Prediction: Cocaine will lose its luster, thanks to anthrax. Who wants to go snorting powder from a stranger into your lungs?
An amazing piece of writing — though ultimately unconvincing, even troubling — by John le CarrÈ in the Sunday Times of London: “By the accepted rules of terrorist engagement, of course, the war is long lost. By us. What victory can we possibly achieve that matches the defeats we have already suffered, let alone the defeats that lie ahead? ‘Terror is theatre,’ a soft-spoken Palestinian firebrand told me in Beirut in 1982….” What le CarrÈ is really lamenting is that no one listened to him at the close of the cold war by tranforming the world with his rendition of the Marshall Plan: lots of food and friendliness. He regrets that he can’t whine about Kyoto or bad British health care without seeming like a crackpot liberal, disloyal to our loyal Mr. Blair. He is sad that he can’t still call Putin a war criminal. This man who understands strange alliances of necessity better than most any writer ever — this man who defined the cold war in literature — now oddly has a very hard time understanding the requirements of today’s alliances against evil. He sees too much gray, too little black and white. But this is not a world colored in cold-war, post-war Berlin gray. This is a world colored in black evil and white good. This is a Hitler world, not a Kruschev world. This is a war that requires victory, not a draw. This is not a war that le CarrÈ understands.
– Guardian: Some say the anthrax starts with Iraq.
– Instapundit via Ken Layne says anthrax is “total flop as a terrorist attack: a few people exposed and one death.” I disagree. If the point is to destabilize and generally freak our your enemy, it’s working quite well.
– Judith Miller’s first-person story on her NY Times anthrax scare.
Rudy’s next job: It’s obvious that as soon as he leaves New York’s City Hall, Rudolph Guliani should be the Attorney General. He needs to get in there and clean up the FBI and Justice Department (see yesterday’s post below on how they are endangering our lives). Rudy can do that. And he is a great prosecutor. Move the nominally effective political eccentric John Ashcroft over to another job where he can hold prayer breakfasts until lunch and let’s get a pro in the job! We need Rudy!
– Good piece on the Palestinian bind from Al-Ahram.
– Terrorists cased DisneyWorld, Disneyland, Sears Tower, Mall of America.
– Debka: “Bin Laden and his fundamentalists regard the US media as the foremost propagators of the American way of life and a pillar of democratic US government. While possessing the computer technology for disrupting publication and broadcasts, Al Qaeda evidently rates biological warfare far more effective as a weapon of fear against American society.”
– Blogrolling: Thanks for nice links from Matt Welch, Dave, and Marc Brown.
Enraged: Our screw-up FBI and Justice Department are now not just messing with the big cases they screw up; they are messing with our lives. These idiots knew that there was an attack on the media in Florida and then in New York and they didn’t warn media companies. They said on Friday that the attack on NBC was not connected to the attack on American Media. Bull! Anthrax is the connection. Duh. Now add the fact that the letters to NBC and the NY Times came from Florida. Double duh. They said — in a press conference Friday with the knucklehead head of the New York FBI office — that they didn’t warn media companies because they didn’t know until today that the NBC case was anthrax. Don’t buy it. Why did the doctor treating Brokaw’s assistant just happen to prescribe the one antiobiotic associated with anthrax: Cithro? The NBC victim has been in treatment for more than 10 days and all that time, no other media companies, no other poor, underpaid schmucks in media mailrooms have been warned. Damn the FBI! They waste their time putting out nonspecific, panic-inducing, unhelpful warnings like last night’s “Skyfall” alert (below) but when they have a specific and helpful warning to give — i.e., that media companies are being targeted by the first attack of biochemical warfare in America — they don’t say a damned word. Stupid and dangerous, that’s our FBI and Justice Department. Am I being oversensitive because this is my industry? You bet your sweet ass I am!
Now read the New York Times account the morning after and it’s even more appalling: The FBI did not test anything until TWO WEEKS after they received reports of the NBC incident. They did not interview the victim. They did not notify the city. The only reason these idiots found out that this was anthrax was because the doctor was smart enough to be suspicious — even though being suspicious is supposed to be the FBI’s job. Frigging, dangerous idiots.
– Richard Gere says we should love terrorists out of sympathy for “the negativity of this karma.” He is such a frigging doofus.
– Trump wants a parachute.
– Wimpy rap reporters.
– Good idea: Stun guns for pilots.
Chicken Little: So the FBI releases a rather ridiculous press release today saying they expect imminent terrorist attacks but they don’t know where or when or against whom. Helpful? Or just stupid? That’s obviously what the FBI nerd was wondering when he or she put up the press release under the URL: “http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel01/skyfall.htm.” Note: Skyfall. Drudge thought that was some official codename: Operation Skyfall. My colleagues who found this — Joe and Peter, to give them credit — are sure it’s the ironic touch of a Web geek who can’t believe how ridiculous this omnibus warning of doom is.
Update: Note that the FBI changed the URL to a harmless number, no “Skyfall.”
Dust: A month after Sept. 11, I have a bad relationship with dust. It was the dust the Trade Center became — concrete, drywall, plaster, desks, airplanes, jet fuel, papers — that I breathed in that day as I was lucky enough to get the hell out of there. Since then, I’ve hated dust. I don’t like breathing it. When I get it on me, I have to wash my hands. I see a cloud of dust or fog and it reminds me of the blindness of that moment. No dust-to-dust symbolism here. Just the smell and taste and feel and memory of terror.
The White House’s request to censor bin Laden’s insane rantings — and the networks’ compliance — is troubling; official censorship is always troubling. We have the right to hear every lunatic, hateful, evil, disgusting, stupid, dangerous thing this criminal says; he is our enemy, first-hand. It’s not as if his idiot followers won’t be able to see his rants and alleged secret signals on the Internet or via email and instant messenger; it’s not as if he can fire them up anymore than he already has. The networks were stuck in a place where they would have found it tough to say no. But this is a bad precedent.
– Ken Layne: “Something weird is happening in this country, and it’s not just Anthrax and suicide hijackers. The rational people on the Right and Left are finding — surprise! — that we have very much in common. We like it here, and we like the world.”
– James Woods says he witnessed a practice flight by terrorists.
I drive by the Al Salam mosque in Jersey City, where the first World Trade Center bombing plot was hatched and I note that they have brand new windows. Bulletproof, perhaps?
Rule Britannia: We all should be impressed and grateful for the extraordinary support Tony Blair and Britain are giving us. Blair has put himself on the front line — exposing himself to personal danger — as he stands by us militarily, diplomatically, politically, and morally.
– The official Most Wanted list.
– Oh, to hell with them. Mail them out. It’s only TV.
– Yeah, sure.