Picking apart Gary Welsh’s coverage

Gary Welsh has a blog post about a recent Washington Post article on the London Terror Plot, in which he takes the opportunity to make some swipes at my blog posts about the event.

“While many bloggers opposed to President Bush’s policies for fighting the war on terror scoffed at initial reports that Islamic terrorists were planning to bring down U.S. airplanes headed from London to the U.S. this month…”

Wrong. I never scoffed at the plot itself, I scoffed at the government’s spin job on the terror plot, and the media’s hysterical reporting of the overly-hyped, politically-timed reports from the government. You quoted me yourself, Gary: “(Let me clarify that — I don’t think they’re constructing a terrorist plot out of whole cloth to scare us. I think they’re making a mountain out of a molehill, and that we’re not really in any danger.)”

The reality is that we were never in any danger. As you can see yourself in the Post article, the attack wasn’t anywhere near imminent, and the British government was monitoring the proceedings almost from the start. I was about as likely to be killed as I would be to suffer a farming accident. The government reports of “mass murder on an unimaginable scale” were completely out of line, if not criminally negligent.

The bloggers who were quick to doubt the original terrorist plot claim are saying little about today’s news.

Possibly because I didn’t read the Post article, Gary. I’m not a right-wing nut, so I don’t read that paper with the religious fervor that you apparently do, considering you equate that one article with all of “today’s news.”

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5 comments on “Picking apart Gary Welsh’s coverage
  1. Gary Welsh says:

    Steph, You may not have been in any imminent danger of harm, but certainly the many Americans who would have been boarding those planes returning from their European vacations were in imminent danger. I don’t think the threat of blowing a dozen airliners out of the sky is a molehill. With your type of reaction, the government is damned if it does anything, and damned if it does nothing. Had this terror plot been missed, I’m sure you and others would have plenty of criticism to direct at those in charge. There is no indication in the Post article that it was not in anyway imminent as you assert. It in fact reports: “Police disclosed the alleged conspiracy to blow up transatlantic airliners after indications that the plotters were nearly ready to strike.”

  2. Where to start? How about with the most offensive thing you say: “Had this terror plot been missed, I’m sure you and others would have plenty of criticism to direct at those in charge.”
    Don’t fucking ever presume to speak for me, Gary, or presume what I would say or do. You’re so far out of line here you deserve a punch in the mouth.
    I’ve never damned the goverment for taking action or not taking it to thwart terrorism — so calling that “my type of reaction” is is a complete fucking mischaracterization of everything I’ve said, and completely unworthy of you, and you fucking know it.
    Stop trying to use me as a strawman, Gary, and actually answer the criticism I’m really giving, not the criticism you want me to give, or the cricism you make up in your head and try to attribute to me.
    “many Americans who would have been boarding those planes returning from their European vacations were in imminent danger.”
    ‘Imminent danger’ would have been if the terrorists were on the planes, chemicals in hand. That was nowhere near the case and never would have happened, as every other news report has made abundantly clear, Post article aside.
    “I don’t think the threat of blowing a dozen airliners out of the sky is a molehill.”
    It depends completely on how realistic the threat is. If it’s some dudes in Miami shooting the shit about the sears tower, it’s a fucking molehill. And from the initial coverage of this event THERE WAS NO FUCKING INFORMATION PROVIDED THAT TOLD US ANYTHING ABOUT WHETHER THE THREAT WAS REAL. THERE WAS NO WAY TO DETERMINE IF THE THREAT WAS A MOLEHILL OR NOT.
    Given the administration’s proven track record of crying wolf every time they see a shadow, it’s natural I’d be skeptical of this wolf cry.

