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The British Terror Arrests
Posted by: Jon Henke on Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Over the weekend, Mona @ Unqualified Offerings and McQ at QandO debated the possibility that there were crass political considerations in the timing of the recent terror arrests. Being a libertarian sort of fellow, I have no problem believing the worst of even the best politicians (none of whom were involved in this story), and it doesn't strike me as implausible that politicians might try to 'massage' our war on terrorism to score helpful political points. On the other hand, skepticism (or cynicism?)of government — which is virtually an entry-level requirement for libertarians — is no substitute for evidence, and the conversations generated more heat than light.

Today, Andrew Sullivan picks up the story and writes...
I wonder if Lieberman's defeat, the resilience of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the emergence of a Hezbollah-style government in Iraq had any bearing on the decision by Bush and Blair to pre-empt the British police and order this alleged plot disabled. I wish I didn't find these questions popping into my head. But the alternative is to trust the Bush administration.
This view is getting quite a lot of support. Kevin Drum rounds up the plausible evidence, and it certainly appears as if there are some odd discrepancies. (could they really do a 'dummy run' without passports?)

On the other hand, it's probably worth laying out some of the evidence that points away from conspiracy, as well...

  • First, contra some claims, not all of the alleged plotters were without passports. The most recent story has an anonymous British source claiming that "some did not even have passports", but he also indicates that British "police believe one U.K.-based suspect was ready to conduct a 'dry run'." So, the passport objection appears to be a red herring. The lack of passports would not have presented an obstacle to the test run.


  • Second, according to a Washington Post story, there were "three major developments that shifted the investigation into a higher gear and led to last week's hurried raids and arrests" and those major developments happened "about two weeks ago". The developments were:
    1. "clear evidence of plans to target the United States"

    2. "plans by the British to shut down the plot"

    3. "a frantic rush to execute the arrests earlier than expected to avoid losing suspects or allowing an attack to occur"

    Note that last. We'll come back to it. In the meantime, note that the British had decided to "proceed with arrests" and they did so by "Friday, Aug. 4".


  • Thirdly, the arrests "occurred at least two days earlier than planned" (and a recent report says the British wanted to continue for another week), so even the British timing would have fallen well within the window about which "the timing!" allegations could be made.


  • Fourth, critics wonder why we couldn't have simply kept them under surveillance. Perhaps it was because "British authorities were also concerned because they had lost contact with one or two of the suspects who had traveled to Pakistan". US and British officials realized "all the suspects could not be located immediately, raising concerns about a potential attack." We couldn't simply continue the surveillance, because the operation appeared to have been compromised or at least jeopardized by MIA suspects.


  • Fifth, New York officials had been told "that arrests were imminent" earlier in that week, a few days before the arrests occurred. They were told by British officials. In fact, it appears to have been the arrest of Rashid Rauf and six other men by the Pakistanis which was the "trigger for the raid in Britain".


All in all, the most compelling pieces of the puzzle to me are (a) the upsurge in suspicious activity, combined with the sudden disappearance of some suspects, and (b) the fact that the timing of the arrests was only moved up by a very little.

In fact, with the arrests happening over the course of a Thursday, the story would actually hit the news cycle on a Friday. Friday is the day politicians usually release bad news in the hope that it gets buried over the weekend. The Carpetbagger Report noted this some time back, writing that Friday is "the perfect time to release bad news that you don't want anyone to know about" and that no one "has ever mastered the art of the Friday-afternoon news dump better than the Bush White House". Today, however, the Carpetbagger Report and many others suspect the administration is intentionally moving a story to Friday for the publicity.

I'm not unwilling to entertain these questions, but in this case it doesn't appear to me that the 'timing' conspiracy theories have much evidence to recommend them.
 
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Of COURSE that view is ’getting a lot of support’, Jon.... there’s a lot of people out there who desperately need to discredit Bush and Blair. Had you noticed?

I suggest that the people trying to discredit them are doing it for the same reasons as anyone seeking to tkae credit for these events... political considerations. WHich makes all comers equal on the credibility scale until we answer the question:

Assuming credit is actually being sought for these events, (And school’s still out on that one) is the credit being sought unfairly? Or are they properly seeking credit for a job well done?

Remember, please, that those operating from the conspiracy angle are still convinced that we don’t really have a war situation going on. They figure the whole thing was cooked up by Karl Rove. So anything, including these arrests, that makes the case that there really is something serious about all of this, and worse, that Bush and company might be doing soemthing correctly about it... must be discredited immediately or the conspiracy theorists position falls apart completely on the spot.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
2 of the terrorist suspects completed their martyrdom videos!!
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://moorejack.ytmnd.com/
It’s ALL a Dark Rovian Conspiracy I tell you and any who don’t agree with this must be "SHUNNED" and "OSTRACIZED" for they are not of the True Faith.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
If you’re someone who believes that Blair and England care about the Lieberman-Lamont thing....please go kill yourself and save us the trouble of dealing with your stupidity.

