Wednesday, May 5, 2010

No Running Near The Talent Pool...

The recent, ‘almost a car bomb’ incident in Times Square is garnering a lot of attention. Understandably, there's a fairly pronounced risk associated with detonating an explosive in the middle of a packed New York City. Yes, there’s live coverage galore, but for all the wrong reasons. I thought about this for a while, and I’ve come to the conclusion the always-present, always limp-dick media heavies are wasting their time.

I’m an erstwhile ‘journalist’ (I even have a slightly dulled Bachelor's degree to prove it), so I have an odd sort of predisposition toward analyzing stories and their relative newsworthiness. Is a story interesting? Is it topical to current events? Does it compel the reader to search for more information? Will the story stand on its own, or will it have to be padded, gun-decked and pencil-whipped without shame?

Those are the lead-off questions (or variations on a theme) that editors in news rooms often ponder the moment a story hits. In the case of the SUV-bomb, parked and waiting to dole out fierce retribution to New York’s population of infidels in payment for America’s outrages committed against Islam, there would seem to be plenty of newsworthiness to go around, right? Well, sort of.

There’s the trusty old ‘clash of the cultures’ angle;

'The lone freedom fighter, striking a blow for oppressed Muslims everywhere, and doing it in the heart of the Great Satan’s back yard (Lefties love this stuff)'.

There’s the obvious vulnerability of American citizens to terrorist attack -- a real grabber on the best of news story days.

Wait – sorry. I didn't want to say ‘terrorist attack.’ I meant to say,

“Isolated, alleged act of potential violence, as-yet unproven, and totally unrelated to any blatant cow-towing or ass-kissing we’re working with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

That's better -- can't be throwin' the "T" word around lightly, you know.

And the political slant, let’s not forget that. The President, now gratefully distracted from those pesky details of that thing happening down in the Gulf of Mexico, will surely face heavy public scrutiny from detractors, aiming to connect his administration with another episode of embarrassing security failures.

Naturally, questions about the President's overall grooviness will be countered by somebody at the Washington Post, who'll write:

“If the President’s crack security forces, headed up by Homeland Security Secretary, Janet “don’t call me Cabbage Patch again” Napolitano hadn’t pounced so quickly and effectively, it would’ve been 9/11 all over again,” blah blah yadda yadda yah.

It won't matter that Car Bomb Boy was sitting in his seat aboard an Emirates Airlines A330, taxiing merrily along on his way down to runway 31R at Kennedy Airport before somebody figured out who he was (a big shout-out to the TSA blue shirts who passed him through without blinking an eye).

But all this is hardly surprising, nor does it dig deeply enough into the story to root out the real reason the Times Square bomb scare is so interesting. Nowhere have I seen a newspaper, television network or blog site identify the part of the story that’s really compelling, which is, of course, the state of affairs within al Qaeda’s terrorist hierarchy.

Why is that important to a car bomb story? Here’s why: they must be running out of ideas, or worse yet, qualified car bomb guys, to have mounted so stupidly planned and amateurish an adventure as this.

Somewhere in the Middle-East, huddled in a Bedouin’s tent, four or five al Qaeda big-shots are squatting, shoveling dates and rice into their faces with greasy hands and foot-long beards. They’re disgusted, embarrassed and just plain pissed-off. An underling is reading from an Al Jazeera account of the search for, and ultimate arrest of, our little Pakistani-connected terrorist wannabe.

The story details evidence collected by New York authorities, which further shows just how idiotic the plan really was. Suddenly, one of the al Qaeda masterminds looks up, greasy mouth agape, still full of half-chewed, curried goat meat, and says, “Are you kidding me?” The others pause and look at each other with raised eyebrows, hoping somebody will have an answer.

“You mean to tell me this moron tried to ‘blow up’ New York City with a shitty, pre-owned Nissan SUV full of firecrackers and a couple of bags of Turf Builder? Seriously?”

Silence for a moment, then a lieutenant finally says,

“Well, yeah, Chief – he parked it right in Times Square where a lot of infidels hang out; it was a really good spot!”

The Chief blinks a few times, puts his grubby food down on the dusty floor of the tent, and shakes his head.

“What the fuck is going on here?” he thunders, “You idiots are making us all look bad!”

The lieutenant hopes to quell the Chief’s rising anger. “He’s not one of the first-string bomber dudes, but we figured we’d give him a chance to prove himself – he seemed so genuine in his desire to kill infidels, we just couldn’t tell him ‘no.’ And anyway, his uncle Raheem has a discount store in London, and they can get Nike stuff really cheap, so we told him he could have a go.”

The Chief is dumb-struck.

“HE USED FIREWORKS AND LAWN FOOD, YOU STUNNED PRICK!” he yells. “What happened to integrity around here, anyway? We brought down hotels! We brought down embassy buildings! We used their own airliners to bring down the World Fucking Trade Center, and this jerk-off just lights an SUV on fire?!!!”

“Hold on, Chief! We told him to get his bomb design blueprints from our secret web-site – they have a link on MSNBC’s home page and everything! Just because he took a few short-cuts doesn’t mean it was a total failure!”

