Sunday, October 04, 2009


One major obstacle to clear and critical thinking on terrorism is the famous nationally-read pundit who is upside down on everything.

Today's perfect example: Tom Friedman of the New York Times.

Friedman marvels at what he believes to be the ingenuity of recent terror plots.

"Or how about this ... Two weeks ago in Denver, the F.B.I. arrested Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old Afghan immigrant, and indicted him on charges of planning to set off a bomb made of the same home-brewed explosives used in the 2005 London transit bombings," he writes. "[Zazi] allegedly learned how to do so on a training visit to Pakistan. The Times reported that Zazi 'had bought some bomb ingredients in beauty supply stores, the authorities said, after viewing instructions on his laptop on how to build such a bomb. When an employee of the Beauty Supply Warehouse asked about the volume of materials he was buying, he remembered Mr. Zazi answering, ‘I have a lot of girlfriends.’

"These incidents are worth reflecting on. They tell us some important things. First, we may be tired of this 'war on terrorism, but the bad guys are not. They are getting even more 'creative.' "

In the real world, there's no shortage of evidence on the lack of creativeness of terrorists. Including the Zazi case, we have a now well-documented string of terrorist plots in which the conspirators run to buy up beauty store peroxide so they can have a stab at making peroxide bombs.

Only one of these plots, carried out in the last five years, was successful. And DD blog has written about the practice, again and again and again, even including pictures, formulas and explanations of what the terrorists were aiming at.

See here at SITREP, for a summary.

See here for a teaser to an upcoming analysis on how wanna-be Muslim terrorists globally scan the world network for the same old recipes on bomb-making, believing they can find something which will allow them to make a WMD as simply as baking a cake.

See here how Friedman's newspaper -- yes, the NYT -- checked with DD when an interrupted peroxide bomb plot hit the news two years ago. A reporter even furnished photographic evidence for examination.

The terrorists are not tired, Friedman says. Perhaps this is so. Maybe Najibullah Zazi never became tired. However, by the evidence in the public record, their thinking certainly appears to be tired, overrated and worn out.

Pundits like Friedman have been incredibly damaging to rational thought on the subject. Instead of actually looking at the recent historical record, they immediately jump to a wrong and misinforming whoopie cushion conclusion -- that the terrorists are -- in this case -- 'creative.'

Creative is not the word DD would use to describe would-be peroxide bombers.

Creative intelligence is also not what comes to mind when one thinks of a terrorist so stupid he accepted a Ford Explorer Sport Trac from strangers, the FBI -- as it turns out, who told him it was loaded with a truck bomb.

"Yeah, I know that if I walk around fuming at mosque or in public about the Great Satan long enough, someone is sure to offer me a truck bomb, no strings ... yeah, that's right!"

Yet Friedman jumps to the opposite conclusion, flying in the face of common sense and critical thinking.

And what happens when someone like Tom Friedman writes such a column? It gets copied around the world, used everywhere as proof of the powerful and ingenious nature of the terrorist threat, cited by others to frighten lay readers and observers into numbness, to cement or create security policies all out of proportion to the true nature of the threat. It is employed as a proof and argument from famous authority.

The only good thing which comes from Tom Friedman-like writings is a very small good thing. Would-be terrorists read the western press assiduously. Because many actually seem to believe everything in it, they too think such plots are ingenious, so they attempt to repeat them, with results which are generally fortunate for us.

In other words, worry about the person somewhere who doesn't believe all the crap written and recited by the famous at the top, who doesn't spend a good portion of his days hoping someone will give him a truck bomb, haunting beauty parlor supply stores, or surfing the Internet for various recipes to be scribbled on note paper.

Equally despressing: How often this occurs. See here from SITREP, back in May. Similar story, different famous journalist.


Blogger said...

Friedman is just dumb enough to be easily amazed. He should join Wolf.

2:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely you must realize that Tom Friedman has the job of nationally recognized pundit because:

A. He's stupid enough to believe in myths that paint the military-industrial complex in a favorable light; or

B. He's smart enough to realize he'll keep his job and make millions if he peddles myths that paint the military-industrial complex in a favorable light; or

C. He's a card-carrying, vested constituent of the military-industrial complex as a nationally syndicated pundit, a.k.a. propagandist with the job of helping to confound attempts at critical thought on sensitive political issues by mainstreaming upside-down logic; or


7:12 PM  
Blogger George Smith said...


From a review of one of his books, last year:

A few pages, printed in italics so one knows they're special, are devoted to describing this future. "Your car, by the way, is no longer called a 'car,'" it reads. "It is now called a RESU, or rolling energy storage unit..." A little bit of this goes a long away as techno-virtuous pap for boys who enjoy watching TV shows about what the marvelous future has in store. (Which it turns out, Friedman has been involved in briefly for a US cable network.)

At one point, Friedman devotes a few eye-rolling pages on "outgreening" foes as a global counter-terror and military strategy. And how an army unit in Iraq had implemented this by saving fuel through more efficient air-conditioning. Is the US Army in Iraq green? As compared to an Exxon Valdez oil spill or Saddam Hussein's torching of oil wells in Kuwait in the first war, maybe.

If he actually wrote something that adhered to reality, no one would want to publish these wonderful books and columns.

The rest is here.

8:23 AM  

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