Becky, Kristy and Vikki have stopped for the night in Terre Haute, Indiana — where, it seems, K and V are making friends at IHOP. Heh.
Anyway, thanks to the free Wi-Fi at their motel, I can share with you these pictures, which Becky sent me via e-mail, of 7-months-pregnant Shannon and her (rather large) baby bump!
Aww! So cute!
Those were taken last night in Buffalo. Here’s a pair taken this morning, also in Buffalo, of Vikki and Kristy loading up their Penske for the move to Denver:
Anyway, they’re travelling in three separate vehicles — Kristy’s car, Vikki’s car, and the Penske — which explains the relative dearth of cell-phone photo posts while on the road; notwithstanding Kristy’s efforts, blogging-while-driving is not generally recommended. :)
Making friends @ the terre haute ihop. too bad beckys asleep!
Time magazine unveils more details of the atrocity that a group of despicable, subhuman terrorist scumbags planned to carry out “within days” if they hadn’t been thwarted last night:
Senior U.S officials have confirmed to TIME details of the plot that led the secretary to ratchet up the color-coded security alert for British-U.S. flights to an unprecedented red for “Severe.” A total of 24 individuals were arrested in Britain overnight and, says one senior U.S. official who was briefed on the plot, five still remain at large. Their plan was to smuggle the peroxide-based liquid explosive TATP and detonators onto nine different planes from four carriers Ã¢â‚¬â€ British Airways, Continental, United and American Ã¢â‚¬â€ that fly direct routes between the U.K and the U.S. and blow them up mid-air. Intelligence officials estimate that about 2,700 people would have perished, according to the official.
Britain’s MI-5 intelligence service and Scotland Yard had been tracking the plot for several months, but only in the past two weeks had the plotters’ planning begun to crystallize, senior U.S. officials tell TIME. In the two or three days before the arrests, the cell was going operational, and authorities were pressed into action. MI5 and Scotland Yard agents tracked the plotters from the ground, while a knowledgeable American official says U.S. intelligence provided London authorities with intercepts of the group’s communications. Most of the suspects are second or third generation British citizens of Pakistani descent whose families hailed from war-torn Kashmir. U.S. officials believe the 29 members were divided into multiple cells and planned to break into small groups to board the nine planes.
During the past few months the plotters’ attack plans had changed, said Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security Michael Jackson. “There were different data sets about their interests over time that evolved,” he said. It was only in recent days, said Jackson, that the plans began to focus on British-U.S. flights. The plot was “very near execution” but not imminent, Jackson said. “We didn’t pull people off of airplanes.” …
Though the plot has all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda operation, U.S. officials cautioned that there isn’t yet evidence of a direct link between the plotters and the organization’s top leaders. “We’re not convinced this particular operation is connected to the al Qaeda chain of command,” Charles Allen, Chief of Intelligence for the Department of Homeland Security, told reporters on Thursday afternoon. As for whether the attack was being timed for the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, Allen said he thought the attack would simply be launched when it was ready. “I am a long standing believer that terrorist plotters or planners execute when they have all of the plot together,” said Allen. “We have no evidence this was timed to any particular holiday or special event.” …
With five members of the cell believed to be at large, the threat still looms and intelligence officials are still working to unravel the full extent of the plot. “I don’t believe we know all the dimensions of this plot. Time has to pass to determine that a network was disrupted,” said Allen. Worries another U.S. official: “Plan A has been stopped, but the concern: Is there a Plan B?”
There’s also this, from the Financial Times:
British security officials suspected the innovative use of liquid explosives smuggled on board could have evaded airport detection devices. They said the method of attack, if used to blow up an aircraft over the ocean on a flight from the US to the UK, could potentially have been used repeatedly because its detection would have been all but impossible after the event.
One official said: Ã¢â‚¬Å“We were very lucky to have acquired the intelligence about the modus operandi of the attacks. If we hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t got the intelligence, they probably would have succeeded and there would have been little or no forensic evidence showing how they had done it. The modus operandi could have made waves of attacks feasible.Ã¢â‚¬?
More here, in excerpts from the British papers, including some conflicting versions of the story:
The Guardian fills out details of the plot, starting with the fact that surveillance allegedly began almost a year ago Ã¢â‚¬Å“on a scale never before undertaken.Ã¢â‚¬? Quote:
When the jets were in midair over American cities, they planned to combine the explosives and detonate them using an electric charge from an iPod, the security services believe. [British Airways] flights were among the targets. US officials said the bombers had been seeking to hit New York, Washington, San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles. Other airlines targeted were thought to be United, American and Continental.
