Category Archives: War Commentary

More On L’Affaire JIR

In response to my latest rant on the possibilities that the terrorists are either unimaginably moronic, or that they want us to think that they are, and that both possibilities seem incredible, an anonymous reader offers an alternative explanation, to wit:

You know, maybe they aren’t that stupid. What if they were browsing the web some day and came across it. “Hey Abdul, you need to read this, it’s so funny!”

Then it got left behind. And we thought they were serious. Just wait until the archeologists of the future start talking about the significant news outlets of our time. “Most people got their weekly news from The Onion, America’s most respected source, while other chose the New York Times or the satire and comedy paper, The Wall Street Journal.”

Well, it is a third alternative, but given all the available evidence on offer, this seems to be a particularly humorless crowd, so to the degree that it is a viable explanation, it seems as astronomically improbable as the others. I’ve still gotta go with the theory that they really are major-league, world-class, galactic-championship-grade imbeciles…

Nukes for Dummies

I’m still trying to verify this, but if the Daily Rotten is correct, the “nuclear weapon plans” found in the Al Qaeda safe house are actually a download of an ancient (gag) article from the Journal of Irreproducible Results. Given their idiocy in so many other realms, why would this not surprise me? And why would it also not surprise me that few journalists would know the difference?

Anyway, if it can be verified, perhaps we can all sleep a little better tonight.

[Update at 7 AM]

It’s twue, it’s twue! This is delicious.

Just google the words, “the de-vice basically works,” and you’ll get a plethora of links to this document (this one, from Barking Spider, is just an example–it can be found at a number of sites) titled “How To Build An Atomic Bomb.” Look carefully at the pictures of the terrorist document from the BBC at the Daily Rotten page (or go directly to the source, if you don’t trust them) and compare.

It’s worth pointing out that this article was part of a series. The previous ones were:

  • Let’s Make Test Tube Babies! May, 1979
  • Let’s Make a Solar System! June, 1979
  • Let’s Make an Economic Recession! July, 1979
  • Let’s Make an Anti-Gravity Machine! August, 1979
  • Let’s Make Contact with an Alien Race! September, 1979

The next one was a primer on how to clone your neighbor’s wife in a single weekend, using common kitchen utensils.

This may provide a hint about some of Al Qaeda’s nefarious plans for our future.

[Further Update: 5:40 PM PST]

In actually reading the satirical document in question, this paragraph jumped out at me (and remember this was over twenty years ago).

Worldwide controversy has been generated recently from several court decisions in the United States which have restricted popular magazines from printing articles which describe how to make an atomic bomb. The reason usually given by the courts is that national security would be compromised if such information were generally available. But, since it is commonly known that all of the information is publicly available in most major metropolitan libraries, obviously the court’s officially stated position is covering up a more important factor; namely, that such atomic de-vices would prove too difficult for the average citizen to construct. The United States courts cannot afford to insult the vast majorities by insinuating that they do not have the intelligence of a cabbage, and thus the “official” press releases claim national security as a blanket restriction.

This seemed particularly ironic to me under the circumstances. Of course, to not even be able to recognize the difference between an actual nuclear bomb manual, and an obvious send up of same, implies that one has a level of intelligence that would make a cabbage look like, well, Stephen Hawking–it would imply something more on the order of a lobotomized fern.

So can they really be this stupid, or is this some kind of reverse mindfuck on us to make us believe that they’re really, really stupid? That all of this apparent idiocy–the mindless threats, counting on a population that they’ve been repressing to support them once they’re out of power, expecting Muslims worldwide to come to their aid when they’re getting their asses blown up, attacking the American Media by literally sending an anthrax-laced envelope to “American Media,” asking for flying lessons that don’t involve takeoffs or landings, stealing joke plans for bombs from scientific satire magazines–is actually a fiendishly clever ploy, and once we’ve destroyed their power structure, killed most of them, chased the rest up into their caves, blown up the caves, and starved out the rest, and let our guard down, that’s when they’re going to hit us with something really big?

I have to confess, that I find both explanations so improbable that I no longer know what to think–the notion that they are really that bereft of mental capacity almost defies biology and the nature of the human genome, but the other explanation absolutely beggars logic. Anyway, I find the former more comforting…

Fear of Queuing

I’ve ranted on the subject of fear of flying vs avoidance of lousy airline service before, but Mark Steyn has written, I think, the last word on the subject. I am in awe.

He has also coined a great new word. I like Islamofascists, but Islamakazi is very evocative to describe the suicidal fanatics who carry out their will.

[Update] I should clarify the above, lest it be misinterpreted. I like the word “Islamofascists.” I find actual instances of them despicable.

