ear damage. Posters, anxious to carry Johnson's attempt at a reality check to a new extreme, went predictably further... ultimately coming around to the "blame Bush" tired argument. Oh yes... Bush and the new Brit PM did it to aid in their anti-terrorism goals. AQ not involved... this despite the twilight intelligence status.
Oh puleeze. I must remember my promise to self never to read poster comments. Quite depressing seeing the thought process and conspiracy theory 'tudes of the masses. That so many choose to believe terrorists and jihadists don't exist is evidence of an ever spreading pollyanna "victim" mentality. No bad guys but our gov't. And, of course, not the pure Congress members... just the WH inhabitant... providing he has the initials of GWB.
Swinging the pendulum the other way, the media, quick to capitalize on terrorist fear - as is their trademark since 911 - runs non-stop coverage of the two cars and ensuing Glasgow burning car crash and arrests. Immediate aftermath coverage provides hyped analysis, and few seem to be content to wait for investigative facts before expounding with various "experts". sigh... By the time the facts slowly roll in, they are oblivious to the egg on their anchor desk mugs for their previous commentary. The "exit poll" method of reporting news is still alive and well... facts be damned.
What we have here are two reactionary extremes. And truth be told, both are bothersome.
On one hand, I unequivocally agree with Johnson that the press coverage is over hyped and unwarranted. Keep in mind this is the source that gives us 24/7 Paris, Brittany and Rosie too. Can't expect much from a media that can't multitask, or refuses to be patient enough to wait for facts over speculation. The hazards of filling air time for 24 hour news stations, I guess...
Terrorists' most effective weapon is fear. And the press, always with an eye on ratings and sensationalism as a primary objective, is a more than willing partner in the terrorist goals. Reining in the press, and their self-discipline, has proven impossible. Their coverage is, after all, agenda driven - a dichotomy to all journalistic ethics from the past.
On the other hand, I disagree with Johnson that this is little more than a prank pulled by "yuppie terrorists", as the ex-CIA agent called them on the Olbermann interview yesterday. Evidently Mr. Johnson wasn't keeping up on the latest that the cars were stolen.
To overly dismiss the intents of even ineffectual terrorists assaults as "crock" flies too far to the other extreme. Part of the world's largest problem is the willingness to face the nature of a tenacious, amoral enemy. And tho an attempt to murder innocents is botched, the intent to kill remains. Rest assured, there are plenty of like radical minds willing to make sure these same thugs do a better job next time.
However dismissal of terrorism as a world threat is nothing new to Johnson. He did author "The Declining Terrorist Threat" that appeared in the NYTs July 10, 2001... that's two months and 1 day prior to the Twin Towers falling and almost 3000 deaths. To put Mr. Johnson's perspective in focus, he's not necessarily saying that political Islam terrorism isn't a threat. It just isn't as much of a threat as....say... nuke weapons. Althought I'm hard pressed to figure out how he thinks the two don't have a common thread.... terrorists would love nothing more than to get their hands on a nuke. And there's certainly nothing wrong with trying to bring down the amount of nukes in the world while simultaneously attempting to wipe out manical political Islamists.
Johnson heard from a few UK denizens on his casual attitude towards the events. Johnson retorts to one in particular, leading with a few personal insults, citing the lack of collateral damage in the London and Glasgow bomb attempts - followed rapidly by his request the dissenting poster leave for fear of lowering his conspiracy theory fans' IQ levels... no dearth of ironic humour there.
This begs the question... just how many have to die or be injured in a terrorist attempt before Mr. Johnson deems the terrorism threat serious?
Johnson's Olbermann interview clearly shows he has opinions on Iraq - aptly demonstrated when he compares the wall to wall coverage on the London attempts to the non-coverage of the daily car bombs in Iraq. (see link above to video for the full points he makes, condensed here). Again, Mr. Johnson and I differ. He, obviously, places more media value/weight on successful terrorist attacks in Iraq, and I prefer to see more press attention paid to Iraqi/US forces successes... i.e.the 26 possible Iranian-linked terrorists killed in joint raids. The nuances are distinct, and important.
That aside, what I believe Johnson misses is that terrorist attacks in Britain are *not* the daily fare - unlike in Iraq or Israel/Palestine. This thug mentality continuing to creep to other western countries is more than worthy of attention... not hysteria, mind you, but most definitely warrants a wary eye. It is clear indication that they will stop at nothing, and go anywhere for their jihad. They will be more than happy to make daily car bombs "the norm" in any western country. The NIMBY attitude is dangerously inappropriate when it comes to political Muslim terrorism.
Johnson blames the US presence in Iraq - stating that we are aggrevating Muslim terrorists and instrumental for increasing their attempts - even botched. I'm not sure how a man who spent so long with the CIA can miss the simple facts: that we were not in Iraq or Afghanistan when the terrorists took down the Twin Towers on 911... nor when they tried to do the same in 1993 for the first WTC bombing. Nor were we in Iraq/Afghanistan when they boldly attacked the Cole... a US warship.
It's like this, Mr. Johnson... the terrorist thugs are aggrevated because, unlike the decades past, we are finally fighting back. Swat at a wasps' nest, and they come out mad. However don't swat at it, and the wasps still come out, sting, and proliferate. Mr. Johnson and those of his views must believe a few wasp bites here and there (despite increasing frequency and numbers) is preferable to swatting and attempting to remove the nest. Not in my book.
What Mr. Johnson should remember from his service is that terrorist attacks on western interests have been increasing for decades... all to the deliberately blind, cavalier eyes of previous administrations and career Congress members. To make light of their unsuccessful, and almost laughable attempts to murder is just as dangerous as the media chicken little dance.

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