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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Jumping to conclusions

I realize that authorities have a concern about making sure that people don't get panicked when there is a news of a terrorist attack, even one that we were so fortunate that it didn't work. But our leaders should also be super careful about not going on TV and making assumptions that they can't possibly know in the early stages of the investigation.

Here is what Mayor Bloomberg said on CBS
Bloomberg later told CBS Evening News Anchor Katie Couric that the suspect behind the bombing attempt could be a domestic terrorist angry at the government who acted alone.

"If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that. Homegrown, or maybe a mentally deranged person, or somebody with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill or something. It could be anything," he said.

"There is no evidence here of a conspiracy, there is no evidence that it's tied into anything else. It looks like an amateurish job done by at least one person," he told Couric.
How would Bloomberg know that there was no conspiracy?

And why throw out there the possibility that it was a mentally deranged person or give as an example that it might have been someone who "didn't like the health care bill or something?" Why throw out there such musings in the first place? And how convenient that the example he chose was a conservative who didn't like Obama's agenda.

And then there is Janet Napolitano who went on the Sunday shows to allay anxieties.
Janet Napolitano, the US Secretary of Homeland Security, said today that the unexploded car bomb found in Times Square in New York late yesterday appeared to be an "amateurish" terrorism attempt.

Ms Napolitano said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security and the City of New York were examining security video from the area around the vehicle, a Nissan SUV, which was towed early on Sunday to a forensic lab in Queens after a robotic arm was used to break the windows and remove the most dangerous materials.

There was no information to suggest that there are any other terrorism targets linked to the incident and the evidence so far suggested that this was a "one-off attempt", Ms Napolitano told Fox News.
Is it amateurish simply because it was detected and didn't kill anyone? How do you define a professional terrorist? And how would she know that it was a "one-off?"

And Bloomberg and Napolitano weren't the only ones.
A couple of hours later, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, stood in front of a CNN camera in Times Square and said, “The odds are quite high that this was a lone wolf.”

Representative Peter T. King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Homeland Security, suggested that the reason behind the attempted attack was “the whole issue with ‘South Park,’ which Islamic terrorists were threatening to have retribution for.”
Yes, people on the internet had speculated that there was a connection to "South Park," but someone in an authoritative positions shouldn't be speculating on that any more than Bloomberg should be guessing randomly that it was someone who opposed ObamaCare.


And now that we find that the police have arrested a naturalized citizen from Pakistan, all these pronouncements seem quite silly.

Reactions to this story should be a case study for officials of what not to say when a story is breaking and they really don't know much about what motivated the terrorist and what his connections were. Such unsubstantiated guesses do nothing to allay public concerns.

17 comments:

Stan said...

But Betsy, if these folks only spoke about that which they understood, they'd be mute.

Wright said...

'...done by at least one person." Well, I'm sure hizzoner is on firm footing with that perceptive statement.

John said...

Sparta Sherrif Gillespie, "Couldda been a hitchiker".

tfhr said...

Napolitano ~ "amateurish"?

Janet, how high tech or "professional" is a bloody box cutter? The amateur drove right into the middle of Times Square.

Why is this idiot even associated with Homeland Security, let alone in charge of it?! Who exactly is the "amateur" in the Times Square equation?

Locomotive Breath said...

"by at least one person" -> The reaction I had was he meant to say "by at most one person". Which is a really ridiculous thing to say.

"maybe a mentally deranged person, or somebody with a political agenda" -> well he got that part right.

I remember when the guys who tried to blow up the World Trade Center the first time in 1993 and killed "only" a few people were derided as amateurish

mark said...

Bloomberg will soon go before congress to plead that it stop allowing suspects on the terrorist watch list to legally buy guns. Given past statements by the NRA and idiots here, I suspect he'll fail. Nobody who supports this common sense proposal has the credibility to criticize Bloomberg, or to question anyone's commitment to fighting terrorism.

tfhr said...

mark,

You're as incoherent as ever but it is impressive that you've found the shift key (for the most part) for those tricky caps.