An attack on American cities? Not so fast. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not what the Independent is hearing:
The suicide bombers allegedly intended to carry out three Ã¢â‚¬Å“phasedÃ¢â‚¬? attacks on nine or 10 jets over a period of several months. The plan, it is understood, was to blow up the aircraft over the sea so that investigators would be unable to discover how the explosive - possibly a peroxide-based liquid explosive - was taken through the airport security without being detected.
I read another report about Ã¢â‚¬Å“phasedÃ¢â‚¬? attacks this morning, but the phases there were all supposed come on the same day, only an hour apart. [And I read one about “phased” attacks over the course of three days. The fog of war. -ed.] Imagine the terror if three airliners went down over the Atlantic Ã¢â‚¬â€ followed by three more airliners a few weeks later. Followed by three more airliners a few weeks later.
And, to tie together the two stories that have brought my blog so much attention and traffic over the last three days — the Lieberman-Lamont race and the U.K.-U.S. terrorist plot — these idiots are making me really glad I’m no longer a Democrat, as they react with the predictable “it’s a conspiracy” crap.
This is why my problem with the Left is so serious, so deep and abiding. It’s not just about Iraq. It’s about the whole war on terrorism. I sometimes find myself doubting that, but I shouldn’t. THESE PEOPLE DO NOT TAKE THE THREAT OF TERRORISM SERIOUSLY. They simply refuse to understand that we are at war. The notion of such people ever running the country is absolutely terrifying.
Look, I support a healthy skepticism (not to be confused with an unhealthy cynicism) toward the government. Not everything that the White House or Scotland Yard says should be automatically treated as gospel. But you should trust the government unless there is some reason not to. And objectively, there is absolutely nothing — nothing — about today’s developments that even remotely hints at conspiracy, fabrication or exaggeration. The lefties “question the timing,” as always, claiming that there are political circumstances which make today’s announcement oh-so-convenient. Oh, grow up! An argument can always be made that such circumstances exist. (And when your best argument is that the Brits concocted or exaggerated this plot to help Bush distract Americans from… Ned Lamont’s Connecticut Senate primary victory?!?… you may want to reconsider your conspiracy theory. I mean, good lord, are these people completely out of their freaking minds?!?)
Alleging that an ulterior motive could hypothetically exist is not enough. You need to allege facts, or at least poke some serious holes in the official story, if you’re going to claim that the government is lying about something this serious. And every single detail that has emerged strongly suggests that this was a very, very serious plot, and that officials have acted in precisely the manner that they should. There is nothing at all “suspicious” about waiting to reveal a plot until arrests have been made, and in turn, waiting to make arrests until law enforcement believes the moment is right. Indeed, that’s exactly how these investigations should be conducted. But the lefties — and these are mainstream liberal bloggers, not wingnut extremists culled from the depths of the Kos diaries — don’t care about that, because they view George W. Bush as a greater threat than the 29 terrorists who wanted to kill 2,700 innocent civilians for sport. When presented with two alternative explanations for a set of facts — either Bush & Blair and their entire governments are willfully deceiving and manipulating the public in an utterly reprehensible and indefensible manner, or a group of 29 jihadis really did plot to kill several thousand of us — they find the latter less plausible than the former. Un-freaking-believeable.
This has been a watershed week for me. First the Dems purge one of their most honorable, decent, principled members, in the process demonstrating to me that I no longer belong in their party. Then the liberal blogosphere shows its true colors by responding to manifestly the gravest mass terrorism threat since 9/11 with a mixture of juvenile temper tantrum and raving-lunatic conspiracy theory. The next time I hestitate to say that “many liberals don’t take the war on terrorism seriously” because I want to be P.C. and give ‘em the benefit of the doubt and avoid seeming to question anyone’s patriotism, I’ll look back on this day and remember how the Left reacted when the forces of civilization thwarted an attempt by the forces of evil, Islamonihilist terror to commit an unprecedented crime against humanity in the skies over the Atlantic Ocean.
Mickey Kaus ponders something that I too have pondered:
So if Lieberman wins as an independent, and the Democrats pick up six seats in November, doesn’t that mean Lieberman gets to decide which party controls the Senate? And if so, do the Democrats really want to take Kos’ advice and piss him off? Just asking!
