Friday, August 11, 2006

this just in: steph mineart is an extremist liberal

advance indiana's gary welsh, perhaps still stinging from the scoldings he received from me and others this week, has struck back against the extremist liberals that he believes lost the war on terrorism by voting for ned lamont instead of joe lieberman.

in his latest post, gary quotes from americablog, dailykos, josh marshall, talk left, and—to add some local flavor—steph mineart (who is a reader of both this blog and AI, and who gary surely knows will read his post), and concludes:

Now do people have a little bit better idea of why I concluded that Ned Lamont and his supporters were extremists on the issue of fighting the war on terrorism?

this is an indirect reference to doug masson, who challenged gary in a comment to back up gary's allegation that lamont was an "extremist liberal" and who never got a satisfactory response. gary was then and is still unable to explain how lamont is "extreme" using lamont's actual beliefs—because lamont's views on the issues are totally mainstream—so he resorts to guilt by association. lamont associates with alleged anti-semites, therefore lamont is anti-semitic. some of lamont's supporters hold far-left views, therefore lamont is an extremist. it makes no logical sense, but then again neither did his previous posts on the subject.

the new post revolves around the recent uk terror arrests. jaded by a string of "massive terror busts" that turned out to be over-hyped, some liberal bloggers were understandably skeptical about the significance of this morning's arrests, as well as the new heightened security measures that bar passengers from bringing any sort of liquid onto an airplane. for example, bloggers at boingboing were alarmed by photographs of TSA officers pouring out bottles on liquid into trash cans. if we're really concerned about liquid explosives, why would we want to do the terrorists' job for them by mixing their explosives in a crowded, public place like the garbage bin right next to the massive crowd waiting to get through the security checkpoint?

so when liberal bloggers discovered that president bush has known about the impending arrests since at least sunday, they were suspicious. why was the terror alert level not raised until after the bust? isn't the terror alert supposed to warn us of pending danger rather than congratulate us on recent arrests? same goes for the liquid restrictions: why wait to restrict liquids on planes until after the people planning to use liquid explosives had already been arrested?

some bloggers had another thought: republicans and the white house have been telling us all week that a vote for ned lamont was a vote for the terrorists. tony snow and dick cheney said as much yesterday. if bush knew about the upcoming uk arrests on sunday, it seems likely he would have shared this information with cheney, which suggests that cheney knew full well when he criticized lamont voters for being weak on terror that the following day, the news would be flooded with reports of the uk arrests.

could it be that the whole "terrorists love lamont" meme that republicans pushed all week was orchestrated by the white house because it knew that terrorism would be back in the news later this week? is it possible that gary had simply fallen for the white house spin? that's a possibility gary can't accept, so he went on the offensive against those crazy liberals who think the bush administration might want to spin thwarted terror attacks for political gain.

gary doesn't do much to actually refute what the bloggers he quotes are saying. he expects you to find them self-evidently nutty. he does link to this time article, which he cites as evidence "that the U.S. picked up the suspects' chatter and shared it with British authorities" to counter hunter at dailykos's "conclusion that the British alone thwarted the plot". unfortunately, hunter never actually says that the brits did it alone, though hunter does poke fun at "[t]he rather less serious and competent U.S. response," which "seems to be to reduced to making sure that from now on, nobody can take bottled water onto airplanes."

to be fair, gary's point here would still be valid if it turned out that the US played an integral role in busting these terrorists. so let's look at that time article. here's what it has to say about this "sharing of intelligence information" we're supposed to be so happy about:

Britain's MI-5 intelligence service and Scotland Yard had been tracking the plot for several months, but only in the past two weeks had the plotters' planning begun to crystallize, senior U.S. officials tell TIME. In the two or three days before the arrests, the cell was going operational, and authorities were pressed into action. MI5 and Scotland Yard agents tracked the plotters from the ground, while a knowledgeable American official says U.S. intelligence provided London authorities with intercepts of the group's communications.

so MI5 (is is MI-5 or MI5? time spells it both ways in the same paragraph) had been tracking these guys for "several months". in the past two or three days, the US intercepted some of their communications and shared them with scotland yard. now, i think it's great that MI5 was able to go to homeland security and say "hey, these guys are about to you have any sigint on them?" but let's face it: that was the extent of US involvement in these arrests. uk officials found these guys, tracked them, and arrested them. the british did almost all the work, and only came to the US for intercepts once "the cell was going operational". maybe the arrests wouldn't have been as successful if not for those intercepts, but it's likely they would have anyway—MI5 had been tracking them for months and was tracking them on the ground. and we only know about these intercepts because of "a knowledgable american official"—an anonymous administration source who could be cheney himself for all we know. this isn't confirmed information; this is just one comment from one anonymous source.

other than the time article, gary doesn't give much evidence for why the bloggers he quotes are such extremists. steph mineart is apparently so crazy that he doesn't need to respond to anything she says. the mere act of quoting her is itself a refutation of her extreme views, i guess. when steph writes, "I think they're making a mountain out of a molehill, and that we're not really in any danger", gary does not deign to give us any evidence as to why this latest threat hasn't been exaggerated. when steph suggests that bush is grandstanding on the issue because of lieberman's loss, gary does not tell us why this is not so. he doesn't think he has to. he doesn't think he needs to; to him, the very idea that president bush would exaggerate and politicize terror arrests is so laughable that it doesn't just discredit steph, it discredits the entire ned lamont movement.

what i think, though, is that if gary welsh is looking for "extremists on the issue of fighting the war on terrorism", he should take a look in the proverbial mirror.

update: steph objects to gary's characterization, both in a comment and on her own blog. (on her blog she also links to a funny comic strip.) in response, gary issues a non-apology: "Steph--Please don't take it personally. You were the only local blogger at the time I did the post who had written on the subject. I wanted to add a little local flavor to it." so gary doesn't actually back down from his claim that steph and others like her are liberal "extremists on the issue of fighting the war on terrorism", but he doesn't want her to take it personally. he would've been happy to quote some other hoosier extremist instead, but he just couldn't find one... and he had to insult somebody! we are at war, after all.

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