Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Anyone who knows me will likely tell you that should you ever hear me say anything good about the most recent Bush administration that you may want to get your ass to a Church because there is a decent chance that its a sign of the ends of days. However, some recent thinking I have been doing about Al Qaeda has led me to believe that the Bush Administration might have actually done something that prevented further attacks inside the United States for the seven years following 9/11 despite the general overall level incompetence shown by the White House in those years.

While the vast majority of the Bush administration's security policies produced nothing more than a frightened U.S. population convinced that Saddam Hussein had actually been behind 9/11 and that democrats hated the troops and were going to get us all killed, their scare tactics might have actually cut Al Qaeda off at the knees.

Now what I mean by all this is that with the Bush administration constantly talking about the imminent threat posed by Nuclear terrorism, anthrax and dirty bombs etc. that the bar for what would be considered impressive feats of terrorism have simply been set beyond Al Qaeda's tactical reach. While the Bush administration insisted that Al Qaeda was close to obtaining weapons of mass destruction for its own political purposes, the rest of the world (including the Muslim world) began to buy into the myth of Al Qaeda's power. At this point should Al-Qaeda perpetrate any attack against the US that was considered less shocking than 9/11, the rest of the world would view them as the relatively weak organization that they are.

Here are some facts for you. According to the Al-Qaeda defector Dr. Fadl, Bin Laden tried to purchase some highly enriched Uranium from a Sudanese General in 1993 for $1.5 million. Turns out the canister he bought was actually filled with a substance known as Red Mercury or "Cinnabar," a compound that physically resembles Uranium Oxide but is chemically quite different. This is the closest that Al-Qaeda has been to a nuclear weapon and that was back when bin laden had relative freedom of movement.

As far as Anthrax goes, no Muslim terrorist organization has ever approached the level of sophistication needed to produce Anthrax. As it turns out, the Anthrax attacks that killed five people back in 2001 were actually the result of an army biologist named Bruce E. Ivins who blew a gasket and decided to use American government produced anthrax against his fellow citizens.

Finally, not even Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese Cult that sought to speed up Armageddon by carrying out a Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway could properly pull of a successful mass chemical attack (12 people died). Aum Shinrikyo had over a billion dollars as well as high tech labs and technicians at its disposal, far more capability than any other terrorist group has ever had and even they failed to produce much more than temporary panic. Honestly, more destruction would likely be caused by yelling "Godzilla!" in the streets of Japan (bad joke...moving on)

Turns out carrying out attacks of mass destruction are hard and by setting expectations so high for Al-Qaeda, we forced them to make the strategic choice of trying to carry out less spectacular attacks that over time would destroy the myth of their power or instead rest on their laurels and allow self starter terrorists to draw inspiration from them. (they have gone with the latter)

My overall point here is that for the most part, terrorism is a nuisance not the likely apocalyptic reality that Dick Cheney would like you to believe. Occasionally, these groups can accomplish something big like 9/11, however, terrorist acts of mass destruction are the exception and not the rule. So take heed my fellow disciples of reason and realize that there may be some value to propping up the myth of Al Qaeda in the media, but when it comes to the list of things that keeps you up at night, don't let this be one of them.

And that's my fifty cents (inflation....)


homelesseus said...

Dr Fadl is not a "defector", he's a prisoner in an Egyptian jail. It's nice that he's now saying that Al Qaeda is immoral and responsible for so much death and destruction, but I would want to see if there are any burn marks on his testes before offering up his reversal as safe. There are a number of lingering questions regarding the Anthrax case, closed as the FBI has now determined, which when answered might point elsewhere entirely. And while it might be comforting to think of Bin Laden as having shot his wad, at least in terms of spectacle, it seems that anything that even remotely sniffs of a plot is an "existential" threat. So maybe BL doesn't need to one-up himself, each new event gets fitted to 9/11. Hyping Al Qaeda has done little more than preparing the groundwork for some of the most dramatic changes to our constitution, which may or may not have thwarted potential attacks. So far, the FBI record of investigations, indictments and convictions looks pretty paltry--more hype than substance.

homelesseus said...

The real issue for me is: in what way has this nuisance changed us, and the world? I would say it has had a chillingly negative effect on issues such as human rights, individual rights and democratic aspirations around the world. Simply put, we've given cover to everyone everywhere who wants to put down legitimate challenges to his power. Isn't it extraordinary that the aesthetic aspect of the event seems to have allowed it to leapfrog other equally atrocious events in the hierarchy of horrors in our minds, the "world's mind"? We over-reacted in such a stupid and ill-conceived manner (thanks to arrogance really, nothing but hubris and latent racism) that we might have put ourselves in the most danger in our country's history, including the civil war. That's a failure at the highest levels and at the lowest. What's the percentage of Americans that don't vote?

Think of the money, yours and mine and the money of your loved ones, that is going down the hole we dug "over there"? The questions should be simple, assuming we know what are the "real" motivations behind US actions in SE ASIA and the ME. If it's oil, and that trumps other considerations--and that might be the long view, "existentially"--then cut the bleeding and go for the heart. If it's really to encourage "democracy" and "the enemy" at the same time, then we're doomed to play out the fantasy. the Economy might wake us up but if that happens it won't be on the right side of the bed. Who is responsible for this debacle? Since the end of the Soviet collapse, what have we been doing? Dismantling ourselves, at home and overseas? Reminds me of the story of the old lady who suffered many years under the tyranny of a stupid and mean husband. When she died, everyone thanked God, she was now free. But she didn't, she died soon after from loneliness.

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