Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 28, 2009

ON AMERICAN SOIL.... This paragraph, about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab following his failed terrorist attempt about Northwest Airlines Flight 253, seems rather innocuous, because it is rather innocuous.

A Justice Department official said Abdulmutallab was released Sunday from a Michigan hospital where he was treated for burns suffered in the failed bombing. He was in a federal prison in Milan, Mich., according to the Associated Press. He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Michigan on Jan. 8.

As far as I can tell, these bland details do not seem to have caused any meaningful stir whatsoever. Nor should they. But I think we can all imagine the various right-wing hysterics that could come up right about now.

A terrorist tried to blow up an airplane and murder hundreds of Americans ... and we're keeping him on American soil? Won't that make Michigan a magnet for al Qaeda? How can the Obama administration let this security risk exist in a Michigan community? Where's Pete Hoekstra and John Boehner when Michiganders need them?

And Abdulmutallab is going to appear in an American criminal court? What if he uses the platform to spew hateful propaganda? To a borrow a line from Rep. John Shadegg (R) of Arizona, won't the court proceedings encourage al Qaeda members to kidnap the mayor's daughter, the court clerk's kids, and the jailer's siblings?

All of this is, of course, quite foolish, and deliberately so. Abdulmutallab is, by all appearances, a two-bit thug. His presence in a federal prison, and later in a federal criminal court, is not cause for panic. It's simply the justice system at work -- we've done this before; we'll do this again. It's best not to freak out.

But the larger point has broader applicability. Bringing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to a federal court need not terrify Americans, nor should Khalid Sheik Mohammed's proceedings. Putting Abdulmutallab behind bars on American soil does not undermine our national security, and nor would any of the detainees at Gitmo.

If federal plans for Abdulmutallab are not causing right-wing apoplexy, neither should any of the other administration plans regarding due process and detainee transfers.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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Steve - Spence Ackerman got there first:


Posted by: Ohioan on December 28, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Now, 'two-bit thug' is over-stating it.

'Hapless bozo' is probably more on the mark.

Posted by: cld on December 28, 2009 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

"right-wing apoplexy"

Let's replace this phrase with "Republican Feargasm".

Posted by: spudvol on December 28, 2009 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I think his net worth is considerably more than two bits. Children of extreme privilege like to do shit like this, apparently. So let's abolish extreme privilege.

Posted by: rabbit on December 28, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Why no freak-out over this guy's incarceration? I eagerly await the mainstream media asking this very question of all the high-ranking GOPers stroking out over KSM detention in the US.

Posted by: ckelly on December 28, 2009 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly, that'll be coming as well as cries for Obama's impeachment

Posted by: Jamie on December 28, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

I think that one of GWB's lasting accomplishments has been the unequivocal demonstration that a large percentage of the US population thinks completely irrationally and/or can be persuaded of the rightness of the most absurd arguments. Either way, what the results say about the maturity of US society is downright depressing. And it's no wonder the rest of the world snickers.

Posted by: PowerOfX on December 28, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

It is an unfortunate state of affairs that the rethugnican party has become a parody of meaningful political opposition.

The rethug party's mantra has become a paraphrasing of the famous FDR words: We have nothing to fear but the loss of fear itself!

As defined by the rethug party, their base is 'the low information voter'. As defined by me, their base is 'stupid white trash' and 'reich wing religious morons'.

The controlling wing of the rethug party is the wealthy and their battlecries are:
- More is never enough.
- I've got mine, f*ck you.

Spudvol, I love your term of Rethugnican Feargasm! I will borrow it in the future - thanks.

Posted by: SadOldVet on December 28, 2009 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I live in Milan, MI and I can tell you what's happening...nothing much. We had Timothy McVeigh here and about the only thing we noticed was the influx of journalists. Not much likelihood of either escape or knocking over the prison.

Posted by: MichMan on December 28, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

I've been to Milan to visit a friend who was, shall we say, a guest there. It's no country club, and I think the republic will stand while they decide what to do with Mr. Hotpants.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on December 28, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting item on DU that all the repubs voted against the funding for the TSA - you know, all that detection stuff and such.

Posted by: JS on December 28, 2009 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

slightly off-topic, but related...today's front page story in the NYT about the terrorist whose visa was not revoked after his dad called to warn the State Dep't is frustrating, because it drops its own little bombshell, but then "leaves the room." By that I mean the revelation that Amsterdam airport has 15 machines that use millimeter wave screening, that might have detected the explosives on the terrorist. This is followed by the statement that these machines are prohibited from being used on passengers bound for the U.S., "for a reason she did not explain." Wouldn't a real journalist want to uncover that reason? It seems to me that, amid all the incendiary chatter and bloviation about visas and recriminations from Republicans, there lies unexplored a potentially useful piece of information that could have a material affect on passenger security. How did this prohibition come to pass? I suspect it's a privacy-related issue, but let's find out.

Posted by: brucek on December 28, 2009 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

And it is old friend DeMint that has been holding up the position of head of TSA, so no one is at the helm of that important branch of government. DeMint is afraid that Obama's nomination might let the workers unionize. We must get our priorities right people. Better to have the country attacked than to let a worker join a union.

Posted by: JS on December 28, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Further to Brucek's post I was reading about those machines that could have detected whatever the would be bomber had on his body, I too read that the machines were prohibited for passengers flying to the US, does anyone know why? That is interesting, and could it be that these machines were included in the budget that the GOP voted no in 2009?

Posted by: JS on December 28, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Certain quarters on the right are in fact going bonkers over this, albeit in a transparently ridiculous way. Check out The Corner at NRO; or, if your stomach is weak, try

("Consistency Is The Hobgoblin of Liberal 'Minds'")

for a (snarky) summary.

Posted by: alopecia on December 28, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think that one of GWB's lasting accomplishments has been the unequivocal demonstration that a large percentage of the US population thinks completely irrationally and/or can be persuaded of the rightness of the most absurd arguments.

26%, to be exact, as demonstrated by John Rogers' famous "crazification factor" post.

Think about that -- ONE IN FOUR Americans is either crazy, stupid, or so stupid they may as well be crazy. Considering what we have to work with, then, things may actually be a lot better than they could have been.....

Posted by: Stefan on December 28, 2009 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

let 'em bomb michigan - not much left here to bomb. most of the people have left. and it is colder than hell outdoors right now and snowing like a you know whut - so hell yeah let 'em blow the place up. who would know or care ???

Posted by: not much here on December 28, 2009 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK



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