Forget About It
Question: what's the most important news story of the past week? Haditha, Haditha, Haditha, Haditha, Canada, Britain. Ooops. Haditha, Haditha. Haditha. That's not to say the possible misconduct of US military personnel is not news, but the characteristic of correctly functioning sensory organs is that objects appear in their due proportion. If mice seemed the size of elephants and elephants the size of mice a visit to the doctor would seem in order. The press is the public's sensory organ.
Pajamas Media has a roundup of stories on the recent terrorism arrests in Canada involving suspects, many of them teens, who had never been to Afghanistan or Iraq, were as Canadian as Molson Beer or American as Apple Pie and had in their possession three times the explosive used in the Oklahoma City bombing. But large as the Canadian story is it is probably only part of something even larger. Atlas Shrugs quotes Cuanas, who supplies the connecting idea.
A week back the FBI and the Justice Dept announced that they were conducting "urgent" investigations into terror cells across the US, and in particular in NYC. The next day, British intelligence made a similar announcement.
Then, we had the London raid and the Toronto raid. Clearly, something massive is in the works, spanning at least three major Western countries. But, if Canada is a target, why not France, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Germany?
My guess is they are also targets. An early report out of London also said that police had ordered a five mile no fly zone around the site of the bust. This might also indicate they suspect rocket launchers.
Three tons of explosive. Suicide poison gas vests. MANPADs maybe. Home grown. Move along now, nothing to see here. Haditha is a story, but no matter how much anyone wants to keep it on the front page the sad reality is the really bigger stories won't stay still. They keep trying to climb above the fold. A National Post account of the Canadian arrests illustrates exactly how this process of trying to keep them below the fold works. The Canadian authorities described the suspects as follows:
With the exception of two men, who are aged 43 and 30, the alleged terrorists are all in their teens and early 20s. They include men of Somali, Egyptian, Jamaican, and Trinidadian origin. All are residents of Canada and “for the most part” all are Canadian citizens, police said. Charged are: Fahim Ahmad, 21, Zakaria Amara, 20, Asad Ansari, 21, Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30, Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43, Mohammed Dirie, 22, Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24, Jahmaal James, 23, Amin Mohamed Durrani, 19, Steven Vikash Chand, 25, and Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21. A twelfth man was a youth when some of the alleged offences took place and can’t be named, along with the other five youths arrested.
“For various reasons, they appear to have become adherents to a violent ideology inspired by al-Qaida,” said Luc Portelance, the CSIS assistant director of operations. ...“It is important to know that this operation in no way reflects negatively on any specific community, or ethno-cultural group in Canada,” he added.
Really, what's a guy to do? Luc Portelance tried delivering a straight line and came off as comedian. The phrase "it is important to know that this operation in no way reflects negatively on any specific community, or ethno-cultural group in Canada" will one day vie with that classic, "any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental."
From a purely academic point of view future historians will find this period an interesting example of how manipulated perceptions struggled obstinately with suppressed reality for the center stage of the policy debate. Some of the questions that will be asked fifty years from now are: what was Scooter Libby really charged with? Is that all? How come millions of people could die in Darfur without anyone noticing? Why were people obsessed with the possible criminal behavior of a handful of Marines in Iraq and uninterested in why their wonderful universities and high schools could produce kids who would be interested in blowing up buildings, spreading poison gas, or maybe shooting down airliners with surface to air missiles. And the most interesting thing about this period is that for a brief time, the manufactured perceptions almost looked like winning. Until reality weighed in.