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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Roger Cohen's "The Real Threat to America": Thanks, Roger, for Letting Us Know

In an online op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "The Real Threat to America" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/26/opinion/26iht-edcohen.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), Roger Cohen would have us know, "it remains a mystery that the enemy — if as powerful as portrayed — has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11."

Roger seems to have a very short memory. Months after becoming a U.S. citizen, Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, was given $15,000 and five days of explosives training by the Taliban earlier this year in order to plant a car bomb not far from the The New York Times building in Manhattan. When sentenced by a federal court, Shahzad declared that Osama bin Laden "will be known as no less than Saladin of the 21st-century crusade". He further declared: "Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow."

Roger has also forgotten the attempts by al-Qaeda less than a month ago to send printer cartridges containing PETN, a highly powerful odorless military grade explosive, on flights to the U.S.

These two recent incidents are among those known to the public.

Cohen goes on to write: "America is a nation of . . . risk-taking." Notwithstanding Cohen's sensitivities involving full-body scanners, I think there are few Americans willing to take the risk of boarding a flight on which a determined enemy has hidden PETN.

Full-body scan or leave my family in an explosion at 30,000 feet? Sorry, Roger, if I choose life with the accompanying indignity.

[Query: Are op-eds at The New York Times subject to fact checks? Cohen's contention that "the enemy . . . has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11" left me stupefied. Perhaps he reached this conclusion after speaking with Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who not long ago went on record as saying that "al-Qaeda no longer poses a threat to the United States" (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/10/jg-caesarea-award-for-stupidest-member.html).]

10 comments:

  1. "When sentenced by a federal court, Shahzad declared that Osama bin Laden "will be known as no less than Saladin of the 21st-century crusade". He further declared: "Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow."

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    "The war with MUSLIMS has just begun"

    Not MUSLIMS EXTREMISTS, not "TERRORIST MUSLIMS", the sentenced terrorist said "war with MUSLIMS". The sentenced terrorist means "ALL MUSLIMS".

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  2. > Roger seems to have a very short memory. Months after becoming a U.S. citizen, Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, was given $15,000 and five days of explosives training by the Taliban earlier this year in order to plant a car bomb not far from the The New York Times building in Manhattan

    Great point. So terrorists don't attack airlines anymore, because it's harder now. Instead, they can attack businesses, places of worship, stadiums, YMCAs, the list goes on and on and on. Perhaps we should put TSA at Amtraks and subways and posts along the interstates. Then we can get security in buildings and feel as equally safe there as we do on an airplane. Or, we could realize this is costly and ineffective.

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  3. When has the TSA ever prevented an attack? Don't tell me its classified because as is the way of any bureaucracy, had they had even one minor success they would have found a way to trumpet from the roof tops. TSA had no part in the Times Square bomber's apprehension. It was through aware citizens taking action that the attempt was foiled. It was passengers that foiled the shoe bomber, underwear bomber, not TSA's disregard of our 4th Amendment ... When are you sheep going to wake up?

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  4. Anonymous,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Judging from what you say, you have never hunted a terrorist, questioned a terrorist or seen the aftermath of a terror bombing. I am not seeking to "demean" you in any way, but I would suggest to you that al-Qaeda operatives are neither stupid nor lacking in imagination, as suggested by one highly reader-recommended response to Cohen's op-ed.

    Suppose now that you were given the option of flying without any security check whatsoever (supposing also that you could find a pilot crazy enought to fly you somewhere under these circumstances). Would you board the flight, or would you prefer to know that there are no handguns being carried onboard?

    PETN has today become the "explosive of choice" of al-Qaeda. Are you willing to board a plane knowing that there are no handguns, but aware that an al-Qaeda operative boarding with you could have stitched a small quantity of PETN into his leg or shoved this odorless substance into a body cavity?

    You prefer profiling to a body scan? Profiling is as good as the profilers. Some will be talented; some will be distracted or indifferent. Draw your own conclusions.