Thank you.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I read somewhere that, when Pakistani authorities began making arrests, one of the Pakistani suspects managed to get get a message to the others in Britain. Up to that point, the British had been keeping their suspects under surveillance, but once the suspects were tipped off that the plot might soon be discovered the arrests had to be carried out quickly.

The problem with conspiracy theories, though, is that they are very hard to disprove, like proving a negative. Usually the people advancing the theories do not provide any hard evidence, or even a coherent narrative (what exactly WAS Bush’s role in 9/11, anyway?), but those of us who attempt to debunk them are held to the highest standards of proof. If one does prove part of the theory to be factually wrong it quickly mutates to offer a sinister new explanation for the new information.

In this case, it appears that THE TIMING!! was driven by arrests in Pakistan, and the argument could be made that ROVE!! influenced the timing of those arrests, because he already knew what the Pakistani suspects would reveal (maybe he was their secret co-conspirator), and he knew that it would force the hand of the Brits just in time to distract attention from the epochal Lamont triumph..
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Guaranteed, if Bush came out for Gay Marriage tomorrow, Sullivan would suddenly believe the plot was real.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Guaranteed, if Bush came out for Gay Marriage tomorrow, Sullivan would suddenly believe the plot was real.
You FOOL, the Right-Wing, Religious Conservative Homophobe Christianists running this Party would KILL Dubya if ever there was the slightest hint of that coming to pass!
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Lefties entertaining this preposterous conspiracy theory must be mainlining hubris in a syringe.
 
Written By: Fyro
URL: http://
Whatever excesses of conspiracy-mongering may come from some sectors of the left, thank god we have calm and reasonable GOP Senators, who would never say appallingly outrageous things about terrorism.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Leave it to Mona to waltz in and totally ignore the premise, and instead again put the onus on the GOP. Even she can’t seriously fully support this silly black-helicopter conspiracy theory. That’s why we get this folderol.
[Senator Orrin Hatch] stressed that the Middle East is the haven for terrorism and if the United States leaves too soon the terrorists will follow them back to the United States and we have World War III. "They’re waiting for the Democrats here to take control, let things cool off and then strike again."
I fail to see what the appalling outrageous thing is here. It’s a known fact that the Dems favor a "law enforcement" approach to terrorism, favor immediate disengagement from Iraq, and are against most of the tools Bush and the NSA are using to fight terror.

All of which favor the Terrorists.

So what’s the problem here Mona?

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I’m with Shark on this... The Senator is playing POLITICS (whether or not you approve), whereas the Conspircists are claiming there was no plot! It’s ALL POLITICS, there’s no there there... and if Mona can’t see the difference it’s because she DOESN’T WANT TO.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I fail to see what the appalling outrageous thing is here.
Oh, I believe you.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Oh, I believe you.

I’m sure you do and I note you haven’t pointed out that he’s wrong or that this is some wacko conspiracy, all it is, is a political jibe that you don’t LIKE, quite possibly because it’s too close to the truth or may resonate with the voters.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
It’s a known fact that the Dems favor a "law enforcement" approach to terrorism
Of course – only far left appeasers would endorse the primacy of the effective law enforcement approach; only lefty Dems would say holding otherwise is the province of the delusional. Moonbats like Geroge Will, my emphasis:
Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry’s belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates’ debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."

Immediately after the London plot was disrupted, a "senior administration official," insisting on anonymity for his or her splenetic words, denied the obvious, that Kerry had a point. The official told The Weekly Standard:
"The idea that the jihadists would all be peaceful, warm, lovable, God-fearing people if it weren’t for U.S. policies strikes me as not a valid idea. [Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces. It’s like John Kerry. The law enforcement approach doesn’t work."

This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike "the law enforcement approach," does "work."
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Nice Mona but the Dems favor "law enforcement" and nothing else. Law enforcement to a Dem = exclusion of everything else.

As for the "effective" part, based on the opposition to everything Bush is doing to combat terrorism, I doubt it will be effective once they’re in charge of it.

But do feel free to quote Will again. As long as it’s not from his baseball book...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Mona, Define "Effective Law Enforcement Approach"...by this do yo mean that WHEN terrorism occurs those responsible, if not blown up in the attempt are brought to trial? Then yes the Democrats advance an approach and it WORKED in the 1990’s. WTC I bombing, arrest, trial, convictions. Khobar Towers, OK, it’s in Saudi Arabia, I have no complaints we didn’t get a lot of help, East Africa Embassies, arrests, trials, convictions...

