When captured Al-Qaeda “mastermind” Khalid Shaikh Mohammed admitted under questioning that a terrorist attack involving the largest building west of the Mississisppi was planned, federal officials shrugged him off, concluding that if the alleged plot was in motion at all, it was only in the early discussion phases.
This morning President Bush captured nationwide headlines by drawing out the details of this alleged plot involving a shoebomb-assisted entry into the cockpit of a passenger jet, which would then be comandeered into Los Angeles’ Library Tower by a terrorist. Apparently swept up by the drama of a 9/11 copycat attack averted, president mistakenly referred to the building (now commonly known as U.S. Bank Tower) as “Liberty” Tower.
Four months ago, in the aftermath of the Harriet Miers disaster, the president made a surprise address in which he praised homeland security and international allies in thwarting at least ten alleged terrorist plots – including the aforementioned (yet not with so much detail) Library Tower. Bush’s vague proclamation prompted broad questioning (see Keith Olbermann’s fascinating “Nexus of Politics and Terror” piece). The L.A. Times was prompted to headline a co-authored article “Is Bush Making Up Plots to Bolster Support for the War in Iraq?”
While many are suspicious that Bush’s announcement this morning is to drum up support for his domestic surveillance program (only days after the not-so-satisfying testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales), it almost reads as if he is attempting to “terrorize” American citizens themselves — I mean, don’t statements clarifying the continued threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil despite the absence of such attacks since 9/11 sound like propaganda coming from al-Qaeda themselves?
Am I supposed to grab the wheel tight and glance up at U.S. Bank Tower in fear every time I drive down the 110? Can I expect to see visitors to Gehry’s Disney Music Hall milling about the rejuvenated downtown with concerned looks of imminent doom as they approach the shadows of the 73-story tower?
There is a good reason this is headline news throughout the country. Americans must be reminded that there have been numerous terrorist attacks throughout the world at the hands of al-Qaeda, including, most recently, the 7/7 (7 July 2005) bombings on the London Underground. Furthermore, we should be reminded that terrorists aren’t all that stupid, and therefore, it would be completely foolish to believe that they would use the same strategy again (fly a plane into a big building) when mass terror can be inflicted in numerous ways — the easiest of which we are in no way prepared for.
It seems irrelevant, and shows great weakness to point out alleged terror targets and attributing the claims to a captured al-Qaeda captain, who we now know was interrogated under duress if not tortured underwater.
Why not alert us of our security soft-spots that need more funding to thwart potential attacks such as the Port of Los Angeles (Long Beach)? Or, should we be attacked there, will we once again hear that nobody could have predicted the bombing of the busiest large-container port in the nation?
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for one, was blindsided by these new details, as was California Congressman Brad Sherman (audio).