Saturday, November 27, 2010

Musings: Limited View

The rain came — again — just as Koko and I were about to set out for our walk, and so we waited, Koko pacing, me snuggled under a blanket because the house was down to 68 degrees this morning. Before long, it stopped and so we started, heading off down a glistening black street. Residual rain ricocheted off leaves as the trees shook themselves dry and tendrils of misty clouds floated up around the body of the Giant.

About midway through our walk, the rain came — again — bouncing off my black umbrella and beading on Koko’s coat before it moved on. Later, gazing out over the pasture, I saw it as black fringe over the foothills of Waialeale, a white curtain obscuring Lihue, and I realized how important it is to be able to look out on an open expanse in order to see the full picture, understand what’s really going on.

Yet so much of what we get nowadays is the limited view — the sights, sounds and images fed to us by a government and media that have a vested interest in dictating how we think, feel, live. I thought about that as I checked my Yahoo email account yesterday and glanced at the fare that website offered as news.

It included stories about how to deal with indigestion and bloat, which I didn’t read, though I doubt they offered this simple suggestion: don’t stuff your face with crappy food. Then there were the inevitable retail stories, which are impossible to avoid during the shopping season, when folks will buy more stuff they don’t need, get further behind on their bills and find, in the aftermath of ripped gift wrap and discarded ribbon, they don’t feel any happier, more content or secure.

Today there was the “terror” story about the Somali teenager arrested for a thwarted car bomb plot in Portland after the FBI fed his fantasy of jihad and helped set him up to commit a crime. The incident also provided an opportunity to sow fear among the populace and position the FBI as our protectors:

"This defendant's chilling determination is a stark reminder that there are people -- even here in Oregon -- who are determined to kill Americans," said Oregon U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton. "The good work of law enforcement protected Oregonians in this case -- and we have no reason to believe there is any continuing threat arising from this case."

Wow. Even Oregon. Things must be getting pretty bad. Indeed they are, the Associated Press assures us:

"The threat was very real. Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale," said Arthur Balizan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.

At the same time, I want to reassure the people of this community that, at every turn, we denied him the ability to actually carry out the attack."

Whew. I’m so glad they didn’t supply him with real explosives.

I’m not denying that there are terrorists in the world, although as the song lyrics go, “one man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist.” And I’m not denying that some folks — both in the country and out of it — would like to see America go down.

But what I’m wondering is, how far would Mohamed Osman Mohamud have gone if he wasn't aided and abetted by the feds? Supposedly, he hadn't been able to obtain explosives or even make email contact with an "unindicted associate overseas," to whom he had allegedly been referred by another "unindicted associate who is believed to be involved in terrorist activities," according to a press release from the Department of Justice. Is this part of the new “proactive” FBI approach, outlined in the November 2010 issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin?

Law enforcement training academies and continuing professional development opportunities throughout this nation do an excellent job of emphasizing and teaching the skills needed to both interview and develop a quality human source base identified by solid investigative work… However, law enforcement organizations need to shift their focus by emphasizing a more proactive approach to source development. Instead of employing a reactive mentality, they must look for sources of information before crimes occur.

And how many of the Americans now gearing up to hate and fear another group of Muslims, the Somalis, have any clue of our long involvement in that nation, which has included military force and air strikes condemned by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon? You know, ye olde terror begets terror, an eye for an eye, that kind of stuff.

Instead, all they see is the extremely limited view, as provided by the aforementioned press release and comments from an anonymous law enforcement officer, that another one of them bad Muslims is trying to kill good Americans — at a Christmas tree lighting, no less. The only thing more outrageous would have been an attempted attack at Walmart during the Black Friday sale.

So don't be resisting those TSA gropes and the radiation-delivering scanner and the profiling and the abrogation of civil liberties. Cuz terror lurks around every corner, ya know. Even in Oregon.


Anonymous said...

I think Somalis have been regarded as well as Romany for a long time here.

Anonymous said...

According to the article I read "Mohamud sent bomb components to undercover FBI agents who he believed were assembling the explosive device, but the agents supplied the fake bomb that Mohamud tried to detonate twice via his phone"

I'm all for being critical of our government, but I Applaud the Feds for what they did here. Sorry, someone using email to try and blow up women and children, and your complaining about the Feds doing great police work to stop him?

Anonymous said...

Personally, I do not trust the "science" that says scanners are safe. Where are the safety studies?
Radiation causes mutations of DNA...little or a's cumulative. Damaged DNA can grow into cancer.

I would rather be patted down and up with germ spreading gloved hands that be irradiated like a papaya waiting for shipment to the mainland.

Some interesting comments on this blog:

The American public will believe anything our government without doing some research on their own.

Who is making money on this deal?

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

So, if a husband contracts to kill his wife but accidentally makes the contract with an undercover cop, did the cops "feed his fantasy" of killing his wife and was he "aided and abetted" by them? I doubt this blog would ever stoop to saying that.

Anonymous said...

Dept. of Justice press release = govt propaganda.

The hate crimes are starting already.

Arson caused a fire on Sunday at an Islamic center that was the occasional place of worship for a Somali-born teen who two days ago was arrested on charges of plotting a terror attack in Portland, authorities said.

Anonymous said...

Glenn Greenwald agrees with Joan:

What's missing from all of these celebrations is an iota of questioning or skepticism. All of the information about this episode -- all of it -- comes exclusively from an FBI affidavit filed in connection with a Criminal Complaint against Mohamud. The FBI affidavit -- as well as whatever its agents are whispering into the ears of reporters -- contains only those facts the FBI chose to include, but omits the ones it chose to exclude. And even the "facts" that are included are merely assertions at this point and thus may not be facts at all.

Anonymous said...

More from Glenn Greenwald:

We hear the same exact thing over and over and over from accused Terrorists -- that they are attempting to carry about plots in retaliation for past and ongoing American violence against Muslim civilians and to deter such future acts. Here we find one of the great mysteries in American political culture: that the U.S. Government dispatches its military all over the world -- invading, occupying, and bombing multiple Muslim countries -- torturing them, imprisoning them without charges, shooting them up at checkpoints, sending remote-controlled drones to explode their homes, imposing sanctions that starve hundreds of thousands of children to death -- and Americans are then baffled when some Muslims -- an amazingly small percentage -- harbor anger and vengeance at them and want to return the violence.

Dawson said...

So, if a husband contracts to kill his wife but accidentally makes the contract with an undercover cop, did the cops "feed his fantasy" of killing his wife and was he "aided and abetted" by them? I doubt this blog would ever stoop to saying that.

Lame analogy. The essence of Feds-As-Heroes is political power. Those who get a warm glow at the thought of "Your FBI Protecting You!" should read up on the Bureau's history in general and Hoover's biography in particular.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's an exact analogy. The smirky "feds as heros" anti-myth is your addition. The facts speak for themselves. Any mythology or anti-myth you or anyone else brings to the story is on you and them. The facts remain what they are despite any desire of yours to diminish what the government did or of someone else to mythologize what they did.

Dawson said...

^ Q.E.D.

Anonymous said...

The FBI is here on Kauai! Thank You Lord! We needed them for years! Kauai let us ask the federal government for the FBI to have an office on Kauai. We the people of Kauai will be a lot safer with the FBI here. There is secret organized criminal families on Kauai such as the Mafia but they are more local guys who served as cops and as public officials on Kauai. Kauai wants the FBI to stay, we need the FBI to stay here on Kauai.