It wouldn't be the US this decade if the newspaper wasn't filled with the same kinds of spirit-sapping stories and evidence of fail right up until the bitter end.
In today's Los Angeles Times, the frontpage is taken up by one of the favorite US government/mainstream media memes from the war on terror: The pointing out of some al Qaeda boogeyman, sitting in the middle of a web of intrigue like Fu Manchu in the old Sax Rohmer paperbacks from my childhood.
In this case, its Anwar al-Alaki -- the Yemen-based cleric who's now supposed to be responsible for everything, including the airline bombing plot.
"Awlaki, 38, emerged as a subject of intense interest and concern to the US government after the Sept. 11 attacks, when authorities discovered he had been a spiritual leader of the hijackers while preaching at mosques in San Diego and the DC suburbs," reports the newspaper.
Always one step ahead of the US government, Awlaki moved to London, then Yemen.
"Since his release [from a stay in prison], he has used Yemen as a safe haven from which to build his Internet site into a popular global forum to spread jihadist rhetoric and encourage attacks on Western interests," the newspaper continues.
Consider, for a moment, this is the same newspaper which rushed into print a story yesterday about the fearsome al Qaeda bomb-in-the-rectum plot, the one that turned out to be not true. And which even your host stupidly believed was accurate for a couple hours.
The well-developed operating American script is one in which an arch boogeyman is pulling all the strings, connected worldwide to an army of jihadists moving to attack the US.
With Osama bin Laden, it turned out to be true. The irony of fail here is that the US government saw fit not to do what it had to do to get the man when it could. And now that it regularly names boogeymen -- all demonstrably not Osama bin Laden -- it doesn't matter even when they are eliminated by assassination or bombing in a Muslim country.
But perhaps there are even bits of truth buried in the story.
But past experience shows us that as time passes, Awlaki will just be, and has been, another convenient justification for assassinations and special operations in the Muslim world. And his death will doubtless be reported several times, as it has
at least once already.
And he will pop up alive again and again until finally rubbed out, at which point there will be the usual stories indicating great victory. But the bombs will still be going off in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in the coming months or years some other Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab will creep onto an airplane with a bomb secreted in a fake eyeball or in some parcel or purse no one thought to look at until it was set on fire in a bathroom.
After this happens, there will be the usual recriminations, political posturings and investigations that show the information on the new Abmdulmutallab was in US databases all the time and that some new cleric boogeyman had been pulling strings from overseas.
So for paragraph after paragraph the LA Times reporter and his mostly anonymous sources spin the tail of Fu Manchu Awlaki, at one point calling in the war on terror's professional witness, Evan Kohlmann.
For the Times, the professional witness part is conveniently omitted even though it can no longer be ignored by any reasonable journalist, with Kohlmann rebranded as a "[US government] counter-terrorism consultant."
As the US (and often the UK's) professional witness, it has always been Kohlmann's job to link a current suspected terrorist -- in the dock or at large -- to worldwide jihad and calls to cause violence to Americans. If one needs an expert to connect all the Fu Manchu-like dots, Kohlmann is the man.
For example, back in 2005, when an English jury let the so-called London ricin gang go except for loner Kamel Bourgass, there was Kohlmann in Newsweek, informing the supposedly astute reporters Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball -- reporters who hadn't bothered to follow the trial -- that it had all gone wrong.
"This is very disturbing,” Kohlmann, billed as "a U.S. government consultant on international terror cases," told the reporters. " 'These are dangerous people who are followers of Abu Hamza,' the radical imam of London’s notorious Finsbury Mosque, which was a favored gathering place for Al Qaeda-linked extremists," continued Newsweek, working the guilt-by-association angle.
In reality, the debacle of the London ricin trial, the demonstration that there was not an al Qaeda poison ring, and the acquittals associated with it contributed greatly to growing public British skepticism concerning utterances about the war on terror from the US government. And the results of the trial, among other things, damaged Tony Blair's government in the public eye and harmed relationships with the US, particularly in regard to the war in Iraq -- which it had been used to support.
The LA Times reported today that Kohlmann had informed Awlaki had been issuing fatwas "endorsing attacks by al Qaeda in Yemen and playing a central role in its recruitment efforts, logistics, strategy and communications ... more recently, he said, Awlaki had been instrumental in negotiating alliances between the al Qaeda affiliate and powerful Yemeni tribes that protect it from crackdown."
Of course, it could all be true. Maybe Awlaki is an al Qaeda Fu Manchu, responsible for everything.
Or maybe it's just more of what everyone has grown dreadfully used to as the year draws to a close in a decade where the US's leadership and alleged achievements have been deemed failures. Another mostly baloney story.
War on terror is good for business but not you
The end of the year is also incomplete without the usual story in which it is shown how American technology will come to the rescue soon and that, this -- in turn, means dollars and good jobs.
"Firms in position to ride security wave,"
crowed the headline on B1.
"Well before the botched Christmas Day bombing attempt ... a Torrance security company was moving to the front lines in the campaign to deploy advanced technology to thwart terrorist attacks," wrote Times reporter Hugo Martin.
One thing which has been a constant during the years since 9/11 is the constant bragging concerning technology said to be coming, or already arrived, from the private sector. And to DD's knowledge there is has never been any serious effort in the mainstream media to examine the years and years of promises and predictions and how -- dumbly -- it always seems to never quite be enough because of the ineradicable presence of human error.
Also a constant: The inability of US leaders to admit what they know to be true -- there is no technology to be had which can ever eradicate the threat. Stuff malfunctions, people make mistakes, the determined attacker develops work arounds.
"Some security experts believe the scanning devices could have detected the explosives that a Nigerian national allegedly strapped to his body ..." continued Martin.
"Rapiscan, a subsidiary of OSI Systems ... is one of several southern California companies born after the dramatic down-sizing of the areas aerospace industry over the last two decades. Those small companies mainly develop advanced systems that law enforcement and airline security agencies say are needed to ferret out weapons, explosives and other devices that may be used by terrorists."
"Rapiscan stands a good chance of winning more TSA contracts ..."
"For a company like Rapiscan, winning a contract would mean big revenues, said Michael Kim, an analyst for Imperial Capital in Los Angeles. Full body scanners for every gate in the country would generate up to $300 million in revenue."
Further on: "Terrorist attacks and the potential for more violence have catapulted the stock prices of technology security firms."
"OSI's stock has nearly doubled ... Though sales were off nearly 10 percent compared with a year earlier, said [OSI's founder and chairman]..."
Significant growth was expected, added the newspaper.
"Technology developed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory to detect abnormal levels of spores in spacecraft is being used by Universal Detection Technology of Beverly Hills to develop a device that can detect bioterrorism threats such as traces of anthrax and ricin," added the newspaper helpfully.
Ricin is not a spore and the newspaper did not explain how this would work. And the only anthrax spores came from the heart of the US biodefense research industry. This was not explained, either.
So on New Year's Eve, the evidence of renewal -- well, you just can't find it. It's just more of the same old grinding crap -- the al Qaeda boogeyman and terrorism being good for a segment of the American economy which, for the most part, adds very little, if any, value to the public good.
Unless one is deluded or a wishful thinker the outlook for improvement seems bleak.