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September 24, 2009

Zazi Indicted for Conspiring to Detonate Bombs

I'm not sure why the article's headline says the indictment was for "WMD" -- I suppose it's possible WMD has become a law enforcement term of art including explosives intended to kill many at once. But it seems very, very misleading for the media to claim this when everyone's understanding is that WMD means chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

I've been sitting here wondering what WMD the guy had.

I don't want to pull a nutroots and say the media is trying to give Obama a bigger anti-terrorism coup than he has by pushing the WMD line, but I cannot imagine the press calling peroxide-based bombs "WMD" if Bush were the president overseeing the arrests. Bombs are bad and I sure do not mean to denigrate the plot -- but bombs are not what we understand as "WMD."

Anyway, indictment in.

According to the Department of Justice, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York returned a one-count indictment alleging that between Aug. 1, 2008 and Sept. 21, 2009, Zazi knowingly and intentionally conspired with others to use one or more weapons of mass destruction, specifically explosive bombs and other similar explosive devices, against persons or property within the United States.

...

Zazi, his father and New York City imam Ahmad Wais Afzali were all scheduled to be in court for detention hearings later Thursday in Denver and New York. Authorities say they found bomb-making instructions on a hard drive on Zazi's laptop computer but still were unsure of the specific target or scope of a possible terrorist attack.

The 24-year-old Zazi -- whom authorities have linked to al-Qaeda -- his father and Afzali have already been charged with lying to FBI investigators trying to uncover the terror plot. Zazi met with his attorneys in Colorado on Wednesday. His father, Mohammed Zazi, was expected to be freed on $50,000 bail after Thursday's hearing.

The WSJ pushes the story as the first Al Qaeda cell uncovered in America since 9/11. This is why I grow suspicious of the leftwing media:

Hundreds of terrorism-related prosecutions, many for far more serious charges than lying to investigators, have been filed by U.S. authorities since the 9/11 attacks. On numerous occasions, U.S. officials have made startling allegations about terrorism suspects, only to later significantly dial back their rhetoric.

What is the dig about Bush "walking back" its "startling allegations"? Is it only now that genuine terrorists are being arrested?

And speaking of making startling allegations only to be walked back -- what is with the media's new policy of talking up a WMD attack when they only mean improvised explosives?

I want to stress again that I'm not trying to imply that explosives are no big shakes -- witness Madrid. Witness London. They are a big deal. But the common definition of WMD is NBC weapons and, while it's perfectly acceptable to change that common definition, it seems awfully strange that the media is selling "WMD Bust!" in headlines without even explicitly noting, "By the way, we are now hewing to a definition of WMD we hitherto never embraced."

Hell, under Bush, not even actual WMD plots were acknowledged as WMD plots. Jose Padillo? Aspirational only. And just a dirty bomb anyway, so, you know. No biggie.

Also: I don't really mind this definition of WMD, either. Makes sense -- a coordinated bomb attack could and probably would kill more people than a chemical weapon or bio attack. So it probably makes sense to define the term according to the intended or likely effect, rather than the vehicle used to achieve it.

However.

This definition has been available since 9/11, or before. This is the first time I have ever seen the media embrace the notion that conventional (though improvised) bombs can constitute WMD. The very same explosives, for example -- peroxide-based -- were intended to be used in the SkyBomb plot of 2006, intended to bring down, what?, up to ten airplanes crossing the Atlantic?

Was that called WMD? No, it was not. Why not?

Jose Padilla's other plot -- besides the endlessly-denigrated dirty bomb plot -- was to blow up an entire apartment building, all living souls inside to be killed, of course.

Was that a WMD plot? No, it was not. Why not?

If, as seems to me to be the case, the statute in question includes coordinated mass-casualty bomb attacks as WMD, this statute has of course been on the books since at least shortly after 9/11 (if it wasn't always drafted in this manner).

Why were WMD plots minimized under Bush? Why are they maximized only now, when calling a foiled "WMD plot" can benefit Captain Wonderful?

Here it comes:

I question the timing.

Apparently, at some recent date -- and let me just take a wild stab in the dark and say that date was January 20th, 2009 -- it became cool and hip to acknowledge the deadly potential of terrorist bomb plots, and, indeed, it became Standard Journalistic Practice to deem such plots "WMD plots."

And the media never alerted us to this change in the stylebook. Go figure on that.

So I've been sitting here for a week wondering if there was anthrax being spread around the city, all because the media "forgot" to inform me that in the Age of Obama they're going to include non-NBC weapons in the definition of WMD.

Ah: Ben asks:

I think there is peroxide in iraq, does that mean we did find WMD?

digg this
posted by Ace at 11:10 AM

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