Thursday, March 11, 2010

Guy Fawkes

The latest exhibit to justify our War of Terror is one Najibullah Zazi. Of him, Reuters says,

"Security experts had considered the case of Zazi, a former coffee vendor from New York who had moved to Colorado, among the most serious within U.S. borders since the attacks of September 11, 2001. In recent weeks, however, the case has been overshadowed by the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner (Zazi Associate Charged in New york Bomb Plot.)"

We can see how the exploits of would-be panty bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would shove the other would-be bomber off the front page (look what happened when Britney went commando; we are as a nation, underwear fetishists.) One gets the idea that these bombers-manque are some sort of latter day Guy Fawkes.

Zazi appears to be an al-Qaeda bomb-making trainee willing and able to carry out attacks in the U.S. He has low-level bombing capabilities and intent, if we believe news sources. That is all the bad news.

The good news is that like the shoe bomber Reid and crotch bomber Abdulmutallab
, Zazi was an ineffectual operative.

Zazi allegedly manufactured the explosive TATP out of beauty supply store ingredients with the intent of bombing something in NYC. The target has never been disclosed, nor has the actual amount of TATP in Zazi's possession. There has been no evidence presented that the homemade explosive was in fact an explosive mixture, but presuming that it would have exploded, how would it have been detonated?

Two pounds of homemade explosive is not adequate to blow up a house or any high-value structure. It could blow up a car, but it could not make a car bomb. T
wo pounds of explosives wouldn't take down an oak tree, and would likely not be more than a statement, and the statement would be, "We al-Qaeda trained bomb makers are pathetically incompetent."

We are spending billions to counter buffoons. Our three major stateside threats -- Reid, Zazi and Abdulmutallab -- all possessed less than two pounds of homemade explosive materials, creating a device that would be not much more than an irritant. Contrast that with the hundreds of tons of explosives dropped on Afghan targets.

Zazi is being charged with "conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction."
Since when has less than two pounds of explosive become a WMD? A bomb isn't a WMD, it is just a nasty bomb. The concept of bomb involves fear because we think of our own powerful bombs.

Zazi's desire and intent may have been to use a WMD, but the reality is quite the opposite, just as Saddam promised to bring the
"Mother of all Wars," but was not quite up to the task. We humans are often burdened by delusions of grandeur, or just bog simple delusions.

As a nation, we should not be reacting to delusional thinking.



  1. Well, to be fair: The marginal capabilities of political-religious criminals are likely the result of the efforts of many states.

    On the other hand, many CT measures are certainly inefficient if not outright counter-productive, dangerous or unworthy.

  2. It seems that the "WMD" nature of the indictment has to do with a "bomb" being classified as a "weapon of mass destruction" in federal legal code.

    Agree, Zazi and the "crotch bomber" only indicate the pathetic nature of the Al Qaida threat to the US directly, especially compared with what the Taliban did to the CIA on 30 December . . .

  3. Seydlitz,
    What the Talib did to the CIA was a tactical act of war-responding to invasion and coercion,and imho does not equate to the near threat that are addressed by the 3 stooges.
    Calling a bomb a WMD is foolishness and hyperbole.
    And what is a bomb? Does it have to go boom to be a bomb? Is a few grams of petn actually a bomb?I'd call it a sound charge.

  4. Not sure if anyone caught the little debate in the House over the "end the war" resolution about A-stan (it lost, naturally, by something like 250-50)

    To me the worthwhile part was listening to the majority defend the entire notion of fighting a land war in Asia.

    Ted Poe (R-TX): "War is hard. It is always hard. We shall not give in; we shall not surrender or retreat. It is in our interest and the interest of America to defeat the enemy. And let them have no doubt in their mind, we will be victorious."

    Properly Churchillian. Shall we fight them on the beaches, or the landing grounds?

    Ike Skelton (D-MO): "Have we forgotten? Have we forgotten what happened to America on 9/11? Have we forgotten who did it? Have we forgotten those who protected and gave them a safe haven?"

    Oh. 9/11! 9/11!9/11!9/11!!!!! Got it.

    Clearly there is no sense to be had out of our supposed elected leadership. So I'll set out the real bottom line:

    1. The 2002 proxy war unseated the Afghan Taliban and drove the Mullah Omar faction into exile.

    2. As with Iraq, we had no fucking clue what to do then. We had perforce combined with a minority claque of Tajiks, Uzbeks and other groups, so we installed a fairly unstable government in Kabul and hoped we could leave it at that.

    3. Of course we couldn't - both the Afghan Talibs, India, Pakistan, the Pakistan Talibs, Iran, Clutter and Buck and God knows who else had an oar to stick in. The turbulence continued, sucking us in to the tarbaby.

    4. Right now we're fighting a standard imperial sort of police action in hopes of seating our proxies on the gaddi in Kabul.

    5. Our Congresscritters appear generally unable to either a) recognize this, or b) speak the truth to the Great Unwashed. So the rhetorical support (and, I assume, the intellectual underpinnings so far as it goes) for this continued fight remains stuck in the "Good War" hyperbole of "winning", "defeating the implacable foe", "victory" and "defeat", is if these were all really options.

    6. These panty bombers and assorted nutjobs are and will continue to be fallout from our a) unquestioning support of Israel's occupation policies and b) other military folderol in the Middle East. Planning and executing these sorts of attacks doesn't require a national sanctuary; an apartment in Dusseldorf or a basement in Frostbite Falls would do fine.

    7. Eventually we will either come to the gobsmacking realization that we are breaking windows with guineas sending U.S. maneuver forces to fight local guerillas in central Asia and come up with some sort of economy-of-force solution (which will hopefully be based heavily on intelligence, subversion and the use of local proxies) or we won't. Either way, much of the past decade will turn out to have been a wasted, geopolitically harmful foolishness on par with many of our other poorly thought-out adventures in the Middle East.

    In all honesty, however, I doubt that this in itself will turn out to be a long-term harm to the U.S. We are inflicting that on ourselves with our short-sighted politics and economic policies...

  5. jim-

    My point is that it is all sold as the same Global War Against Terror . . .

    Obviously, the Taliban fighting on their own turf with their Pakistani supporters - for their own political purposes - is something altogether different from the lot sending some impressionable kid with a pants full of incendiary materials on a trans-Atlantic flight to blow himself up. Wasn't this exactly the kind of recruit they should have retained and developed . . . ? But, no, his handlers sent him off on his little journey which only indicates as you have pointed out the incompetent and limited nature of the actual thread to the US directly.

    It should be obvious, but for some reason it's not, since as we all know the current wars aren't about national defense, but rather private intere$t . . .

  6. seydlitz,
    If 2 old soldiers get it,then why can't the NCA?

  7. Chief,
    It's obvious that neither of us will ever be in Congress.

  8. I've posted on the FBI's liberal use of the term "WMD" many times on my blog. <a href=">Title 18, USC. 2332a</a>. It is BS, runs counter to DOD and State definitions, but DoJ doesn't care as long as it gives them an extra charge to push against alleged perps. FBI has used this code to charge people who possess pipebombs, hand grenades, and related explosives with or without chemical or biological materials as "possession or intent to use WMDs." In most cases, the charge is either plea-bargained away or it carries about a five-year sentence.

  9. Jason,
    This is similar to drug charges since the quantity and quality are often ignored or discussed.
    An example are supposed bombs made of smokeless powder-these do not reach velocities or power of bombs but yet they are classified as bombs.
    There should be a legal requirement to define what a bomb actually happens to be.
    Facts are always nice.