Friday, June 29, 2007

Here's a Good Way to Fight Terrorism

Police work.

London was gripped by a terrorist threat on Friday when the police found two Mercedes sedans packed with gasoline, nails and gas canisters that had been parked near Piccadilly Circus in the bustling West End entertainment district.

The police defused both bombs, but had they exploded “there could have been significant injury or loss of life,” Peter Clarke, Britain’s senior counterterrorism police official, told reporters.

Hours later, Mr. Clarke told another news conference at New Scotland Yard that the second car, illegally parked in Cockspur Street a few hundred yards from the first in the Haymarket, had been rigged like the first, adding, “The vehicles are clearly linked.”

Security experts said that neither the bomb materials nor the cellphone triggering device was particularly sophisticated. Nor, said Sajjan M. Gohel, a counterterrorism expert with the Asia-Pacific Foundation, did the attack “seem to be very well planned.”

But the idea of a multiple attack using car bombs — a departure from the backpack suicide attacks of the London bombings of July 2005 — raised concerns among security experts that jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda may have imported tactics more familiar in Iraq.

That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, since we opened the gates of hell there when we invaded, thus creating a training ground for terrorists.

As usual, Dan Froomkin says it best.

Bush and Vice President Cheney's optimistic predictions about the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular have proved to be almost completely and consistently wrong for years now. ("Last throes," anyone?)

Before the 2006 election, White House political guru Karl Rove was supremely self-assured in his public predictions of Republican victory.

White House spokesman Tony Snow recently assured the press corps that Bush had enough votes in the Senate on the immigration bill. "I'll see you at the bill signing," Bush himself told a skeptical journalist on June 11.

Bush and his staff's credibility regarding statements of "fact" is a frequent subject of debate. But their track record on predictions is something else entirely. The evidence is pretty overwhelming that those predictions are unreliable.

I mention this because Bush's core argument against a troop drawdown in Iraq -- something supported by a large majority of Americans -- is basically a prediction. As he put it again yesterday: "If we withdraw before the Iraqi government can defend itself, we would yield the future of Iraq to terrorists like al Qaeda -- and we would give a green light to extremists all throughout a troubled region. The consequences for America and the Middle East would be disastrous."

And so it appears that the consequences are in fact disasterous even with the surge, which has now contributed to the three deadliest months for the troops since the war began.

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