Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the portion of the War on Terror which has taken place in public view has been largely prosecuted far away from the United States, a fact which positively demonstrates the war’s success thus far in keeping terrorists away from the American homeland. Unfortunately, the remoteness of known combat operations, combined with the lack of terrorist success in the United States, has had a disappointingly negative effect on Americans’ view of the war, and of the terrorist threat that still faces us – despite the fact that terrorist activity has been taking place, and even more attacks have been publicly thwarted, in countries as geographically (and strategically) close to us as Canada, Spain, and Great Britain.
There have been several high-profile plots. On March 11, 2004, Islamist terrorists conducted a coordinated bombing attack on the commuter rail system in Madrid, Spain, killing 191 people and wounding a further 1,824. On July 7, 2005, four suicide bombers – known as the “Fantastic Four” to Islamists the world over who cheered their actions – struck three London underground trains and a double-decker bus, killing 52 people and injuring 770. In June of last year, seventeen militant Muslims were arrested north of our border after Canadian law enforcement officials learned that they were not only preparing to conduct a string of terror bombings across the country, but were also plotting “to storm Parliament, take hostages and behead the prime minister...if Muslim prisoners were not freed, and if Canada did not pull its 2,300 troops out of Afghanistan.”
In August of 2006, British authorities arrested twenty-five people who were plotting to smuggle liquid explosives aboard airliners bound for the US, with what was thought to be the intention of blowing them up over the Atlantic Ocean. In late October, though, it was revealed that the would-be terrorists’ actual plan was to wait until the passenger-laden aircraft were physically over American cities before detonating them, so as to “maximize the potential loss of life and economic effect.” Terrorism expert and Georgetown University professor Bruce Hoffman said the case “indicated that Islamic extremists remain focused on attacking U.S. cities.”
Unfortunately, there are partisan, professional “Terrorism Deniers” who don’t see it that way – not even close, in fact. To many of the most vocal members of the American Left, the real enemy is not those who would kill us, but the elected President of their country, and the real priority is not fighting terrorists who target them and their families, but rather ridiculing (when not outright attempting to thwart) any actions the Bush administration takes to protect America from future attack.
One prime example of a Terrorism Denier is the Los Angeles Times’s David “Was 9/11 really that bad?” Bell, who wrote that Americans “need to overcome long habit and remind ourselves that not every enemy is in fact a threat to our existence,” and thus abandon our fanciful, farcical “War on Terror.”
Another vocal Denier is Keith Olbermann, former ESPN anchor and current host of MSNBC’s “Countdown.” When not making an inexplicable comparison between Donald Rumsfeld and Neville Chamberlain (while claiming to be the Winston Churchill or the Paul Revere of our generation), Olbermann’s favorite pastime appears to be demanding apologies from the President – who, he has declared, is suffering from “frightening and dangerous delusions” – for innumerable transgressions, including going to war to defeat Islamist terrorism, and endorsing American military tactics which are “all too comparable to the actions of the extremists” (on the rare occasion that he sees fit to acknowledge that there are actually non-American extremists in the world).
“Terrorism is still being sold to the public,” he says, “as if it were a thrilling horror movie and we were the naughty teenagers about to be its victims.”
Lately, Olbermann has added a new trick to his repertoire: reprimanding the President for not showing sufficient proof that terrorist plots (hatched, one would assume, by those same terrorists whose existence he has vehemently denied for years) have actually been stopped over the last five-plus years.
Said Olbermann of the President’s reference to a foiled “al Qaeda plot to plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast” (the Library tower in Los Angeles), which he disrespectfully described Bush as having “personally revealed so breathlessly a year ago next month”:
It was embarrassing enough that you mistakenly referred to the structure as the “Liberty Tower.” But within hours it was also revealed that authorities in Los Angeles had had no idea you were going to make any of the details – whether serious or fanciful – public.
Who terrorized Southern California that day, Mr. Bush?
That turn of phrase – and twist of logic – would be impressive were it not so inane. Not two sentences later, Olbermann attempted to shove the entire plot under the rug, saying that it was “one of many al-Qaeda operations that had not gotten very far past the conceptual stage” (which apparently means that it was never actually real).
Other arrests on American soil just haven’t been glamorous enough for Olbermann, who, for example, derisively referred to what he called “those pathetic arrests outside Miami last year in which a few men wound up getting charged as terrorists because they couldn't tell the difference between an al-Qaeda operative and an FBI informant,” adding that “their “ringleader” seemed to be much more interested in getting his “terrorist masters” to buy him a new car than in actually terrorizing anybody.”
Shockingly, in his quest to debunk the idea of terrorism’s very existence, Olbermann did, in fact, address the London liquid-bomb plot referenced above. Unsurprisingly, it was for the purpose of ridiculing the actual threat posed by what a London police chief called “an attempt to commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale.” Said Olbermann, as though speaking directly to the President (judging by his habitual pomposity, he may well have truly believed that the President was watching):
Turned out, sir, a few of them actually had gone on the Internets to check out some flight schedules. Turned out, sir, only a few of them actually had the passports needed to even get on the planes.
The plot to which President Bush referred was a plot without bombs. It was a plot without any indication that the essence of the operation – the in-flight mixing of volatile chemicals carried on board in sports drink bottles – was even doable by amateurs or professional chemists.
It sounds to me like Mr. Olbermann is slightly bitter about no longer being able to take a drink with him onto an airplane – especially since he apparently believes there to have been no threat.
Olbermann and his fellow liberal Terrorism Deniers, who often cite the words of “intelligence professionals” to back up their downplaying of the threats that face America, do an amazing job of cherry picking – and generalizing about – those statements that they want to hear.
After all, the statements like that of Mark Mershon, head of the FBI’s New York field office – that “it would make your hair stand up to be in the room to hear that presentation” from MI5 on the liquid-explosives case – just don’t fit the template.
And when the real enemy is the President, and the real goal is promoting dissent at all costs, without regard for the lives that stand to be lost, in part, due to their cavalier public attitudes toward genuine threats, the template matters more than anything – including, and especially, reality.