IMAGINARY THREAT

Posted in Quick Hits on July 11th, 2012 by Ed

Rough night on Tuesday, including some internet/power outages, so this will be somewhat brief and the second installment of the Supreme Court rant will wait one more day.

ProPublica has a great piece on the exaggeration, inflation, and flat-out fabrication of terrorist threats for political purposes. The maligned NYPD has made a habit of boasting about the "14 terrorist attacks" it has thwarted since 9/11, and since it comes straight from the mouth of the police and the mayor, why would the media do anything other than repeat it unquestioningly?

Even a cursory analysis – which, again, no one seems to have bothered to do – reveals what ProPublica generously estimates as three sorta-legitimate threats. The remainder are mentally unstable people who made vague threats but took no real action or, more problematically, suspects who were only able to make progress toward an attack with the assistance of undercover law enforcement. Some nutjob(s) who couldn't plan and execute a gas station robbery decide to plot a terrorist attack and they get absolutely nowhere (because they're idiots, remember) until an informant cooperating with law enforcement or an undercover agent steps in and offers them materials and assistance to advance the threat. Then they are arrested and we are all told about the big, scary threat they presented. Look! They had bomb-making materials! That they got from, uh…well, that's not important.

Describing this kind of rhetoric as dishonest or these terrorist threats as manufactured seems almost too lenient.