Saturday, June 24, 2006

See, Mountain, Molehill

"In a four-count indictment [h/t TPM] unsealed Friday, federal officials charged seven men caught in a sting operation here with conspiring to support Al Qaeda and 'levy war against the government of the United States.'" Knight-Ridder (06.23.06):
"Even as Justice Department officials trumpeted the arrests of seven Florida men accused of planning to wage a 'full ground war against the United States,' they acknowledged the group did not have the means to carry out the plan. The Justice Department unveiled the arrests with an orchestrated series of press conferences in two cities, but the severity of the charges compared with the seemingly amateurish-nature of the group raised concerns among civil libertarians." Indictment of suspected terrorists contains little evidence of plot
"'We're as puzzled as everyone else,' said Howard Simon, the director of the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. 'There's no weapons, no explosives, but this major announcement.'" "The seven men are charged with conspiring to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and FBI buildings in five cities. Prosecutors said they swore allegiance to al-Qaida after meeting with a confidential government informant who was posing as a representative of the terrorist group." "Vice President Dick Cheney later hailed the arrests Friday afternoon at a fundraiser for an Illinois congressional candidate, calling the group a 'very real threat.'" A very real threat? Uhhh, yeah. Sure. No explosives. No weapons. No links to al-Qaida. Plus they were trying to find uniforms. Terrorist uniforms. Josh Marshall: "the FBI special agents working this case must have realized this was the stupidest group of would be terrorists they're likely to come upon." And as Josh notes, uniforms were the least of it: "A close family friend and a distance cousin of Stanley Grant Phanor described the leader of the group, Narseal Batiste, as a 'Moses-like figure' who would roam the streets in a cape or bathrobe, toting a crooked wooden cane and looking for young men to join his group." Oh and by the way? LeftCoaster observes that this insidious plot "was busted, not by listening to your phone calls, not by sifting through your bank records, no, not even by getting your library records, but by an informant."


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