So Cal Jim said...

mark, why do you insist on spouting your nonsense? You are so typical of the Left. You invent straw-man arguments, pretend conservatives generally adhere to the lunatic ravings of your imagination and then you attack conservatives for supposedly supporting YOUR fiction. My God, man, did you never take a basic logic course in school? I've seen tender grade schoolers with more persuasive acumen than you.

But let me indulge your fevered mind for a moment. So, mark, ol' buddy.....what person from the NRA or writing in this forum ever opined that people on the Terrorist Watch List should be allowed to buy guns? ...................... I guess the sound of crickets chirping means you don't have an answer. Figures.

Oh and what the "F" did Shahzad's gun have anything whatsoever to do with the car bomb he rigged up, anyway?

equitus said...

*You* want to talk about credibility, mark?

I love the "at least one person" part. An instant classic.

mark said...

My bad. Obviously I meant "opposes" instead of "support". The proposal to prohibit those on the terrorist watchlist from buying guns has been offered before by a number of people. Perhaps someone here can instruct me: Why should someone on the watchlist be allowed to walk into a gunshop and purchase weapons? Last time I asked, I was reminded that some on the list were placed there accidently. Should those people be allowed to board a plane on the offchange that the placement is unjust? Should we just tear up the watchlist because it has mistakes? The Times Square terrorist was placed on the watchlist while the search was occuring. How could you possibly defend a terrorist purchasing firearms.

Face it: It will not come close to ending terrorism, but it is a common sense tool that should be employed. Only idiots and those who have whored themselves to the NRA can "deny" this.

There are many things worth arguing about regarding how to fight the war on terror. This is a no-brainer folks, so even you people should get it.

tfhr said...

mark,

Again, kudos for throwing that shift key into the fray and for adding the clarifying point regarding "opposes" v. "support". You're so hard to understand sometimes that I can't easily interpret what you "meant" to say.

You did say this however:

"Why should someone on the watchlist be allowed to walk into a gunshop and purchase weapons?"

I'll do that one better: Why is somebody that really belongs on the watch list walking around at all? Investigate and follow up leads! If they are genuine threats they should be under constant surveillance, arrested, deported if they are not citizens, and barred from reentry. If an AQ, Lashkar, Taliban, or other terrorist group connection or link to a state sponsor can be found, they should be incarcerated. For non-citizens there is a place called Guantanamo Bay. Maybe you've heard of it. I think it was supposed to have been closed already but for some reason it's still there. May as well make use of it, right?

The individual in question was a naturalized American citizen. That's why he could purchase a weapon. He was not on the watch list when he made that purchase, was he?

Shall we go on about that Patriot Act now? Or should we talk about your appalling habit of deeming those that may disagree with you as "whores" and "idiots"?

mark said...

Actually, you didn't go me one better, tfhr. You avoided the question because you can't defend the alternative, and jumped to an insane extreme.
There are over 750,000 people on the terrorist watch list. You are proposing that we round them up, interrogate (at gitmo no less) to find out if they "really belong". Would that be with or without waterboarding? Sounds a bit challenging logistically and constitutionally. Perhaps in your spare time you can start working on a plan.
I was going to apologize(sarcastically, I admit) for offending your delicate sensibilities, but "idiot" doesn't even come close to describing someone who would make such a suggestion.

You and others here once made the cowardly statement that anything we do to save lives is justified (referring to torture). You're okay with rounding them all up and sending them to Gitmo, but prohibiting them from buying guns goes just a bit too far for you.
Very logical.

Road Dawg said...

As team Obama was patting themselves on the back for thwarting the dastardly deed, I was reminded of President Bush giving kudos, "Way to go, Brownie!"

Both seemed to be giving compliments to ineptitude. Bush was called on it Team Obama gets a pass.

mark said...

This from the NYT this morning:

1,119 people on the watch list have been able to purchase weapons over the last six years. One of them bought 50 pounds of military grade explosives

How can anyone who takes the war on terror seriously think this is acceptable?
tfhr and others: Please stop helping the terrorists.

tfhr said...

mark,

Of those 1,119 people on the list, how many are American citizens? Earlier you cited a figure of 750,000 on the list. Should they all be denied Constitutional rights?

How many have been determined to have connections with a terrorist organization or were they put on the list for reasons that are less clear?