  3. Gary Welsh says:

    Steph says,”‘Imminent danger’ would have been if the terrorists were on the planes, chemicals in hand.”
    Steph, I remember all too well while the 9/11 investigation was going on and Hillary Clinton stood on the floor of the Senate holding up a NY Post article with the headline, “Bush Knew”, and she, along with others, blasted Bush for failing to act in advance to thwart the 9/11 terrorists. What our national security and Bush knew prior to 9/11 was that there was chatter of doing something big. There was even specific chatter of airliners being hijacked and flown into prominent buildings, like the Capitol Building. In defending the administration, Condoleeza Rice declared that there was nothing specific enough to act on. People said that wasn’t good enough. I don’t want them to wait until they are moments away from carrying out these deadly acts, and I don’t think most people do either. What if it’s a diversion? Instead of blowing up planes leaving from London, it’s planes leaving from Paris. The terrorists could be deliberately throwing out disinformation to redirect attention away from the real target. One of the things that we know is that the terrorists are very good at adjusting to heightened awareness of their activities. I might suggest that the recent incident on the trans-Atlantic flight where the plane was diverted from D.C. to Boston because of an unruly female passenger was a test. She could have been part of an information gathering effort to determine whether there were air marshals on the flight, where they sat, how the crew reacted to different disruptions, etc. to figure out how best to carry out future terrorist attacks using airplanes. I don’t know how you can say the administration has been crying wolf when you consider the number of deadly Islamic terrorist attacks since 9/11, including Spain, London, Malaysia, Russia et al. The threat is real.

  4. I AM NOT HILLARY CLINTON, YOU ASSHOLE. I’m not responsible for her actions, and I don’t have to answer for them, here or anywhere else.
    NOBODY IS CRITICIZING THE WAY THIS TERROR PLOT WAS INVESTIGATED OR HANDLED, JACKASS. You’re STILL trying to make this strawman argument, and it’s STILL not valid. YOU’RE ARGUING AGAINST SOMETHING NO ONE IS SAYING.
    What we’re criticising is the way that the government released the information to the media, like chicken little telling us the sky was falling, and the media acting like Henny Penny, running around reporting the news.
    All of it was designed, not to make people safe or secure in any way, but to make the point that “only Republicans can keep you safe!! Vote for us this fall!!” Which is total bullshit.
    I’m sorry but the Democratic Party (yeah, DemocratIC not “democrat party” like in your Republican-directed spin job) can do the same intelligence work and the same law enforcement that the Republicans can. And they can probably do it a lot better, because they won’t be thinking constantly of the best way they can inconvenience the public at the same time to scare them into compliance.

  5. Here’s what we now know about the London Terror Plot:
    The UK intelligence officials infiltrated the group from the beginning.
    They knew the identities of all of the plotters, but not their higher level contacts in Al Qaeda, if any.
    They knew the plotters were experimenting with chemicals, but had no actual bombs made yet.
    They knew that the plotters were planning a “dry run” but didn’t have passports or tickets for that dry run yet.
    The UK officials wanted to let them complete their dry run in hopes of flushing out additional helpers or contacts with Al Qaeda.
    The US officials needed a political boost in the polls, so they directed the UK officials to round up the terrorists before the dry run.
    The UK balked, saying they were running the investigation.
    The US leaked the information to the press, but with no details other than: “Terrorists. Planes. Mass murder on an unimaginable scale.” And later in the day — liquids.
    Panic ensued. Chaos reigned. Airport security reacted in a variety of ways, restricting some things in one place, and other things in others, because they had no idea what to collect or how to dispose of it.
    The UK officials had to race out and round up the terror suspects without getting the additional information from them that they wanted.
    The news media seized on the three details they did know and repeated them over and over for the first day an a half (“Terrorists. Planes. Mass murder on an unimaginable scale.”) before they got more details like:
    Liquids. London. Al Qaeda. Thwarted.
    No one was actually in any danger at any time, but millions of people were inconvenienced anyway, for no reason, as there was no weapons of any kind anywhere near any aircraft. In fact, no terrorists of any kind anywhere near any aircraft.
    All of this could have been avoided if they’d said this:
    “The UK has been investigating an Al Qaeda terrorist cell in London plotting an attack on aircraft headed to the US. The bombers have been rounded up and are in custody. This was a serious plot with real targets, but it has been thwarted. The terrorists and weapons never got near any planes, but for security reasons, we want to take some additional precautions on planes flying from Europe to America until we’re sure everything is clear.”
    The already shaky airline industry wouldn’t have taken the massive stock hit that it took. Security officials would have known what to do. People wouldn’t have had such a negative reaction. The president might have gotten his desired boost in the polls.
    The way that the Miami “terror plot” was announced to the press — as though it were real, as though there were weapons, and a serious threat… come on, that was clearly “crying wolf” and so was this.
    You do remember the story, don’t you? The little kid cries wolf so much that when the wolf really does come, people don’t believe him. That’s what’s happening.

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