Sunday, May 09, 2010

News from stateside: Aside from quotations and paraphrases from anonymous government officials—including “a Pakistani security official”—and the inevitable two cents from Bruce Hoffman, the latest report on the catalyst(s) behind the thankfully failed car bomb is built around ten known facts on the incident (1-4) and what it all means (5-10):

(1) “In a video Sunday [May 2], the Pakistan Taliban”—which we are told calls itself Tehrik-i-Taliban—“took responsibility for the attempted bombing.”

(2) “Besides the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda, groups operating in the tribal areas [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] include the Haqqani Network and the Kashmiri groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad.”

(3) The suspect, Faisal Shahzad, “is the [30 y.o.] son of a retired senior Pakistani Air Force officer. As his interrogation [described in the second ¶ as ‘days of intense questioning’ according to the officials’ account] continued in New York, he waived his right to a speedy arraignment…”—from here Mark Mazzetti & Scott Shane speculate that this could be “a possible sign of continuing cooperation with investigators.”

(4) Reactions: the “failed attack has produced a flurry of proposals” (my italics) “to tighten security procedures, including calls by members of Congress to more closely scrutinize passengers who buy tickets with cash, as Mr. Shahzad did.” NYC mayor Bloomberg “asked Congress to block the sale of firearms and explosives to those on terrorist watch lists.” [Comment is superfluous.]

5) DHS “directed airlines to speed up their checks of new names added to the no-fly list”—which is reported or at least rumored to have something like a million names, many of which are redundant or lacking context; another quasi editorial comment, “might have prevented” Shahzad from boarding a jet back to Dubai.

6) Sens. Lieberman & Scott Brown “proposed stripping citizenship from terrorism suspects who are U.S. citizens.” Jean Spencer reports that a “bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers” are aiming for “stripping U.S. citizenship from Americans who have supported foreign terrorist groups or engaged in hostilities against the U.S. or its allies.” The proposal is dubbed the Terrorist Expatriation Act (TEA), which would give the State Dept power to revoke citizenship from anyone “found…to be engaged in…providing material support or resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization.”

7) “One issue that investigators are vigorously pursuing is who provided Mr. Shahzad cash to buy the sport utility vehicle and his plane ticket to Dubai.” Follow the money.

8) “There is no doubt among intelligence officials that the barrage of attacks by C.I.A. drones over the past year has made Pakistan’s Taliban … increasingly determined to seek revenge by finding any way possible to strike at the United States.” Presumably, and this is to try to clarify, these intel guys are sitting at CIA HQ, which routinely conducts the drone strikes that are thought by the intel guys to be fueling our enemy’s resolve.

9) Baitullah Mehsud, who was finally killed on 5 August 2009, “boasted” in March of that year that “his group was planning an attack on Washington that would ‘amaze everyone in the world’”—doubtless reminiscent of our own “shock and awe” idea; this threat was “dismissed…as empty bravado.”

10) Tehrik-i-Taliban “has used a relentless campaign of violence to under Pakistan’s government” (which one?) and “has been blamed for the assassination of…Benazir Bhutto, as well as bombings in Islamabad [civilian gov’t capital], Lahore and elsewhere.” The connection to Kashmiris is not explored at all, even though by now it should seem at least a little transparent (note fact no. 2) and “elsewhere” which includes Kashmir.

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