"Bomb Plot Foiled!" "4 Men Charged in Plot to Bomb Kennedy Airport!" Headlines blared the success of the FBI, New York City Police, and Kennedy International Airport Security. Certainly the prevention of a terrorist attack is something to announce and celebrate. Substantive victories in this "War on Terror" seem few and far between while casualties in Iraq mount daily - yet the language and style of these announcements seems to highlight a certain level ofdesperation.
Gallup recently released a poll indicating that just 3% of the American People support sending additional troops to Iraq. 3 Percent. That's a staggeringly tiny number in the realm of politics. Reasonably or otherwise, the Bush administration has fought long and hard to tie "Iraq" to the "War on Terror." In so doing, they have tied the "War on Terror" to "Iraq." Like an anchor, the national dismay at the Iraqi quagmire is weighing down the urgency, relevancy, and poignancy of the "War on Terror" and with it the impetus and significance of anti-terrorism in the United States.
And from this sinking ship is born Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly's ideological desperation; for Police Commissioner Kelly has nothing whatsoever to do with the Iraq war, save that he now faces the task of protecting an increasingly disillusioned and jaded population from a still very real terrorist threat. The strain is evident in the subtext of Kelly's remarks at the June 2, 2007 pressconference.
Four "would-be terrorists" sought to attack Kennedy International Airport with bomb laden fuel trucks. If successful, their attack may have touched off the airport's fuel reserves. If wildly successful, an incoming fuel line may also have been set afire.
Fortunately, their plot was discovered, their co-conspirators apprehended, and the operation brought to an end even before the it was financed. Without explosives, funding, or even a substantive plan, the four were a very long way from a viable attack - yet Kelly and others at the pressconference described the conspirators in words that evoke immediacy and urgency more appropriate for Fox's "24."
Roslynn R. Mauskoph, US Attorney for the State of New York, described the abortive plan as "one of the most chilling plots imaginable," noting that "thedevastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable."
"Unthinkable?" "Most chilling plots imaginable?" A biological weapon would rank among the "most chilling plots imaginable." The detonation of a hydrogen bomb on Manhattan Island would create "unthinkable" devastation. Four men with neither money, bombs, nor a well thought out plan constitute neither of these.
Commissioner Kelly noted the wost case scenario, citing concerns that the 40-mile long fuel line from Linden, New Jersey and feeds JFK could have been touched off.
We were concerned about the 40-mile fuel line that runs from Linden, New Jersey, through Staten Island, through Brooklyn and Queens.
Surely Kelly is aware that a kerosene line, even if set afire by an exploding fuel truck, requires oxygen to burn. The danger he alludes to, a 40 mile long rolling fireball cutting through Brooklyn, Queens, across Staten Island and through New Jersey would require far more than the payload envisioned by these would-be terrorists. It would require a Hollywood pyrotechnics team.
Even Bloomburg joined in the fear-mongering, though at least his remarks contained some sense of perspective and distance.
The fact that plotters conspired to plan an attack on John F. Kennedy Airport is another reminder that in today's world we face constant threats from people who want to take away our freedoms and destroy our way of life. Working together, NYPD and other local and federal law enforcement agencies have been on top of this unfolding plot for months, and they deserve our thanks and praise. This plot was only in its planning stages and at no point was anyone in imminent danger. New Yorkers should be comforted that the layers of safety provided by counterterrorism officials stopped these individuals before they could do any harm to our way of life.
Even so, the message was clear enough. Be afraid. You need us to protect you.