But there's something more significant to consider with regards to how the left perceives this terror plot. I'm reading Spencer Ackerman's post on this, "al-Qaeda’s Desperate Bid For Relevance, The Failed Plane Attack & Afghanistan." Despite his purported national security "credentials," Spencer Ackerman's woefully unserious about war and terrorism. Recall that this is the guy who called for President George W. Bush's death at the Hague, and for that reason alone his rants will garner the attention of leftist foreign policy vultures. A good example of this childishness is Ackerman's tweet from yesterday, seen here:
Then at his essay, he links to this tweet from Dylan Matthews (we can infer that Matthews means Detroit, not Denver):
There's a huge logical leap from suggesting that Abdul Mutallab's attempted attack was amateurish to suggesting there's no al Qaeda threat justifying a U.S. presence in Afghanistan. But that's the thinking of people like this, and it's surprising how much play such unseriousness gets in leftist policy circles.
Ackerman links to Matthew Yglesias' post as well, from yesterday, "Not So Scary 'Terror'." Yglesias writes there:
Obviously, people shouldn’t be lighting anything on fire inside airplanes. That said, all the big Christmas airline incident really shows to me is how little punch our dread terrorist adversaries really pack. Once again, this seems like a pretty unserious plot. And even if you did manage to blow up an airplane in mid-air, that would be both a very serious crime and a great tragedy, but hardly a first-order national security threat.I can't imagine the possibility of a single terrorist taking down a trans-Atlantic passenger airliner as being simply a "serious crime and great tragedy." While not on the scale of a strategic nuclear exchange, we minimize the serverity of such lower-grade terror attacks (dismissing them as "tragedies") at the risk of much greater -- even catastrophic -- threats to human life.
What's especially troubling about the leftists, again, is their haste to gain partisan points to downsize a forward American foreign and military policy. Just now, ABC News reports that there's indeed al Qaeda guidance and planning in the Northwest incident. See, "Investigators: Northwest Bomb Plot Planned by al Qaeda in Yemen: Officials Say Bomb Materials Sewn Into Suspect's Underwear by Top Terror Bomb Maker" (via Memeorandum):
The plot to blow up an American passenger jet over Detroit was organized and launched by al Qaeda leaders in Yemen who apparently sewed bomb materials into the suspect's underwear before sending him on his mission, federal authorities tell ABC News.But even in the absence of evidence of al Qaeda's ties to the Abdul Mutallab, we know the nature of al Qaeda's threat has been transformed significantly since September 11, 2001. Audrey Kurth Cronin, an expert on international terrorism, and the author of "How al-Qaida Ends: The Decline and Demise of Terrorist Groups," has noted recently that al Qaeda today is a fractured organization with a decentralized leadership. The group is more of an idea than an actual entity. As such, there's little doubt of the seriousness of the threat, since follow-on organizations will likely take up the initative where Osama bin Laden left off. Indeed, Kurth Cronin suggests that while al Qaeda's capabilities have been significantly weakened, and Western leaders have indeed suffered from an over-emphasis on leadership decapitation, "Even in its diminished state, al Qaeda and its franchises remain armed and dangerous."
Investigators say the suspect had more than 80 grams of PETN, a compound related to nitro-glycerin used by the military. The so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, had only about 50 grams kin his failed attempt in 2001 to blow up a U.S.-bound jet. Yesterday's bomb failed because the detonator may have been too small or was not in "proper contact" with the explosive material, investigators told ABC News.
Investigators say the suspect, Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian student whose birthday was last Tuesday, has provided detailed information about his recruitment and training for what was supposed to be a Christmas Day suicide attack.
And this is to say nothing of the larger military and political threat from al Qaeda in South Asia. The nexus between Taliban operatives in Pakistan, the Lashkar terrorists implicated in the Mumbai attacks, and remnants of the al Qaeda operatives from pre-9/11 Afghanistan remains a central focus of American strategic planning and national security interests. (See, Bill Roggio, "Al Qaeda builds a 'Shadow Army'.")
It would thus be pure suicide to take serious the anti-American rants of "experts" such as Spencer Ackerman and his terrorist apology-brethren in the Democratic Party. Indeed, "Attackerman" is already walking back some of his more stupid ruminations from yesterday (without much success, for that matter).