Goose-and-gander Dep’t

Josh Bernstein points out that the Underpants Bomber case and the Shoe Bomber case were virtually identical, except that the Shoe Bomber case occurred on George W. Bush’s watch, and the Democrats decided to pass up the opportunity to demagogue the issue.   Steve Benen adds that two of the four organizers of the latest venture were released from Gitmo and sent to Saudi Arabia for “art therapy rehabilitation.”  That was in 2007.  I wonder who was President at the time?

Oh, and the Shoe Bomber, Richard Reid, was tried and convicted in civilian court and is now serving a life term.  That seemed to satisfy Republicans at the time, but now Peter King is demanding a military commission. So is Tom Ridge.  How is it possible to take these people seriously?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

15 thoughts on “Goose-and-gander Dep’t”

  1. Dear Mark,

    It isn't. But maybe we can avoid a certain kind of masochistic schadenfreude in our own discomfort — and I say this as someone who is familiar with the syndrome — in having to listen to this kind of nonsense?

    Anyway getting annoyed with Republicans for saying something stupid on any given subject is like getting annoyed with dogs for licking their asses. They can and so they will. At the risk of holding our own side to higher standards, if Secretary Napolitano hadn't uttered her own idiocy about the system working there would have been less of this noise in the environment. One more mistake like that and it'll be reasonable to assume that she's a fool too.

  2. They get away with it because idiots like Mark are ready, willing, and able to call friends and allies making reasonable arguments "infantile".

  3. Well, one obvious difference is that at the time of the Richard Reid event, no one had tried anything like this before, and for Captain Underpants, we had the Reid example to warn us.

  4. The Reid case is just like this one, except that in this case the CIA talked to the terrorist's father prior to his attack, and except for the fact that we've reformed our entire intelligence operations since the Reid attempt to faciliate intelligence sharing, and in this case the intelligence was shared among the agencies but they determined that denying a likely terrorist the right to fly into the US was too extreme a response.

    I am happy to see that Democrats are now worried about recidivism from those released from GITMO. That's an improvement from early in 2009, when folks like Josh Marshall spent thousands of words trying to debunk the reports of recidivism. Reality based from time to time is better than not at all. Some of us thought that it was a bad idea to send detainees to Saudi Arabia in 2007. Obama was in the senate then, and when this happened he didn't criticize the move, he called for more just like it and promised to close the facility. (If Mark opposed the release to Saudi Arabia it would only have been because he wanted them released in the US.)

  5. I heard an explosives expert on Al-Jazeera deny that this amount of explosive could have brought the plane down with the loss of 300 lives. He even thinks that it would not have punctured the fuselage, but even if it had, the pilot could still have landed the plane.

    See this story of a 747 which lost some of the roof of the main cabin due to metal fatigue – yet the pilot landed the plane & only 1 person lost his life. http://www.aloha.net/~icarus/picture.htm

    The pictures on Faux News of an explosion ripping the plane in half are a gross exaggeration. Some more reasonable discussions of the outcome are in order.

    It re-inforces how amateurish this effort was. Yet, if you research terrorist groups like the IRA or ETA, they got consistently more sophisticated and inventive as countermeasures were introduced against them. Al Qaeda seems to be going in the opposite direction.

  6. Somebody's floating a 'some experts say' idea, that Al Qaeda isn't even really trying hard on something like this. They sent a totally expendable schmuck with a pathetic set-up, and still caused panic in the USA. Bin Laden (IIRC) said once that all that Al Qaeda had to do to panic the US was to send some guys into a country to raise and Al Qaeda flag; this might be the real story.

  7. He may have been a schmuck, but his setup was hardly that pathetic. The explosive was very real, the damn plot would probably have succeeded if the syringe hadn't malfunctioned, and next time a-Q will simply provide its agent with the right syringe, a credit card, at least one piece of baggage, firm instructions to set off the bomb in the restroom, and quite possibly instructions to carry the explosive in a condom in his rectum (as has already apparently been done in the August plot to kill Saudi Arabia's counterterrorism chief). We have an extremely serious — maybe insoluble — problem, no matter how many possible agents are turned in by their relatives. Welcome to the New Age, and just wait until nuclear and biological terrorism join the party.

  8. Regarding recidivism, we have another serious dilemma. Several years ago, the commanding officer of Guantanamo estimated that about half the inmates were flat-out innocent — but I gather that early this year the Defense Intelligence Agency estimated that 1/7 of the released inmates had gone back to military/terrorist activities. Which leaves us with two very unpleasant alternatives.

  9. Bruce Moomaw says:

    "Regarding recidivism, we have another serious dilemma. Several years ago, the commanding officer of Guantanamo estimated that about half the inmates were flat-out innocent — but I gather that early this year the Defense Intelligence Agency estimated that 1/7 of the released inmates had gone back to military/terrorist activities. Which leaves us with two very unpleasant alternatives."

    A few things – first, I'll trust that DIA estimate when backed up by some reliable sources. IIRC, two Britons who were released were considered to have committed terrorism(-related?) activities for publicly complaining about being imprisoned and tortured.

    Second, at this point it's a fair assumption that *anything* that the Bush administration did was screwed up (with the exception of funneling money to the rich).

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