    You are not being forced to fly, and you can drive almost everywhere to avoid going through airport security. Re the TSA, you are probably missing the much larger picture of concentric circles of protection.

    Personally, as a courtesy to the flight crew and other passengers, I am more than willing to be subjected to the "indignity" of a body scan, thereby allowing those on board to rest easier.

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  5. These machines are not restricted to airports. Van-mounted body scanners are roaming the streets, albeit not many, but it's still a fact. Courthouses, malls, banks, sporting events, et cetera, where do you draw the line? Maybe we should just put a micro chip in everyone. Seriously though, Mr. Caesarea, where's the backstop and how much are you willing to put up with in the name of safety?

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  6. Dear JG, you are totally mixing apples and oranges. Full body scanners and extreme pat-downs had done nothing to protect us from neither 'the Times Square bomber', nor 'printer cartridges containing PETN'. See it, extremists have already won. Again they are using our own equipment against us: instead of air-liners, this time fear mongering media machine and our own security bulwark. Reminding, the world's safest airline company El Al uses none of these extreme and intrusive search methods. Being the flag carrier airline of Israel they sure are in terrorist's radar.

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  7. Thanks, Rick and Salmon Smoker, for your comments. There's nothing left, right or doctrinaire about me. Rather, it's all about saving lives and balancing security requirements against freedom from intrusion.

    El Al's system, involving the efforts of highly motivated young men and women who have completed their army service, works wonders, but it is not practical in the U.S. for a variety of reasons, which, if they were to be spelled out, would require a lengthy article. I would only observe here that every system involves its advantages and disadvantages.

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  8. Sir,
    Our liberties are at stake. I' am as you should be amused at the word terrorist, because it has worked perfectly, not only for them, but for every terror consultant and maker of every anti-terror device.
    We, sir have become exactly what the terror and the government wants us to be; sheep.
    There is no need for this type of evasive procedures. They need competent people working not what we have now, all else is just an excuse for somebody's pocket to be lined.

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  9. Actually, Jeffrey, no disrespect intended, but I think you are the one who has failed to check your facts here.

    Can you specify where and when a terrorist attack has been successfully carried out on American soil since 2001?

    Can you specify where and when a terrorist attack has been successfully carried out aboard an American airliner since 2001?

    Can you specify the number of dead and/or injured and where and when these attacks occurred?

    Please be very specific, sir. Thank you.

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  10. Thanks for your comment.

    Cohen writes: "it remains a mystery that the enemy — if as powerful as portrayed — has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11."

    Now go to a dictionary (no disrespect intended) and look up the word "contrive". My Random House Dictionary of the English Language provides the following first two definitions: "1. to plan with ingenuity; devise; invent: the author contrived a clever but unrealistic plot. 2. to plot (evil, treachery, etc.)."

    Sorry, but nowhere is there a mention of "successful" perpetration, as you would redefine the word. Does this mean that "someone" has been doing their job well, or would you prefer to believe that there have been no plots against American civilians since 9/11? The evidence - including that which is known to the public - conclusively demonstrates that there have been such plots. Moreover, even Obama acknowledges that is a matter of time until such terrorists do in fact succeed in perpetrating another abomination. In Woodward's book, "Obama's Wars", Obama is quoted as saying that the U.S. could "absorb" another such attack in response to repeated warnings from his advisers.

    So the question is whether you personally are willing to be the one who "absorbs" that attack. Al-Qaeda's "explosive of choice" is now PETN. Are you personally willing to board airplanes without any security check (provided you can find a pilot crazy enough to fly that plane)? Should the evidence and warnings concerning PETN simply be disregarded, i.e. passengers should only be checked for knives and handguns?

    And by the way, if you are asking for specifics involving a recent example of a terrorist incident on U.S. soil that resulted in fatalities, you need only read up on the 2009 Fort Hood shooting.

    Thank you again for taking the time to comment.

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