The Chief tries to calm himself. It always goes in one ear and out the other with these fools, he tells himself. Have to speak slowly – s l o w l y. Keep the voice down; concentrate!

“Look,” he says, “I’m not trying to discourage initiative or anything, but there are larger problems at issue here. Ever since our glorious victory at the Twin Towers, we’ve started to slide. Osama, peace be upon him, has gone into hiding because every American devil on the planet wants to kill him.”

“You mean Obama?”

“No, Osama! O-s-a-m-a! Osama bin Laden? The Boss? Big guy with effeminate mannerisms and really huge lips, remember? Pays all the bills? Hello, numb-skull?”

“Oh,” the lieutenant says, “I just thought you meant…”

“Keep quiet, dumb-ass!” The Chief’s patience is going away. He continues.

“Just because the Boss has been forced to lay low for a while doesn’t mean we’re free to send anyone we want to do these jobs. There are standards, ya know, and there’s gonna be hell to pay when he hears about this!”

The Chief has everyone’s attention now – he knows a timely application of bin Laden name-dropping works like a charm.

“First, you sent that dumb-ass British guy with the scraggly beard and steel wool hair – the one who thought burning his shoe on an airplane was a good idea? What was his fuckin’ name…


“Yeah, ‘Richard Reid,’ the ignorant prick. He’s an idiot! But then you scrounged up some Nigerian kid and told him to line his drawers with explosives! I don’t know which is worse, the fact that you were stupid enough to dream up a plan like that, or that he was too stupid to tell you all to piss off! Did you happen to notice how bad that made us look?”

The lieutenant and the others can only look down at their reeking sandals – no way they’re getting off easy this time. The Chief is on a roll.

“And now, you let a complete half-wit buy a car, on Craig’s List, no less, and build a shitty excuse for a bomb that didn’t do anything except smoke up the place and stink to high heaven? And you let him do this in Times Square to boot? Where every American will get to see this and have a great snicker?”

“Well, the plans looked pretty authentic when we reviewed them, and he even had this…”

“Shut up, stupid!”

“Yes sir.”

“Now, you ignorant shit-stains had better listen to me and listen good. NO MORE MORONS, do you hear? They’re laughing at us in Kabul, and they’re laughing at us in Karachi – the infidels are laughing at us in Kalamazoo, dammit! The next time you send a car bomb dude to America, he better have his head and his ass lined up, understand? I’m gonna hear no end of shit from the Boss as it is…”

The Chief gets up to go outside for a pee, leaving the lieutenant and the lieutenant’s lieutenants behind to reflect on their future with the company, and the obvious, career-limiting consequences if the next attack doesn’t bring spectacular results. And that brings me to the point.

Either one of two possible scenarios dominates my view of this lunacy. The first is probably more serious than the second, but it circles a possibility that al Qaeda might not be what it once was. We don’t get the full intel brief on the impact of Predator drone assassination hits (nor should we, for that matter).

We can only enjoy hearing about another dink getting his pre-paid, one-way ticket to "Allah’s Paradise Bar and Grill" when a Hellfire missile shows up. It’s at least possible the net effect of continued attacks on terrorist leadership structures has had a deeper result than we know. Saddam had everyone thinking his linen closet was packed to the rafters with WMD, and we all believed it, so why would this be any different?

You can recruit new morons every day, but you can’t stick them into senior roles (with the necessary risk exposure) overnight. It takes time to build a proper al Qaeda ‘career,’ and a lot of that seems to have been rooted in old boy network sentiment. “He’s been around for a long time, so he gets to be the big-shot.” They don’t get their stripes by blowing themselves into shreds and tatters at age 22.

The second possibility is slightly more rewarding, from a mean-spirited point of view like mine. Maybe, just maybe, the thinning of the ranks has resulted in a necessity to throw in the Junior Varsity losers. Perhaps they don’t have many decent car bomb dudes just now, and until they train a new crew, the dullards and glory-seeking amateurs will have to suffice.

The possibility doesn’t bode well for the Movement’s international operations, of course, but it might be a signal to the West to pour on the firepower now, while we have the chance. The obvious answer is, and has always been, kill every al Qaeda guy you can find. Use any method you can, profile and discriminate, persecute and torture, make them watch re-runs of The Flying Nun – everything’s ‘on the table’.

You would think there would come a point at which there isn’t enough senior planners to keep things running, and the lack of discipline among the newbies will ultimately lead the hunters to the whole lot of them in the end.

Kill off the big-shots faster than they can be created, and shooting the underlings won’t be so difficult, and serious attacks on the West may decline perpetually.

All of which begs these two questions:

Are the al Qaeda boys running out of talent, or are they just getting a lot more stupider? I would like to think it’s the latter, but reality is easier visited on the former. Makes me want to become a lobbyist for Raytheon (or whomever constructs Hellfire missiles) when I grow up.

There’s a splendid irony to all this, too. How nice that the stupidity of TTNG (Terrorists, The Next Generation) is becoming more pronounced than the stupidity of the Obama administration’s Homeland Security pretenders! Is there hope for us yet?

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