A New Afghan Concept–Death-Free Soccer

According to this story from Reuters, via, Kabul residents are enjoying watching and playing soccer in their stadium without having the games interrupted by executions (often the family of the victim was forced to carry them out). They also get to play in shorts, and to actually applaud (you know, clap your hands together) the rare (it is soccer, after all) score, instead of chanting “Allahu Akbar!”

O tempora, o mores! Sounds like anarchy. Just give them a few millennia–they’ll be begging for the Taliban to come back.

Girls (and Boys) Just Wanna Have Freedom

Apparently, if we’re to go by the reaction in Kabul, while, as the old song goes, “girls just wanna have fun,” what they really want is freedom. So do boys.

Opinion Journal’s Claudia Rossett has a good follow up to Michael Ledeen’s piece yesterday on the US as fomenter of revolution. We are also (often, unfortunately, with inadequate justification as of late) still a symbol of liberty worldwide, as becomes clear whenever and whereever the boot of oppression is lifted from silent throats, and people can speak their minds and hearts.

As we wonder what lies ahead most prominently in Iraq, but also across the rest of the Islamic world, what we must keep in mind is this universal human cry. America is a land that stands for liberty, and in this we have allies–however silent they may now be–among repressed people everywhere. We can debate how best to get our message out. In waging war we need not only faith in our own values, but strategy on the ground. But in understanding what lies locked up in the tyrannies of the world, it will be important to remember the shouts in Kabul this week: “America, America!”

The images from liberated Afghanistan shows that America is much more than a place–it is still an idea–one of the most powerful ideas ever conceived–that calls to people all over the planet. I hope that we can continue to live up to the reputation, perhaps even better than we have in the past, at least the recent past. For much of the world (particularly the Muslim world), the status quo is not liberty. It’s past time for the folks at Foggy Bottom to end their mindless worship of stability, and once again orient our policy in support of the values on which this country was founded.

More Darwin Awards

Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Hofer are having trouble dredging up any sympathy for these fools. Me too.

Normally, the Darwin Award is an individual achievement, honoring that person who has eliminated him or herself from the gene pool in the stupidest possible way. I think that this year, it should be a special group award, and perhaps even retired. No one is going to ever top this bunch. Or at least, if someone does, I want to be warned if ever they come within a couple hundred miles of me.

And yes, allow them to be martyrs if they are too stupid to surrender (they must be getting down to the dregs in the virgin supply along about now), but allow a few to return to Pakistan, Arabia, Egypt, and New York to spread the word about what happens to those who throw in their lot with murdering fundamentalist monsters.

Curiouser and Curiouser

My theory that this was sabotage was complicated (but not necessarily invalidated) by the most recent findings.

According to the story in the New York Times,

The tail was torn off, leaving the attachment points, which are made of the same composite, still bolted to the plane’s metal frame, investigators said. They have not found any evidence that an explosion or contact with another object in flight caused the damage.

So much for the loose fastener theory…

Looking More Like Sabotage To Me

Well, let’s see now–the data is accumulating. Both engines are intact (no internal failure), so that eliminates the bird ingestion theory. The aircraft lost both engines and the vertical stabilizer. The latter was reportedly taken off as cleanly as if someone had simply…loosened the fasteners. And the investigators say “they cannot rule out sabotage.”

Well, from what I understand about the situation now, being a glass-half-full-of-sabotage kind of guy, I’d put it differently–we cannot rule out random mechanical failure, but it’s starting to look very unlikely. The chances of a single engine falling off are very low. The chances of both engines just falling off are very low squared. The chances of both engines falling off, and the vertical stabilizer cleanly falling off are infinitesimal, absent active (sub)human intervention.

And the reporting on this is atrocious (as though that would distinguish it from any other subject). I’ve read things like “no intruders’ voices were heard on the cockpit voice recorder, ruling out sabotage.” As though it’s necessary, or even desirable, to be on an airplane that you’re sabotaging. Do these people even know what the word sabotage means?

OK, let’s forget about nail clippers and cleaning crew for the moment. How tight is the security in the maintenance hangars? What kind of background checks do the mechanics get? Have they checked the maintenance records for the plane, and checked to see who worked on it most recently, and who had access to it? It could have been done the night before, by simply loosening a few bolts on the pylons and empennage. Or it could have been done weeks before, planting shaped charges with a radio-controlled detonator, to blow off the engines and tail right after takeoff, almost ensuring a crash in…Queens. I hope that American (and the other airlines) have done an inspection of their entire fleet before flying them again.

At this point, if it turns out to not be sabotage, I’ll be very interested to hear the NTSB explanation for this one. It may be almost as entertaining (and sad) as the video that they cobbled together for TWA 800 to explain how flames falling from an aircraft could somehow magically appear to be a fire trail heading up toward it, to hundreds of eyewitnesses.