Belaboring the Obvious

Friday, June 23, 2006


Thirty years ago, that was a David Steinberg joke. The psychiatrist tells his nervous patient, "trust me, you have to have trust. Trust me and I'll make you well again." Then he walks behind the couch and yells, "booga-booga!" It was good for some laughs then, and it ought to be good for some now, except that the guy yelling, "booga-booga" is the Vice-President.

The FBI has captured seven of the most woebegone schleps imaginable in Miami, and by all accounts, these people had as much chance on their own of blowing up the Sears Tower as I have of pole-vaulting to the moon.

But, right on cue, Big Time pops out of his undisclosed location to state that this modern-day bunch of urban rocket scientists was "a very real threat."

The FBI ought to be embarrassed... but, they're not. Now, either these guys, described as a mish-mosh of cultish ideas, knew what they were doing, or they didn't. So desperate to look the part were these dopes that they asked an FBI infiltrator posing as an al-Qaeda operative if he could get them terrorist uniforms. And boots.

There was Detroit, where the case rested largely on a day planner that prosecutors insisted was a map of aircraft at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and was a plan to attack, complete with lines of fire drawn out on the map. Only later was it discovered that the day planner was owned by a previous occupant of the house this "terror cell" lived in, who was insane and believed he was the defense minister of the entire Middle East and who had previously committed suicide, leaving the day planner under the couch in the living room.

Then there was Lackawanna, where prosecutors were sure that an email message from one of the group saying that he wouldn't be seeing them for a while because he was getting married was actually code that an attack would begin. Only later was it revealed that the person in question actually was getting married, and wouldn't be coming back to the U.S. anytime soon.

Then there was the mentally ill fellow who was sure he could destroy the Brooklyn Bridge with a cutting torch and hand tools.

Many of these pleaded guilty because they were threatened with having their cases transferred to military control, where they could be held in detention indefinitely.

And, now, there's the Miami Seven, as they will likely be called in future. Two Haitians and five homies practicing martial arts in an empty warehouse. These guys were having trouble finding weapons and asked the FBI infiltrator for help in that and in obtaining other supplies.

Now, pardon me. We have seven supposedly dangerous guys from the Liberty City area of Miami, and they're having trouble getting guns. Just stop for a moment and let that fact sink in.

But, "Big Time" Cheney thinks they're a "very real threat." They might be a threat, but more likely to themselves than to anyone else. If you were al-Qaeda, would you trust this bunch with money, automatic weapons and explosives? When they weren't even Muslims? Yet? (They seem not to have gotten around to converting to Islam.)

What I'd really like to know is the reading levels of these seven, maybe their IQs, and certainly their blood lead levels. I'll bet there's a story in that.

I don't doubt that they are, in some fundamental way, cracked. It's probably a good thing that indictments came down before they hurt themselves. But, making them out as if they are something they are not seems to be part of a developing pattern in post-9/11 law enforcement under the Bushies. It's supposed to make me wet-my-pants-scared, and all it makes me do is laugh. Booga-booga!


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