10 August 2006

A severe risk of fading domestic support

Through the night, authorities in the UK disrupted a plot to blow up commercial airliners using liquid explosives.  About 20 people have been taken into custody and, according to the BBC, "most of the 'principle characters' were British born" and officials have reason to believe the "main players" have been detained.  Coverage from the Guardian and the BBC can be seen here and here.  The most notable difference with coverage in U.S. outlets:
Chertoff: Plot 'suggestive' of al-Qaida
By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON -  Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the terror plot disrupted in Britain is "suggestive of an al-Qaida plot," but noted the investigation was ongoing and no final conclusion could be made.
...A senior U.S. counterterrorism official said authorities believe dozens of people were involved or connected to the overseas plot that was unraveled Wednesday evening. The plan "had a footprint to al-Qaida back to it," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
What a surprise. 
"Suggestive" of al-Qaida.
An al-Qaida "footprint."
No "al-Qaida involved," though, is there?
The Brits don't even mention it--there not being any, y'know, EVIDENCE--but the U.S. officials make sure to float that connection to the press by 8:00am.  In a country where 50% of people still believe Saddam had WMD, the administration knows that's all they need to do to revitalize a boogeyman that's lost its mojo.  Their involvement in Iraq having given way to the sectarian civil war, Al-Qaida's been exceedingly quiet, lately, doing little more than piggybacking media statements on top of the crisis in Lebanon so they don't get overshadowed and forgotten. 
Now, Chertoff is doing their PR work for them so that El Presidente and the rest of the GOP can go back to invoking that dread name in the "Dems are soft on terror" segments of their stump speeches leading up to November.  And we all know how that hackneyed formula goes:
Fighting in Iraq = Fighting Terror
Al-Qaida = Terror
Wanting plan to leave Iraq = Wanting Al-Qaida to blow up planes with liquid explosive
Will that fly with--or even possibly influence--the 60% of Americans who oppose the war and want to begin some level of withdrawal by the end of the year?
Who knows.  The only certainty is that the GOP chickenhawks are going to try.

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