HOWEVER, as all these trials were going, Al-Quaeda was GROWING, training tens of thousands of Jihadis In Afghnaistan. By THAT metric the "Law Enforcement Approach" failed and FAILED BIG TIME. So Mona you go out tell everyone you want to return to Sept. 10 2001 and we’ll just proscecute terrorists, AFTER they hit us. I think that will work well.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Nice Mona but the Dems favor "law enforcement" and nothing else.
Yeah, that’s why they overwhelmingly supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the removal of the Al Qaeda-loving Taliban. And that shows they’re just wrong about the law enforcement approach — as the recent UK plot disrupted by Scotland Yard and other British law enforcement, and international intelligence agencies, all shows. Somehow, that all means the Dems and George Will are wrong — the war in Iraq (which is poised to midwife a pro-Iran, Shiite theocracy) is the real tool for defeating terrorism.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
So Mona you go out tell everyone you want to return to Sept. 10 2001 and we’ll just proscecute terrorists, AFTER they hit us. I think that will work well.
By god, you’re right! Those plotters were all (or mostly) British Muslim citizens, so clearly we should be bombing the hell out of the U.K.! Forget this namby-pamby international intelligence work and tracking down and apprehending the Muslim Brits who sought to do such devastating harm — blow up London. Some of these terrorists are said to have fled to Pakistan — up in flames with that nation as well!
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Split it down the middle.

The timing may not have been politically induced. However, the credibility and capability of the attackers, the extent of the threat, was clearly exaggerated and hyped to smithereens.

And, partisan attacks aside, this is nothing new. Jose Padilla, the Brooklyn Bridge guy with the blowtorch, the guys in Miami trapped in an FBI sting with the promise of boots, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Even if you don’t blame the Rethugs, the phoenomenon is a problem.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Mona what happened in Britain WAS NOT THE LAW ENFORCEMENT APPROACH. What Bill Clinton did in the 1990’s was the "Law Enforcement Approach". Note in this case tools applied AFTER 9-11 played a role, communications intercepts and money transfer intelligence.

And Glasnost you’ve got it bass-ackwards... the timing MAY be political, the plot is real. You reveal the problem with a host of folks. IF Bush had come on National TV on 10 Sept. 2001 with an announcement that the US had foiled a significant terror plot, everyone would be saying how these 19 losers weren’t REALLY a threat. The "plot" such as it was was "overblown" and how "devout" could they be, having gone to to all those strip clubs and they weren’t even good pilots.....
So now every plot must involve what, ex-SAS or US Rangers, sophisticated weapons and electronics? You’ve watched too many movies. Terrorism isn’t the Bourne Identity or the Bourne Supremacy it can be fairly mundane household chemicals and a will to use them.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Even if you don’t blame the Rethugs, the phoenomenon is a problem
Yeah, among those who are so down in the swamp pits that they can’t even type the word "Republican"....
Yeah, that’s why they overwhelmingly supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the removal of the Al Qaeda-loving Taliban
Nope, that was crass politics in the wake of 9/11. Nothing more.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
glasnost writes:
And, partisan attacks aside, this is nothing new. Jose Padilla, the Brooklyn Bridge guy with the blowtorch, the guys in Miami trapped in an FBI sting with the promise of boots, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Even if you don’t blame the Rethugs, the phoenomenon is a problem.
Exactly. I’m not ready to sign on to the idea that Bush & Co. manipulated the timing of the UK arrests for political reasons, and Jon makes some good points in that regard.

But there is reason to doubt the integerity of the Administration when it comes to terrorists and terrorism. Indeed, when a Bush-friendly, arch-conservative judge like Michael Luttig (who had been on the short list for SCOTUS appointments) finally explodes in frustration at the DoJ’s antics, and issues the Bush Admin a stern smack-down for the games it has been playing with Mr. Padilla and the federal courts, you know there is reason to worry that authoritarian, dishonest misfits are in charge; as Jacon Sullum said of Luttig’s angry Opinion, issued when the DoJ "suddenly" decided to criminally charge Padilla after all, on the eve of review of its "inherent authority" claims by the SCOTUS and withdrawing its case in the High Court:
Luttig wrote that by keeping Padilla in a brig for three and a half years without trial, then deciding to try him after all once a court approved the detention, the government "left the impression that Padilla may have been held for these years, even if justifiably, by mistake." By pressing the claim that the president has the authority to indefinitely detain anyone he labels an enemy combatant and then seeming to back away from that claim, Luttig said, the government left the impression that "the principle in reliance upon which it has detained Padilla...can, in the end, yield to expediency with little or no cost to its conduct of the war against terror."
Luttig just resigned, and many attribute that to his chagrin and anger at having been played for a monkey by the Bush Admin; he had originally upheld the "inherent authority" claims, but wanted the crucially important matter to be heard and decided by the Supremes, which the DoJ then avoided with its games. Suddenly, Padilla was not so dangerous anymore.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Let me step in here briefly and note that nobody claimed that the War on Terror was solely a "law enforcement matter". What Kerry — who made that phrase famous — said was that it is primarily a law enforcement matter.

