Bush of the Bouncing Ball and Politicizing Alerts

It has been well established at this point that the Bush Administration had a coordinated plan to push a politicization of the UK terrorist arrests. They knew about the coming revelation, and stacked up their "terrorist-sympathizer" rhetoric to make the most of the opportunity. Well, I say the UK plot is worth discussing politically, because it is yet further evidence of the dangerous incompetence with which the Administration has been pursuing the War on Terror.

The serious amongst us Americans realize that as adults, you deal with the most important problems first, no matter what the context. Well, we knew this liquid explosives attack was a problem, according to this NYTimes Editorial:
The most frightening thing about the foiled plot to use liquid explosives to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic is that both the government and the aviation industry have been aware of the liquid bomb threat for years but have done little to prepare for it. What saved everyone was apparently superb intelligence work by the British, who apprehended the terrorists before they could carry out their scheme. It is unlikely that any of the scanning machines or screening personnel deployed at airports would have detected the potentially destructive materials before they could be carried aboard."
We knew this was a threat, and we did nothing to deal with the danger it has represented every single day since 9/11. These are the lowest requirements for the War on Terror, and we are not even attempting to meet them. The last time I was on a flight, the swarthy man with the B.O. near me could have blown a nice hole in the plane with this bottle of carry-on shampoo and a couple of disposable cameras. Perhaps, as in the case of Osama bin Laden, President Bush wasn't concerned about that threat. He didn't think it was "important."

Instead of behaving like a serious-minded adult in dealing with the many threats of terrorism, our President chased the pretty bouncing ball into Iraq. We pursued the false machismo strategy of invading another country that had nothing to do with Anti-American terrorism instead of trying realistic remediation of these real-world dangers. If there is known offense technology that pierces our defenses - especially in the airline industry - we need to be doing everything we can to eliminate that threat. If that means inconveniencing people by not allowing them to take carry-on liquids, then so be it. Require all bags to be checked, or whatever other steps you need to take to ensure my safe travel. There is no excuse for knowing of an operative threat and doing nothing to address that threat. Even Microsoft takes security more seriously.

This is the pattern we have seen over and over. The big, showy displays of so-called "toughness" get implemented while actual threats are glossed over and their fixes left undone. When politics is in play no one likes fixes that aren't sexy, and there's nothing sexier than dropping a brace of 500lbs bombs on a den of terrorists. It's so sexy, in fact, that you don't even really need to be sure it's terrorists that you're hitting. Politically, back home, it's the same no matter what you end up scattering to the winds in a hail of shrapnel - as long as the footage is good, the message gets delivered.

So, because no conservatives like the positively Clintonian method of addressing problems through "small bore initiatives," our vulnerabilities remain unaddressed. Our rail lines are completely unsecured, our ports don't screen the containers shipped into the States, and our borders are almost completely open. With the revelation of this UK plot, we are reminded that even our airlines - supposedly secured after 9/11 - still have gaping security holes just waiting to be exploited.

How is it, then, that the Administration can claim that it is the loyal opposition who are soft on terrorism? With so many threats left unaddressed, how is it that these supposed "grownups" consider themselves "serious?"

I pray that the Democratic Party will put its dukes up on this one. Politics is much more like boxing than it is chess, and this is our opportunity to show the country we can attack weakness as well as the Republicans. Through those attacks on weakness, we will show our strength and make the American people even more comfortable with the thought of Democrats protecting them.

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