Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Knee Jerks

Well, it turns out that, in addition to jeopardizing our fighting men and women by playing loose and fast with torture rules, Dick Cheney put innocent American civilians at risk as well.
As part of the recent trial of three would-be bombers held in England (convicted on all counts, no thanks to Dick Cheney), it was revealed that the Bush administration, at the direction of Dick Cheney's need to glorify his ego, nearly let the bombers off the hook:

Dick Cheney, the former US Vice President, nearly destroyed Britain's efforts to bring the airline bomb plotters to justice, police and intelligence experts said today.

By ordering the early arrest of Rashid Rauf, the bombers' link man in Pakistan, Washington forced British police to detain the suspects in the UK before all the evidence had been gathered, it was claimed.

Yesterday three British Muslims - Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Tanvir Hussain and Assad Sarwar - were finally convicted of plotting to blow up seven transatlantic airliners in mid-air in a co-ordinated attack intended to surpass the horror of 9/11. But the plotters were arrested before they had bought the airline tickets that would have been the ultimate proof of their intentions. Police fear that several key figures of the plot have remained free.

Andy Hayman, who was the Metropolitan Police's Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations at the time of the plot, said he believed that the White House had grown jittery as the British updated them of the mounting evidence of a plot targeted at American cities.

Brave Sir Rob-- I mean, Dick Cheney! Not wanting to see American cities attacked once more on his watch, he decided to arrest one of the linchpins of the attacks, thus blowing the cover of an in-depth undercover investigation.
The anti-terror chief of Scotland Yard all but calls Cheney a coward in an op-ed piece in today's London Times:

Fearful for the safety of American lives, the US authorities had been getting edgy, seeking reassurance that this was not going to slip through our hands. We moved from having congenial conversations to eyeball-to-eyeball confrontations.

We thought we had managed to persuade them to hold back so we could develop new opportunities and get more evidence to present to the courts. But I was never convinced that they were content with that position. In the end, I strongly suspect that they lost their nerve and had a hand in triggering the arrest in Pakistan.

(emphasis added) As it was, it took two trials and one acquittal as well as one plotter receiving a reduced conviction and a "controlled release" (meaning he's under British surveillance constantly) before anyone was convicted of actually trying to bring down a plane headed for either Chicago, Toronto, New York, Washington, San Francisco, or Montreal.
Seven transatlantic airliners were targeted, according to Hayman. That calculates to something on the order of 3,500 people or more, exceeding the death toll on September 11, as well as the 7/7 bombings in London's Underground and buses.
You may remember the original alert...I sure do...because this was the plot that forced us starting in August 2006 to carry less than 3 oz of any liquid on board a plane, in a one-quart sealed bag.
Al Qaeda seems determined to use our airlines as weapons in their jihad. Of course, neither Cheney nor Bush will admit their fear created a dangerous situation.
But we will, and we will remember.