Lieberman says he’s running as an “independent Democrat” and has pledged to organize with the Dems. I don’t believe he will change his tune on that — and he certainly wouldn’t do so for petty personal reasons, or in response to psuedo-bribes from the Republicans; Joe is better than that — but I would absolutely love to see Lieberman as the 51st member of a Democratic majority, because although he wouldn’t actually jump ship, just the threat that he might do so would make him a very powerful man in Washington. Not only that, but on individual votes, he certainly wouldn’t have any reason to be beholden to the Democratic leadership, and could frequently be a “decider,” as Dubya would say. And of course, last but not least, the whole thing would make Kos look dumb, which is always a positive in my book.
In other Joe-related news… as Dane mentioned earlier, the New York Times’s David Brooks published a provocative — and, alas, subscription-only — column today in which he argued that there is a subsurface “McCain-Lieberman Party” lurking beneath the bipolar, red-blue veneer of American politics, just waiting for its opportunity to cast off the surly bonds of partisanship and touch the face of Joementum… or something like that.
Apparently Brooks has been reading my blog, considering I’ve been talking about “McCain-Lieberman” incessantly since Tuesday. (E.g., here, here, here, here and here.) Or, uh, maybe he and I, and about a gazillion other people, all had the same freakin’ obvious idea at the same time. (Again I quote Casey: “Man, at this point the Lieberman-McCain ticket is like those two friends from school who have been eyeing each other all year and just seriously need to knock boots. Do it for America, John and Joe. Make some fruity purple babies and fix the freaking country already.” Heh.)
But unlike Casey and me, Brooks isn’t talking about McCain-Lieberman ticket, per se. Rather, he’s holding up John and Joe more as symbolic representatives of an idea whose time has come. And, contra Andrew, he think it’s an idea that just might work. But just what is the idea? Here’s an excerpt:
The McCain-Lieberman Party begins with a rejection of the Sunni-Shiite style of politics itself. It rejects those whose emotional attachment to their party is so all-consuming it becomes a form of tribalism, and who believe the only way to get American voters to respond is through aggression and stridency.
The flamers in the established parties tell themselves that their enemies are so vicious they have to be vicious too. They rationalize their behavior by insisting that circumstances have forced them to shelve their integrity for the good of the country. They imagine that once they have achieved victory through pulverizing rhetoric they will return to the moderate and nuanced sensibilities they think they still possess.
But the experience of DeLay and the net-root DeLays in the Democratic Party amply demonstrates that means determine ends. Hyper-partisans may have started with subtle beliefs, but their beliefs led them to partisanship and their partisanship led to malice and malice made them extremist, and pretty soon they were no longer the same people.
The McCain-Lieberman Party counters with constant reminders that country comes before party, that in politics a little passion energizes but unmarshaled passion corrupts, and that more people want to vote for civility than for venom.
On policy grounds, too, the McCain-Lieberman Party is distinct. On foreign policy, it agrees with Tony Blair (who could not win a Democratic primary in the U.S. today): The civilized world faces an arc of Islamic extremism that was not caused by American overreaction, and that will only get stronger if America withdraws.
On fiscal policy, the McCain-Lieberman Party sees a Republican Party that will not raise taxes and a Democratic Party that will not cut benefits, and understands that to avoid bankruptcy the country must do both.
On globalization, the McCain-Lieberman Party believes that free trade reduces poverty but that government must invest in human capital so people can compete. It believes in comprehensive immigration reform.
The McCain-Lieberman Party sees Democrats in the grip of teachers’ unions and Republicans who let corporations write environmental rules. It sees two parties that depend on the culture war for internal cohesion and that make abortion a litmus test.
Hey, I could join that party! Read the whole thing, if you can. (Hint, for those of you with free Lexis-Nexis accounts… it’s on there.)
If this is true, it’s both scary and reassuring.
Scary because they almost hit us again. Reassuring because we (apparently) stopped them.
Excerpt from the AP article:
The plot had been in the works for months, and its goal was horrific. One after another, planes would have exploded in the sky, sending hundreds of men, women and children to their deaths.
Counterterrorism officials said Thursday the plan thwarted in London appears to bear the fingerprints of al-Qaida, and may even have been “the Big One” they have been dreading since Sept. 11, 2001…
“In terms of scale, it was probably designed to be … a new Sept. 11,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, a French private investigator who works with lawyers of many Sept. 11 victims. …
There have been dozens of thwarted plots around the world since the Sept. 11 attacks, and several were murderously successful. Suicide bombers killed 52 people in London on July 7, 2005, 58 in two attacks in Istanbul, Turkey in 2003, and 202 in Bali in 2002. Islamic radicals killed 191 people in Madrid on March 11, 2004, then blew themselves up days later as police closed in.