Faisal Shahzad was not on the no-fly list until after he was connected with the bombing attempt. That would mean he purchased his handgun prior to the event that led to his addition to the no-fly list. According to CBS, he ended up on the Department of Homeland Security travel lookout list - Traveler Enforcement Compliance System (TECS) - between 1999 and 2008 because he brought approximately $80,000 cash or cash instruments into the United States. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-20004263-10391695.html

He was clearly not on a no-fly list when he was importing money or "cash instruments" between 1999 and 2008, but if it was such a red flag, why on earth was he granted CITIZENSHIP in 2009? As an American citizen, it is his right to purchase a firearm.

Worrying about his Constitutional right to bear arms when someone saw fit to naturalize Shahzad is akin to closing the barn door long after the horse has run off. It seems to me that you are once again allowing your domestic political agenda - the anti-gun liberal meme directed at a big Republican PAC - to cloud your anti-terrorism judgment. Shouldn't you be wondering why this guy was granted the citizenship that gave him access and ease of movement that is far more dangerous than a handgun?

Again, I find your position incoherent but I suppose that should be expected considering the staggering incoherence of the Obama administration on the issue.

Here's what I mean:

1. KSM, a foreign national, is apprehended in Pakistan but all efforts are being made to try him in NYC with all the rights inherent in The Constitution. Incoherent!

2. No-fly list status, in your mind, negates the 2nd Amendment for American citizens. An American is considered such a threat that they cannot board an airliner but you won't stop him from piling into a car loaded with fuel and other explosive materials. By your rationale, no-fly list membership is the same status as convicted felon when it comes to gun ownership. Incoherent!

3. Members of Congress are discussing the option of stripping citizenship from Americans that have aligned themselves with terrorist organizations. Is the intent to deport them? Will this lead to "rendition"? Arrest them. Interrogate them. Consider charging them with treason. Why strip them of citizenship when they can be tried for treason? Instead we're bringing KSM here for trial. Incoherent!!

4. Dems are going berserk because Arizona has sought to enforce laws that the federal government has ignored as a function of it's abandonment of protecting the US border. "Show us your papers", is the rally cry of those that suggest that seeking proof of citizenship is akin to a Gestapo interrogation. But we all must "show our papers" to board a plane, to cash a check, etc.. Unless you want to vote - no ID needed for that. Incoherent!!!

mark, nobody here has supported the notion that a terrorist should be allowed to purchase a firearm in the United States. I defy you to provide a single example. All you've been doing here is working yourself into a froth with such outlandish accusations and sprinkled it with claims of "whore" and "idiot". Where is the substance in your argument, mark?

I think you're overwrought with disappointment as you watch the Obama administration prostrate itself before the Islamic world with no apparent effect at reducing the ill will that has been directed at us for decades.

You sound like you're starting to crack.

tfhr said...

mark,

Before you snap, I wish you would provide a link to the story you referred to in which a terrorist or somebody on a list, bought "50 pounds of military grade explosives". I would really like to discuss this with you.

As for helping terrorists - I had a hand in martyring 14 terrorists in Iraq over a two night period just about two years ago. That's 1008 virgins, mark. Whew! Those guys really owe me big!

I'm pretty sure that most of them were probably not going to go on to be suicide bombers though a few might have. Not all were AQ and of those that were, not all were from the demographic most frequently used for suicide bombing, the tactic that results in the highest casualties since they were tending to target markets in that particular area. But I they would have all had continued careers in killing Iraqi citizens and American military and civilian personnel, if I had not done my job well. I'm certain that I helped save lives.

No, no mark, you're welcome.

How many terrorists have you helped send to their "reward"?

Pat Patterson said...

I doubt very seriously if mark can provide that source because it appears that the GAO reported that someone, on the list but cleared years before, was able to get his license to buy explosives renewed. No mention by the GAO if he bought explosives while on the list.

But again mark seems, not quite as hysterically as TV, to make predications on the police state that the Patriot Act supposedly created then be perfectly comfortable with proscribing or suspending constitutional guarantees on suspicion or mere association.

It does seem logical that the airlines could and should deny travel to someone they would rather not have on a plane because it is a private company. But for the government to follow that idea for consistency means to also not allow that same person the ability to drive across a state line.