These are not good days for the Grand Old Party:
- The disastrous war in Iraq has caused the unnecessary deaths of thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. Because of this and the whole fiasco known as "the Bush Administration", the Republican party is facing the prospect of an electoral rout in 2008 that will make 2006 look like a shining moment of glory.
- The Attorney General has been exposed as a knowing stooge to White House schemers who have tried to purify the nationwide corps of U.S. Attorneys to include only those who will advance phony voter "fraud" and other prosecutions designed to prop up GOP talking points.
- A pathetic group of GOP presidential aspirants are falling all over each other and their own words, desperately trying to find a way to run away from Junior Bush, embrace the exaggerated ghost of Ronald Reagan and to get someone buy their empty souls so they can be the successor empty suit for the next shadow gang of manipulative handlers.
In days like this – well, anytime, actually – the Party of the Rich will grab any thin reed to hold on to that which might keep it from finally going completely over the Falls, crushed on the rocks of reality and not-so-instant karma. And so, from the always helpful "Justice" Department, here comes the case of the Fort Dix Six.
For all the Fear the Bushies have tried to ratchet up to drive their agenda since 9/11, and for all the violation of our privacy and civil liberties, there is remarkably little to show for prosecutions of those who would Do Us Harm. Indeed, the hapless law-stretchers at Justice have found it hard to get convictions of those few poor souls they managed to indict. See this interesting compilation of post-9/11 "terrorism" prosecutions put together by the Center for Law and Security at the NYU Law School.
Some of the most interesting highlights: "the vast majority of cases turn out to include no link to terrorism once they go to court" and there is only a "29% conviction rate for federal charges of terrorism". This despite the fact that "conviction, no matter how short the period of time or how minor the charge, is the primary goal" of the government’s efforts. The authors conclude "either that the threat is much less than we thought, or that the policies of the United States have reduced the threat of terrorism through deterrence, and, yes, through excessive vigilance." The authors give the government a little too much credit for creating any atmosphere of deterrence. With the government wasting its time chasing around wanna-bees like the Fort Dix Six, what serious evil-doer would be deterred by that activity? My guess is, if they exist anywhere in this country, they have a good laugh and go right back to work.
But that doesn’t stop the wing-nuts and other Bush enablers to glom onto the news of the Dix indictment to toss out all the regular canards, not the least of which is Fear, of course; but also "the PATRIOT act works" and "we must continue warrantless searches of phone conversations, bank records, , etc." One look at the affidavit supporting the indictment shows that, while not as lame as the guys a couple of years ago whose first request when meeting with a fake supplier was for "really good boots", these guys were a long way away from being a danger to anyone.
One thing that jumps out of the document is that absolutely none of the vaunted PATRIOT act or extra-legal snooping touted as so necessary by the Bushies and their allies were used to foil what was already a very bad plan to attack the Army base at Fort Dix with the equivalent of assorted sticks and stones. After their DVD replication service turned an amateurish tape of their shootin’-and-shoutin’ play over to the authorities (even porn afficionados know to watch out for that happening), investigators simply applied good police work to find out what they were up to and eventually arrest them. The affidavit relates lots of phone conversations, but not from warrantless wiretaps – the calls are with an informant that was able to infiltrate the group (that they allowed the infiltration is a primary sign of lameitude for any self-respecting jihadist).
These deluded fools dared to partake in paintball training in furtherance of their evil designs. Paintball training! They also jumped through quite a few hoops to just get a decent map of Fort Dix. A map! By the time they were set up by the informant to meet with a fake arms dealer that was going to finally get them some AK-47s (they were arrested instead), the whole group of them apparently only had a shotgun, a handgun and maybe a couple of rifles between them. They would be the successors to the Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight, but they didn’t have anything to shoot.
They weren’t "terrorists" – they dreamed and talked about of being terrorists. They are guilty of impure thoughts and false bravado. You can imagine them jumping out of their pizza delivery truck at the checkpoint outside Fort Dix, the guard effortlessly grabbing the guns out of their hands, slapping them in the face and literally kicking their silly asses back where they came from. No one at Fort Dix was ever in danger from these guys, much less the rest of us.
But that doesn’t stop the wing-nuts from using the wacky antics of the Dix Six to justify everything from more illegal snooping to the Iraq war to the war on illegal immigrants (3 of the 6 were illegal, or something). In the meantime, Osama bin Laden spends another summer dancing in the mountains of Pakistan, the Iraqi "parliament" is taking a couple of months off and three of our soldiers are missing.
UPDATE: In the GOP "debate" last night, Mr. 9/11, Rudy Giuliani, used the Dix Six arrests as an excuse for the Iraq war, claiming it was proof of the "if we leave there, they will follow us home" nonsense. He also used it to play the immigration card, saying the lack of "reform" means illegals can "find a big underground to hide in". Oh, that Rudy -- like Bush, he's never seen a tragedy or crime that he couldn't play for political advantage.
And then there is Jessica McBride, who claims the media is downplaying the Dix Six story because, well, they're so soft of terrorism, I guess. Most of her screed is devoted to the fact that some of them were illegal (they "went to public schools and had businesses"!) and from the the former Yugoslavia, although 23 years or so removed (never mind that the 20-somethings came here as children). She also manages to suggest that the "secret recordings" made were proof of the success of King George's warrantless program. No. The recordings were made by the informant -- if he consents to the recording (he did), no warrant is necessary -- and there is no evidence that any of the extraordinary powers claimed by Bush had anything to do with the investigation whatsoever.
So, calm down, Jessica. You never know when something might happen that really proves your "points". But I wouldn't hold my breath. The hapless Fort Dix Six sure ain't it.