After learning of the London plot early yesterday morning from the television, which rarely tells me anything factual, I immediately began making calls to find out the details of what this alleged plot was, what experts believed, and so forth. I spent till roughly 7 PM EST running after this, until I was satisfied that, by all accounts, there was indeed a plot of serious consequence.
But what kept nagging at me was the sense that the White House was far too eager to exploit this, that despite having only learned of the details a few days back, they appeared to be aggressively using insider intelligence of forthcoming events to their own political advantage.
Indeed, all experts I spoke with confirmed that this was a real plot, that the Brits had been tracking these suspects since last year, that the suspects appeared to be heavily tied to Pakistan (a US ally in the war on terror), and that funding for the alleged attacks originated in Pakistan, as it did with September 11.
But yesterday's events were of concern to most, as they should have been, because the foiled plot appeared very credible. The one issue, the key issue for everyone I spoke with, mirrored my own concerns. The timing seemed terribly odd.
The arrests appeared sloppy. Scotland Yard was still involved in raiding and arresting suspects at the time the story broke, and the raids and arrests continued throughout the day and evening. The mastermind was still in Pakistan, when one would have hoped that authorities would have ensured his capture prior to the raids, as such a person could provide information about higher ups and financial backers. Why did the Brits suddenly move? This was the question that had experts completely confused.
My opinion on this whole timing issue is that the White House played politics with classified information, again.
We know that the White House only had scant details of this plot until late last week and only more into the weekend. The investigation is alleged to have been going on abroad since late last year, yet the arrests were made within days of the White House briefing.
The odd flurry of activity appears to have started late last week when the White House was informed of key details in the alleged plot. Things began to take shape on Sunday in a really striking way.
Apparently Blair was concerned enough about political leaks to mention it during his his conversation with Bush:
The article states that Blair is concerned specifically about US agencies leaking and about the US media leaking. Perhaps Blair has a short memory for recent history and White House tactics. But after this very specific warning, what does our Vice President do?
And what else did the Vice President say during this call or any other conversation with reporters? Is he randomly declassifying via magic more NIEs?
Then on Tuesday, Karl Rove calls the pro-war candidate on the Connecticut ticket, Joe Lieberman, after his stellar and world-watched loss to an anti-war candidate and assures him that all will be well and not to worry, allegedly saying: "The boss wants to help. Whatever we can do, we will do."
What else did Rove say? Did Rove reach out to journalists as well? Apparently the boss kept his promise, regardless, as Tony Snow turned up the heat on Wednesday:
"Meanwhile, the disclosure of the alleged plot is raising questions over the nature of the Bush administration's reaction to the primary loss of Senator Joseph Lieberman. Just one day before the alleged plot was announced, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said Lieberman's defeat signaled Democrats are "[raising] a white flag in the war on terror." And in his unusual conference call with reporters, Vice President Dick Cheney said Democrats believe "that somehow we can retreat behind our oceans and not be actively engaged in this conflict and be safe here at home, which clearly we know we won't be."
Is it possible that the White House, eager to score political points with the American radical right (note, not actual Republicans, those having jumped ship eons ago), actually blew yet another classified program by yapping to reporters and talking point crafters? In my opinion, yes.
In my opinion it was despite the Bush administration that the Brits managed to still secure the alleged plotters, not as a result of White House help in the matter.
The confusion around and skepticism of the alleged London bombings plot is understandable given the context of this week's events and the well documented past naked abuse of power by this administration in peddling fear for political points.
The mainstream media, however, cannot seem to separate two very specific issues: the actual London plot and the White House abuse of classified information to achieve political goals.
Issue of a Credible Threat:
The first issue is that there was a real, actual, specific plot with financial backing from Pakistan - some of the alleged plotters did travel to Pakistan to meet their handler, got funding from Pakistan, and are said to have been scouting airports. The British domestic authorities did fantastic work on tracking these events. The basics of the alleged plot are confirmed by many experts both in the states and abroad. This was real. And this was handled very well by British authorities.
Incidentally, apparently Blair thought it wise to stay on vacation as did our own President. (Source)
Issue of Politically Motivated Leaks of Classified Information - Again:
But the mainstream media is confusing an actual plot with a White House political ploy and missing the real issue: What did the White House leak and when did it leak it? And once again, with the emotional disinterest of a true psychopath, Bush remained on vacation while the entire country went screaming with fear and dumping drinks, toothpaste, and other contraband as though American officials "never could have imagined" that such things could be used as explosives.
