Just a minute after reports of the CIA thwarting an upgraded underwear bomb, my iPhone was all aTwitter with disses and jokes:
Has everyone called BS on this underpants plot yet? (Andrew Exum)
If claims about this plot are true, it's the first plot in ages not to be concocted, funded, directed & driven by the FBI, so that's good. (Glenn Greenwald)
Why the skepticism? Try ten years of hyped-up fear-mongering about terrorist "threats" that turned out not to be true, or greatly exaggerated, including the last "underwear bomb" attempt--foiled not by the government, but by alert passengers.
The tri-vergence of 1) the Chicken Little factor, 2) increased unrest in Yemen (in fact, one day after Fahd al-Quso, a senior al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, was killed by a US drone strike), and 3) the one-year anniversary of Osama's death (read: part of Obama's attempt to make his counterterrorism accomplishments a central campaign issue)--and the fact that the FBI said the last underwear bomber "never posed a threat to public safety"--cast doubt.
The only thing missing this time is a named suspect and an upgrade in the color-coded terrorist threat alert. What won't be missing is more body-scanners (Sen. Dianne Feinstein already said this new bomb is "very difficult to detect by magnetometer") and inconvenience at airports. Since the shoe-bomber resulted in everyone having to remove their shoes, I fear this new underwear bomb will result in passengers having to go commando.
The Chicken Little folktale--where chick that tells everyone, "The sky is falling!" tot he point that no one believes his hysterical belief that disaster is imminent. At least in Chicken Little's case, his paranoia is based on a mistaken belief because an acorn dropped on his head.
With our government, quite the opposite. It knows that these are kernels that it blows up into helium balloons of fear.
Newspapers report the kernals as if they were fact. As with most mainstream New York Times of the New York Times proclaims on the front page:
The Central Intelligence Agency, working closely with foreign partners, thwarted a plot by the branch of Al Qaeda in Yemen (AQAP) to smuggle an experimental bomb aboard an airliner bound for the United States, intelligence officials said on Monday.
Once you read past the hyperbole, we learn 1) the bomb or its components were in transit when intercepted, 2) the device was not seized at an airport, and 3) al Qaeda had yet to target a specific flight. In other words, an al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen had yet to take steps to smuggle the explosive on board a plane, muchless even assemble it.
What many of the articles don't mention is that the timing of this latest terrorist plot coincides with a major escalation of our drone campaign in Yemen.
Too much propaganda and fear-mongering. Too little truth.