While al-Qaida’s call for global jihad clearly acted as inspiration, there has been no direct evidence that bin Laden or his No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, had advance knowledge of those attacks, that they helped plan them, or that they provided financial or logistical help to those who carried them out.
The group’s failure to match the destruction it inflicted on Sept. 11 has led to speculation that a global dragnet that has forced bin Laden into hiding and ensnared many of his most trusted deputies may have degraded al-Qaida’s abilities.
Analysts said Thursday that is a theory to be believed only at the world’s peril.
The plan thwarted by the British had the potential to dwarf the attacks of recent years - killing hundreds, perhaps thousands.
Thousands? Yes… thousands. Donald Sensing writes that if there were, as some reports state, as many as ten targeted planes, all Boeing 747s…
…the death toll might have exceeded that of al QaedaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Ten Boeing 747 airliners easily carry far more than the 3,000 people who died in New York, Arlington and Pennsylvania.
Back to the AP article:
Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at Sweden’s Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies who has done extensive research on al-Qaida’s recruiting efforts in Europe, said the foiled plot in Britain “could very well have been an attempt at ‘the Big One.’”
He warned against doubting the gravity of the threat.
“This was really serious. Police have no reason to play politics. I think one should take what they say very seriously,” he said.
Andrea Nativi, a researcher at the Rome-based Military Center for Strategic Studies, said the plot resembled the Sept. 11 attacks in ambition and was entirely different in scope from other terror schemes of recent years.
“By comparison, the London subway attacks look like child’s play,” he said.
The BBC has more:
According to BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera, the authorities believe the target of the plot included US as well as UK airlines flying to all parts of the US and it seemed to have involved a number of waves of simultaneous attacks.
It is thought there could have been three waves of attacks on different days, targeting three planes each time.
Security experts believe there were plans to detonate liquid explosives on up to 10 planes.
Officials say the explosives could have been sophisticated and extremely effective. It is possible they could have been carried in fizzy drink bottles or cans.
The plot was expected to be carried out soon.
“Soon,” eh? Does anyone else wonder if the planned date for the attack was August 22?
P.S. More on the timetable:
The terrorist attack foiled by British authorities on Thursday was aimed at blowing up as many as 10 airplanes on trans-Atlantic flights, and plotters hoped to stage a dry run within two days, according to U.S. intelligence officials.
The actual attack would have followed within days.
August 22, the date Iran’s president has been dropping hints about, is arguably “within days” — it’s just 12 days away.
What did Ahmadinejad know, and when did he know it?
UPDATE: According to Time, “We have no evidence this was timed to any particular holiday or special event.” Also, “WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not convinced this particular operation is connected to the al Qaeda chain of command.” See new post here.
U.S. and France agree the main points of a resolution to end fighting between Israel and Hezbollah — including on the sequencing of deployment of the U.N. force, diplomatic sources say. Visit CNN for the latest.
Unfortunately The NYT is annoying with their NYT select thing but here is the link anyway. If you get the paper version, or can abscond with it from a co-workers desk, it is David Brooks Party no.3. Brooks is one of those people that I rarely agree with, but almost always find what he has to say interesting. Today I mostly agree with what he has to say about politics in America. He has struck a cord with present political reality. I also found it interesting. I don’t necessarily agree with all the proper noun choices he made. But the idea, and that’s the thing really, is remarkably astute and important. I do plan to write more on this topic later; but I shall leave at this for now.
Holy crap this is a big truck!!
P.S. by Brendan: Again bringing my new readers up to speed… my wife Becky is helping her friends Kristy and Vikki move to Denver, and they are liveblogging the road trip. Yesterday, B & K drove from Manchester, NH to Buffalo, NY to pick up V. Today, they hit the road for Colorado. More details here. You can view all of their posts here.
Some of the flights involved in the plot to blow up trans-Atlantic planes in mid-air would have been going from the United Kingdom to New York, Washington, D.C., and California, a U.S. government official said. Visit CNN for the latest.
A senior U.S. administration official tells CNN that intelligence on the foiled airline terror plot indicates “very strong links to al Qaeda.” Visit CNN for the latest.
The U.S. has raised its threat warning to the highest level for commercial flights from Britain to the United States in response to a terror plot disrupted in London. According to The Associated Press, the terrorists had targeted United, American and Continental airlines, two U.S. counterterrorism officials said. Visit CNN for the latest.
A plot to blow up aircraft flying from the UK was “intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale,” a police spokesman says. Visit CNN for the latest.
• British authorities say they have disrupted a massive, imminent midair terror plot involving suicide bombers carrying liquid explosives in their carry-on baggage on U.K.-to-U.S. commercial flights. “Put simply, this was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale,” says Scotland Yard.
