Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Biggest Threat You've Never Heard Of

Prosecutors in California secured guilty pleas in a case being described as the most realistic threat of a terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11. The plot involved a group of Islamic-convert former prison inmates who planned to attack low-profile sites throughout California. The group was raising funds for its plans in part through armed robberies of gas stations.

The conservative blogosphere is upset that this case has been largely ignored by the national media in favor of cases centering on lunatic schemes that had no chance of ever succeeding. For once, I agree- it is ridiculous that the media, in part at the behest of the Administration's p.r. efforts, has focused almost all of its attention on domestic terrorism investigations on things like the insane LaGuardia Airport scheme and the Fort Dix scheme yahoos.

But while we're here, I think conservatives should take notice of a couple of points about the California case (which was by their own admission one of the few realistic threats we've faced in the last few years):

1. The case was apparently cracked through traditional police work- no warrantless wiretaps (or apparently any wiretaps at all).
2. The case was solved without the use of anything resembling torture.
3. The terrorists apparently had no affiliation with international terrorism like Al Qaeda.
4. The key to the investigation was apparently good coordination amongst investigators and government agencies- in other words, something that was sorely lacking in the pre-9/11 Moussaoui investigation.
5. The plot was hatched in prison, which is also where the terrorists became Islamic radicals (suggesting that it was at least in part a result of our overpopulated prison system, which is a result of that other "War" we always hear so much about).

There's probably a few other points I could add, but that should do it for now. But the bottom line is that respect for civil liberties didn't hinder the investigation, and may have helped it.

More at memeorandum.