On the recent JFK airport plot, Thoreau has it about right:
I think we’re all familiar with the alleged plot against
JFK Airport: Four men (one a long time UScitizen located in the US, 3 in Guyanaor Trinidad) were planning to blow up fuel tanks. One of the men had held a job with an airport contractor, but it was not apparent that he had access to the fuel tanks, and they appeared to have some very inaccurate notions of what happens when you try to blow up a fuel tank (hint: the fire doesn’t normally spread down the length of the 40 mile pipeline to the refinery). Moreover, they seemed to have no real idea of how to go about it, and were seeking help. At that point, their quest for help attracted the attention of the right people, and the predictable happened.
For the record, if the allegations are proven in court then I’m glad that 3 of these guys are under arrest and that a manhunt is in progress for the 4th. A stupid criminal with a bad plan is still a criminal, and should be punished. I’m even more glad that the matter is being pursued via our independent judiciary, rather than in a legal black hole.
But looking at the big picture, it’s also clear that while these guys deserve punishment, they aren’t exactly a dire threat, and that there’s been a pattern here since the 9/11 attacks: We are no longer facing the A-list terrorists of 9/11. Rather, we’re facing amateurs with grandiose but ill-conceived plans: The idiots who were going to destroy
with a blowtorch. The guys in Brooklyn Bridge who mostly just wanted to scam Al Qaeda. (”Oh, no, we don’t need bombs. But we could use some cash, cars, digital cameras, combat boots, and guns. Preferably automatic weapons that fetch a nice price on the black market.”) The British guys who were going to blow up a plane with liquids that almost certainly wouldn’t have worked. And probably a couple others that I’m forgetting. Miami
I don’t appreciate assholes who want to blow up me and my neighbors. They are losers, and I’m glad they were caught.
But Mayor Bloomberg has the definitive final word (via TPM):
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. You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist.
Take that, Rudy!