Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg
While his predecessor is barnstorming the country, fulminating about the myriad terror plots against us with bug-eyed, bald fury, current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a simple, common sense message: "get a life."

Here's the story, here's the

(CBS) NEW YORK While questions continue to arise about the alleged plot to blow up a fuel pipeline beneath JFK Airport and surrounding neighborhoods, some are questioning why New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hasn't had a louder voice since the plot was foiled on Saturday.

On Monday, Bloomberg finally weighed in, but his response was not what some would have expected.

"There are lots of threats to you in the world. There's the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can't sit there and worry about everything. Get a life," he said.

That "What, me worry?" attitude pretty much sums up Bloomberg's advice to New Yorkers on the terror plot. As far as he was concerned, the professionals were on it, so New Yorkers shouldn't let it tax their brains.

"You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist," he added.
Amen.

Meanwhile, even more questions are being asked about the supposedly dastardly plot, which is growing less dastardly with every new detail (and every new arrest of an old fart supposed terrorist). Aside from the physical impossibility of blowing up the fuel lines under the airport and killing thousands of Queens residence, even if this group of four geriatric West Indians had the wherewithal to get their hands on explosives and fuel, there's the fact that the plotters were apparently being led by a homeless bookseller. Not exactly the al-Qaida A-team.

Rush, O'Reilly and the other bandleaders for the crazed are beside themselves that the media won't give the story more hyperventillation and front page space. But you know what? I think the first day of overwrought coverage, featuring a Bush appointed, totally incredible U.S. attorney, was about enough.

Back to the questions. This appeared in today's Newsday:

When U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf described the alleged terror plot to blow up Kennedy Airport as "one of the most chilling plots imaginable," which might have caused "unthinkable" devastation, one law enforcement official said he cringed.

The plot, he knew, was never operational. The public had never been at risk. And the notion of blowing up the airport, let alone the borough of Queens, by exploding a fuel tank was in all likelihood a technical impossibility.

And now, with a portrait emerging of alleged mastermind Russell Defreitas as hapless and episodically homeless, and of co-conspirator Abdel Nur as a drug addict, Mauskopf's initial characterizations seem more questionable -- some go so far as to say hyped.

"I think her comments were over the top," said Michael Greenberger, director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland. "It was a totally overstated characterization that doesn't comport with the facts."

Greenberger said he has no argument with police pursuing and stopping the alleged plotters.

"I think they were correct to take this seriously," he said. "... But there's a pattern here of Justice Department attorneys overstating what they have. I think they feel under tremendous pressure to vindicate the elaborate counterterrorism structure they've created since 9/11, including the Patriot Act."
And this from terrorism expert Peter Bergen:

"Obviously they're talking about stuff," he said. "But did they have the capabilities or training to do it? The answer is obviously not. It seems to me the reason the London plot worked is these guys had gone to an al-Qaida training camp. ... To become an effective terrorist, generally you have to go to a training camp. Timothy McVeigh was an effective terrorist because he could draw on his years of military background."

In this case, the alleged plotters had no money and never succeeded in hooking up with the head of an Islamist group in Trinidad called Jamaat al Muslimeen, according to the criminal complaint. While alleged mastermind Defreitas told the FBI informant that he learned to make bombs in Guyana, there is no other indication of technical expertise. Friends say he supported himself by selling incense on street corners and collecting welfare.
And besides:

Steven Simon, a terrorism expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the government's hyperbolic descriptions -- whether of this case or of the alleged plot to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago -- could erode public confidence in law enforcement and lead to confusion about the terror threat.

"First, it creates the public impression that the adversary is just a bunch of losers who do not have to be feared," he said. "Second, the fact that these hapless people are angry enough to seek to attack the U.S. raises the issue of other more competent, well-organized groups that might be escaping police detection."...
And yet, those facts haven't stopped the right from attacking, not just the media, but Bloomberg, too. Here's Bloomberg publishing competitor Investors Business Daily:

Bloomberg's kind of thinking, compared by a local New York City TV news show to the "What, me worry?" attitude of Mad Magazine's jug-eared mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, was exactly the kind of smugness practiced by government officials in the pre-9/11 era — dangerously outdated as we wage a global war on terror.

America's founding fathers warned that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, but in the 21st century it may very well become the price of life, too. ...
blah blah blah blah, you get the picture.

Well I say, you GO Bloomberg! It's about time somebody made some damned sense.

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