Saturday, June 24, 2006

Axis of evil is in Miami.

Dick Cheney says that he finds it disturbing that the media has taken it upon them selves to "disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people. That offends me." Well, you know what, Dick, you offend me, so we're even.

Here we go again, the same old tired argument that letting the American people on the administration's dark dealings is somehow helping the terrorists. One would think real terrorists would have figured out by now that their phone calls are probably being listened in on and their financial transactions are being tracked. The notion that al-Qaeda is stupid enough to send a Western Union money-gram to one of their cells or transfer a large amount of money to another country and use their real names is ludicrous.

Cheney & Co. know what the NSA and the CIA are up to, and al-Qaeda knows what they're up to, the only people who don't know what's going on is the American people. Now, we don't need to know all the operational details of every secret counterterrorism program, but when the government is sifting through every phone call record, every Google search and every bank transaction, that's something we should know.

What are they doing with all this information? They've gone through trillions of bits of information, they've issued tens of thousands of subpoenas, or what they call national security letters, for information on Americans. Are there tens of thousands of terrorists here in the US that the CIA or the FBI absolutely needs to be building dossiers on? If that's the case, we really should be worried about another attack.

But, in reality, no one really knows what's going on because the administration won't tell the courts or Congress what they're doing. This is a problem. Maybe, letting a little sunshine in on what Cheney & Co. are up to, a little oversight, might make sure that their methods are really as effective as they say they are. I mean, this is the same bunch that brought us Iraq and Katrina, can we really trust that all this electronic snooping they're doing is actually making a difference?

But hey, they caught those dangerous terrorist in Miami, they're really cooking with gas now, right? It looks like Cheney's worries about the media letting the cat out of the bag about Swift isn't hindering the war on terror after all. Of course, these bozos down in Miami weren’t so swift themselves, it appears. The government probably didn't need to bring the entire weight of US law enforcement down on these guys, I think probably Metro-Dade department police could have handled it.

As a matter of fact, six of the seven defendants have criminal records and one of them was in jail on a probation violation. Pretty scary stuff, there's no telling what that big al-Qaeda cell down in Liberty City could have got up to if they'd been able to actually get in touch with someone from al-Qaeda.

This was such a huge bust that AG Alberto 'waterboard' Gonzales had to give a press conference to let everyone know what a dangerous threat these guys were. Although, their plans for bombing the Sears Tower in Chicago were "aspirational rather than operational," he says they planned to launch attacks that would "be just as good or greater than 9/11."

How they were going to manage to carry this plot off without weapons and no support from al-Qaeda or money he doesn't say. The WaPo reports that "They were not well funded: Neighbors said the men drove old cars and some of them made money by selling shampoo and hair tonic on the street. Hell, they couldn't even afford their own video camera to case "the U.S. courthouse and other federal buildings in Miami. . .the camera was provided by the government informant, the indictment said."

The leader of the group, Narseal Batiste, is described by the Inquirer as a "Moses-like figure," who "carried a cane through his neighborhood, wearing a cape or sometimes of bathrobe," so you know he meant business. The thing I don't get is why a "homegrown" terrorist cell would need uniforms. How far would these idiots have gotten anyway? I mean, six black guys walking down the street in downtown Chicago wearing uniforms being led by one wearing a bathrobe might have stood out.

I hope the DOJ isn't spending all their time investigating ice cream truck drivers and whackos with delusions of...well, just delusions. I mean, the guys who pulled off 9/11 were a little more sophisticated in their methods and managed not to walk right up to a FBI informant and ask him for boots. Out of all the hundreds of prosecutions of "terrorists" the DOJ has mounted in the US since 9/11, they've gotten precious few convictions. Either there are no terrorist’s cells out there or the government is wasting their time and our money on crap like this while the real terrorists are plotting and planning right under Gonzales' nose. I hope it's the former, but judging by the record of this administration so far, I'm guessing it's the latter.


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