Friday, June 23, 2006

Major Terror Ring Or Al Qaeda Lite?

I just found this CBS News piece by Andrew Cohen. Here's a quote:

Why the cynicism? Because I've been down this road before. I remember when the feds charged John Lindh with conspiracy to commit murder even though he was sitting trapped in a filthy prison in Mazar-i-Sharif the middle of a war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance when CIA agent Johnny Michael Spann was murdered by thugs. I remember when the feds tried to sell us on the notion that Moussaoui was the 20th hijacker long after they knew he wasn't. I remember when the government told us that Yaser Esam Hamdi was so valuable as an intelligence asset and so dangerous as a terrorist that he had to be held incommunicado and without charges as an "enemy combatant" until the feds lost a round in court and promptly set him free.

I remember the hullabaloo about the prosecution of terror suspects in Michigan that later imploded amid allegations of prosecutorial misconduct (the prosecutors failed to turn over exculpatory evidence). And of course I will never forget John Ashcroft, then-attorney general, interrupting a visit to Russia to jump on a satellite feed to warn us all back home that Padilla was a would-be "dirty bomber." Today, Padilla is just a regular old terror defendant in a case his Miami judge this week called "light on facts."

Because I remember these things, and because they contain the common themes of over-hyping and over-dramatization that are possible here, I'm going to wait a bit before I declare this latest indictment a major victory in the war on terrorism. I suggest you do as well.

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