Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Ridged, For Your Terror

 wanted to believe. I really kinda did.
I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. I mean, yeah, when Ridge comes out and yells "BOO", and says that the freedom-haters could strike anywhere at any time, OK, that's ass-covering bullshit. We all know and understand that. But when they name buildings and other specifics, I try to remain relatively uncynical, even though it's timed beautifully to step on the post-convention news cycle.
And when Joe Lieberman comes out and says he's sure the newest terror alert isn't politically motivated, I still try to remain uncynical, even though it's Joe Lieberman, who is consistently wrong about a great many things and is the second Democrat to call after Zell Miller when you need someone on the other side of the aisle to do Karl Rove's bidding.
And when I see pictures of submachine-gun-toting police glaring at New Yorkers, and hear Ridge tell everyone to "act normal" even though they're being randomly searched and glared at and entire blocks of cities look like something out of a dystopian, fascist future, I try to remain uncynical, because after all, I don't really want stuff to blow up.
And when the people issuing the warning admit that it's based almost entirely on four-year-old files dug up in Pakistan, I still try to remain uncynical. I utterly FAIL, of course, but still, I make the effort, and I should get some points for effort, given just how unspeakably evil and incompetent the people in charge actually are. Right?
But then you listen to the gloating, the justifications, and the rationalizations after the fact, and things start to fall apart, and you start to think you've been rooked. Again.
White House spokesman Scott "Trust Me" McLellan, said: "There's no evidence of recent surveillance ... but the information about the casings that we revealed Sunday have been updated as recently as January of this. We know that this is an organization that plans in advance." This is the kind of weaseling that smacks of "capacity to potentially produce weapons", frankly. Especially with McLellan also quoted as saying " think you have to keep in mind al-Qaida's history of planning attacks well in advance and then updating those plans just before attacking.", It's August. Eight months since the alleged "January update" that there's somewhat... sketchy evidence for to begin with.
This raises the question... how long do we keep the guys with sub-machine guns standing in front of any building found in a guy's house in Pakistan? Eight months? Four years? Indefinitely? Don't ask New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, because his position on heightened security is at best iffy:
"The only thing you ever know about security measures is when you didn't take enough. You never know when you took too many of them. We do what we think is appropriate," he said. Which is patently bullshit. I guarantee you that if you cavity-searched every single person going in and out of the New York Stock Exchange for a month, you'll find out very, very quickly that you've taken too many precautions. There's even a handy guideline, complete with a couple dozen amendments, to let you know when you've taken too many security measures. Don't give us that carte-blanche "appropriate" bullshit.
And then you've got Tom Ridge claiming that "We have made it much more difficult for the terrorists to achieve their broad objectives." Like fuck you have. Let's assume that everything they've said and done has been 100% true. You found one guy in one house in Pakistan who had plans to do Something Evil to a half-dozen buildings sometime in the last four years. So this week, you beef up security at those half-dozen buildings. At BEST, what you've done is made it more difficult for SOME terrorists to achieve a few VERY NARROW objectives. And that's if and only if the intelligence community and the Department of Homeland Security are operating at a basic level of competence, something there's been no evidence of to date.
The only thing worse than a bunch of overselling, dubious administration officials talking about terrorism are a bunch of LOCAL officials, whose areas of control weren't even mentioned in this supposed new intelligence, making sure they look good by stepping forward to assure their constituencies that they're doing everything in their power to thwart this new, non-existent threat to some other place.
Like L.A.'s mayor. "We have received no credible information to indicate any of these threats are directed against Southern California. However, we are going to continue to remain on a heightened state of vigilance." Whatever you do, don't tap this motherfucker on the shoulder. In his heightened state of vigilance, he'll probably punch you in the head. Look, I know it's disappointing that the East Coast mayors all get to keep looking tough and calling in the guard, but that's no excuse for this kind of ridiculous macho grandstanding. That's your governor's job.