That seems pretty indisputable. The debate is over the peripheral areas where the Western/international rule of law didn’t apply....like Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
I am so tired of this,
Leave it to Mona to waltz in and totally ignore the premise, and instead again put the onus on the GOP.
Exactly,

Jon writes a very good post and Mona turns it into an attempt to attack Republicans. That is the definition of a troll. Does every discussion we have here have to have you swooping in and attacking Republicans? Does every comment you make have to be about praising Democrats and showing what slimes the Republicans are? If Jon wrote a post slamming Santorum is the proper response to discussing the merits of the slam for Shark to come on and quote some stupid thing he thinks Kerry said?

It has become very difficult to discuss anything with you Mona. If we are discussing a Democrat you start showing how you think Republicans are worse. What is the point of that? I don’t see how another’s idiocy has any bearing on the merits of the conspiracy issue. Try dealing with the issue at hand. In my case it would be nice because I am not a Republican! You repeatedly ignore the substance of what people are talking about and divert it to Republican bashing. It is tiresome. If it is relevant, bash away. Otherwise stop acting the troll.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
well, in all fairness, the Republicans are in charge of our National Security at the moment...

Are they perfect? NO

Are they better then the alternative? Maybe

And, to me, the law enforcement approach is to clean up the mess, and investigate the crime after the fact. Not pro-actively trying to find and defeat the plots before an attack happens.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Very interesting set of photos clearly showing the mohawk hairdo of the "macaca" man and the misleading photo posted by Jane Hamsher to back up her bashing post.
Anyone with a hairdo like that is probably exultant when someone calls attention to it.
Not an exoneration of Allen, but certainly a small step in that direction. Yes, I know: off topic. Jon did a good job on the post.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
And, to me, the law enforcement approach is to clean up the mess, and investigate the crime after the fact. Not pro-actively trying to find and defeat the plots before an attack happens.

That’s nice that it means that to you, but it has very little to do with what it actually is. The disruption of the plot in Britian was the law-enforcement approach. Tanks and laser-guided bombs were not used.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Split it down the middle.

The timing may not have been politically induced. However, the credibility and capability of the attackers, the extent of the threat, was clearly exaggerated and hyped to smithereens.

And, partisan attacks aside, this is nothing new. Jose Padilla, the Brooklyn Bridge guy with the blowtorch, the guys in Miami trapped in an FBI sting with the promise of boots, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Even if you don’t blame the Rethugs, the phoenomenon is a problem.



Written By: glasnost



Exactly!

And how much damage could 19 guys armed with boxcutters do?
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Let me step in here briefly and note that nobody claimed that the War on Terror was solely a "law enforcement matter". What Kerry — who made that phrase famous — said was that it is primarily a law enforcement matter.
And I’m sure Kerry would handle it better than Carter would have, and perhaps as well as Clinton.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
"many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror."
Since when do libertarians approve of drug war tactics?

And do drug war tactics work? They don’t work for drugs. If all that marajuana crossing the border was an equal weight of semtex, we would be in serious trouble.

Further, don’t the Bush administration wirtaping of foreign calls, etc., count as a part of an "effective law enforcement approach" (within a larger effort including military efforts)? This seems more useful than traditional drug war tactics.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
So here comes JPOD in this morning’s Corner, saying:
Andrew Sullivan appears extremely eager — desperately eager, hysterically eager — to believe there was far less to the British terror plot than meets the eye. Why? I suspect because of the news stories yesterday suggesting that it was broken up in part due to the use of torture in Pakistan. If that is true, Sullivan’s passionate project over the past two-and-a-half years to declare torture everywhere, at every moment, and in every circumstance unacceptable goes up in smoke.
So it does, John. So it does.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
I find it really sad that there is a lot of comments about Britain and the Plot and how politics and timing is involved..and all sorts of other rubbish. I am from Britain, live in Manchester infact and consider myself to be well informed and educated. I think in this world it is just quite possible that pepole want to cause harm to others, i dont think its political, i think its desperation on the part of the individuals for their cause. If the police hadnt arrested people and carried out raids when they has there would be a lot of blood over the skies and land by now. 9-11 isnt the only major act of terrorism that has occured (although i do feel America tends to think so). Britain now needs to deal with the fact that British Muslims are plotting to do harm to their own country, to their own people, friends who they went to school with, and these British muslims and young.
Bush doesnt have to deal with that, due to his own politics in his country to do with race, infact i dont think he could deal with it if he tried.
 
Written By: Sprouts
URL: http://

 
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