In fact, in 1993 the nation and the world knew that explosives could be smuggled in such a way.
Yet even after September 11, this administration did nothing to secure our airports outside of searching small children, a former Vice President, and disabled elderly citizens, all in an effort to locate a religious extremist.
The sudden panic of yesterday's surprise red alert, was not so sudden. We later learned that the President, still on vacation, issued the red alert the night before.
What was leaked and to Whom?
We know that all agency heads were briefed by the White House and that Tony Snow knew, Dick Cheney held a private press conference with pet reporters, Karl Rove called Lieberman, talking points made their rounds via right wing outlets and mouths.
While all of this chatter is going on in the States, the Brits must have watched with horror. In my opinion, their move to arrest the suspects on Thursday was more about a sleazy White House political machine and the possibility that loose lips from the White House could jeopardize the investigation, which was nearing its end.
This again, is my own opinion. Is this cynical. Yes. But look who we are talking about after all.
I would not put it past Cheney to do with this information what he did with the CIA leak case. There is no reason to give any of these people the benefit of trust, not after all of the lies, machinations, abuse of journalism, abuse of a world size platform, and all of the effort and funding that has gone into creating an image of competence, honesty, strength, and concern for American people. All of the effort toward the image and no effort toward national security.
Are we going to have this much fun with politics until the mid-term elections? Will there be more leaked victories that have nothing to do with this government and will those leaks continue to harm our national security?
Now consider the implications in real world terms, not the politics of GOP sleaze and slime. The mechanics of the plot targeted planes bound for the US, with US citizens among the passengers, and the White House held a teleconference with reporters to provide "talking points," made calls to sheep dipped Democrats to give them a head's up, and even informed the press secretary who still thinks he is an employee of Fox news.
And this is just what we know thus far. As I have said, and as cynical as it sounds, I can imagine Cheney making a few pre-emptive leaks. Again, only my own opinion.
What if playing politics with classified information, however, had resulted in the plotters being tipped off and cutting loose before the Brits could get to them? What if that led to US deaths at a later date when the alleged plotters regrouped with some more help from ISI and its agents? Is politics this sleazy worth any of our lives?
And really, ISI helping out makes me more worried not less.
It appears that at the very least, this administration believes that our sanity as a nation is worth less than a GOP win. Has there ever been a time in US history when a campaign manager worked directly out of the White House, and had the highest security clearances? Now imagine a morally bankrupt, soulless, intellectually perverted campaign manager with the highest security clearances, working out of the seat of power, using government agencies and resources at his disposal.
How is this allowed?
How is this ethical, legal, and why is any foreign nation going to share anything with our government going forward? Would you?
If you were Lybia and Pakistan you would, of course. The irony is beyond sad.
Are we safer now than we were before September 11th?
No. We were not safe to begin with because this administration failed to do its job in preventing the attacks of that tragedy. We were made even less safe when the administration decided to forget the mastermind (Osama bin Laden) of those attacks and instead attack an innocent nation (Iraq) and under false pretenses. We were made less safe still because the one nation tied to the mastermind that we did attack (Afghanistan) was not secured, and the people we claimed to have removed (Taliban) are back in power, and with a grudge.
We are by far even less safe after the White House created torture camps all over the world, collecting thousands of innocent people off the streets and holding them hostage for years, only to release them without so much as an apology. I think they too would have a grudge.
We have become even more unsafe because this administration spent all of our national security funding, that is, funding earmarked for securing our nation, on Halliburton and Blackwater contracts, and on building a big, palace like base in Iraq.
We are even less secure after this administration has made it quite clear that it intends to invade other Muslim nations, has partnered with Pakistan and Libya to do it, and has shunned the rest of the civilized world.
We have been at near zero safety since Bush and Cheney were appointed to their positions in 2000 and we will continue to have our safety downgraded with every passing second that this cabal has control over our precious, soon to be extinguished democracy. They are not strong on national security. They are strong on propaganda. .
If we actually survive this administration, it will be despite their efforts, not because of them.