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Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
~Kurt Vonnegut
Saturday, July 08, 2006

Selective Moral Apathy

Earlier, I wrote a post entitled Selective Moral Outrage, in that post, I discussed the fact that some site, particularly conservative sites, picked on the New York Times for reporting on the monitoring of international money transfers. It wan't just two-bit pundits who got on this bandwagon. Senator Bunning openly accused the NYT of treason.

Now, we see a similar situation, but this time, everyone is curiously silent. I wonder if this could be evidence that the whole thing is being played up for propaganda purposes?
The similar situation I was referring to is this: There was a news item in the New York Post on 7 July, 2006, about the apprehension of persons who allegedly were planning to explode a bomb in a tunnel leading in and out of Manhattan. In their story, the Post mentioned the following:
Officials said the FBI had been monitoring Internet chat rooms and cited the arrest of the Lebanese suspect as a significant break in the investigation.

Incidentally, the Associated Press confirmed this:
In the latest case, a federal official said FBI agents monitoring Internet chat rooms used by extremists learned of the plot in recent months and determined that tunnels were possibly being targeted after investigators pieced together code words from their conversations.

As though to make it even more bizarre, the article states this:
"This is an ongoing operation," one source said.

Now, the question is, if it was "treason" for the NYT to write about the methods used in antiterrorism operations, why is it OK for the NYP and the Associated Press to give explicit details about a different method? Especially, why is it OK for "a federal official" to reveal the information? Even more especially, why is it OK for an official to reveal this in the midst of "an ongoing investigation"?

The paradox apparently escaped the attention of The American Spectator. They have an article in which they discuss both the NYT disclosure, and the disclosure of the chat room monitoring. They mention that they have a "source" inside the Department of Justice who confirmed the information about the chat rooms:

Our Treasury source wouldn't comment on the case. One DOJ source indicated that this case initially took off from monitoring of chat rooms that had been identified as havens for some of the plotters

In the same article, they continue the attack on the NYT, but they apparently feel that the disclosure about the chat rooms is no big deal.

Does this mean anything? When I see logical inconsistencies like this, it alerts me to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there is a little of the good old propaganda going on. It's not conclusive, but it is a clue. (People don't have to have a reason to be illogical.)

So if we hypothesize that there is a propaganda aspect to this, can we confirm that by finding more evidence, or refute it in some way? Well, it would be hard to prove that manipulation is not taking place, but we might be able to find some confirmatory evidence.

Let's look at an excerpt from Rolling Stone National Affairs Daily:
Now let’s turn to the timing. Here’s the most important line in the piece:
FBI and New York City Police Department officials would not comment about the investigation, which has been kept under wraps for months.

In other words, this is old news . . . of an incipient plot . . . that was defused before it left the chat room. [UPDATE: ABC’s The Blotter reports that Andalousi has been in custody for roughly three months, since April.]

They are quoting from the AP article that I linked to above. So we have the Daily News and ABC confirming the information. Rolling Stone points out the obvious question: if this story has been brewing for three months, why did it happen to come out on the anniversary of the London bombings?

As an amusing aside, they also point out the ludicrousness of another passage in the Daily News story:

The plotters wanted to detonate a massive amount of explosives inside the Holland Tunnel to blast a hole that would destroy the tunnel, everyone in it, and send a devastating flood shooting through the streets of lower Manhattan.

That, of course, would require that "the plotters" also have a means of making water run uphill. I would add that if "the plotters" can do that, then we are in big trouble, even if they do not set off any explosions. Once they perfect the technique, they might be able to flood Denver, Colorado. Or Tibet, for that matter. Maybe even the Moon.

If my hypothesis is correct, we should see, over the next four months, a carefully-choreographed, well-financed media campaign that plays up the threat from "the terrorists." It will appear to be sporadic, will come from multiple directions, and the mainstream media will be completely duped by it. Hell Heck, they'll gladly play along. Furthermore, there will be evidence that the response of progressives and moderate Republicans was anticipated, and those responses will be met with planned replies. There will be character assassinations. There will be charges that "liberals" are treasonous and politically-motivated.

Of course, none of the individuals who are running for office in November will be in a position to do anything about terrorism, so the whole thing will be a waste of time if people are logical in choosing for whom they vote.
posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |


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