• According to Sky News, the plot involved six planes. Earlier reports had said “as many as 20 planes” were involved. Scotland Yard would not confirm the number of planes. The planes were to be blown up en route to America (or possibly “over UK and US cities,” according to one early report).
• Fox News reports that a knowledgeable U.S. official says this plot had a “serious Al Qaeda connection.”
• Police know of specific flights on which the terrorists were booked, according to Sky. “They were not yet sitting on an airplane, but they were very close to travelling,” says a U.S. intelligence official, according to Fox.
• 21 would-be terrorists were arrested overnight in London. At least 2 others are still at-large, possibly “many others,” according to Fox. “We believe that these arrests have significantly disrupted the threat, but we cannot be sure that the threat has been entirely eliminated or the plot completely thwarted,” says Michael Chertoff. (Here is the full Homeland Security statement.) The arrested individuals are British-born young male Muslims, possibly of Pakistani origin, according to Sky.
• The U.K. is at its highest terror alert level, indicating an “imminent” threat. The U.S. terror threat level has been raised to red for flights from Britain to the United States, and to orange for all U.S. domestic, U.S.-bound international, and U.S.-to-U.K. flights. It is the first time the U.S. terror level has ever reached “red” for any part of the country.
• Because the plot involved “liquid chemical devices” to be smuggled on board via carry-on bags, incredibly strict new security measures have been instituted in Britain. Virtually no carry-on baggage is being allowed on board flights in Britain. Electronic devices, e.g. iPods, are reportedly banned and must be checked as luggage. What few items are allowed, reportedly must be carried in transparent bags. Because of the unprecedented security measures, there are extremely long lines and massive, crippling delays at British airports. All in-bound flights to Heathrow have been cancelled if they are not currently in the air. Many airlines and airports elsewhere are cancelling all flights to the U.K., and British passengers are asked not to come to the airport “unless absolutely necessary.” Heathrow is a madhouse.
• Some of the new security measures are being instituted in the U.S. as well. Virtually all liquids are being banned from all planes. The only exception is for baby formula, and it is allowed only if the parent drinks some of it him/herself, in front of a security agent, to prove that it’s not a liquid explosive (!!). According to the TSA:
NO LIQUIDS OR GELS OF ANY KIND WILL BE PERMITTED IN CARRY ON BAGGAGE. ITEMS MUST BE IN CHECKED BAGGAGE. This includes all beverages, shampoo, sun tan lotion, creams, tooth paste, hair gel, and other items of similar consistency.
Exception: Baby formula and medicines must be presented for inspection at the checkpoint.
Beverages purchased in the boarding area (beyond the checkpoint) must be consumed before boarding because they will not be permitted on board the aircraft.
• Prediction: this will have long-term ramifications for airline passengers, much like the “shoe bomber” case did. Obviously the strictest of these emergency measures cannot remain in place indefinitely, but security measures for carry-on baggage will be more stringent for the foreseeable future. (The publicly-drinking-baby-formula thing, however, will not last.)
NOTE: This post was originally published at 10:22 PM; it was bumped to top of homepage at 12:17 AM. The original post, and sequential updates, are after the jump.
Which, when it happens on November 7 (as it Will ~ mark my words), will be a victory for Connecticut, for Lieberman, and most importantly, for America.
Stripped of the Democratic party’s support, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman began his independent campaign for re-election Wednesday after his 18-year Washington career was derailed by a primary loss to an anti-war candidate.
…On Wednesday, he filed petitions to run in November as an independent and dismissed his campaign staff, saying he hadn’t been aggressive enough in countering Lamont during the primary.
“The bottom line is that I’m definitely in,” Lieberman told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “While I consider myself a devoted Democrat, I am even more devoted to my state and my country.”
…Lieberman’s loss sets up a three-way race this fall among Lamont, Lieberman and Republican Alan Schlesinger, who has trailed far behind both Democrats in recent polls.
The final returns from Tuesday’s primary showed Lamont defeating Lieberman 52 percent to 48 percent.
Kenneth Dautrich, a public policy professor at the University of Connecticut, said Wednesday that Lieberman’s name recognition and moderate stances will draw strong support from independent and Republican voters in November.
Lamont’s views that appeal to liberal Democrats will likely turn away many unaffiliated and Republican voters, Dautrich said.
“For a variety of reasons, I think Lieberman is now in the driver’s seat,” Dautrich said. “We probably would expect to see Lieberman with a fairly handy lead as the election campaign begins.”
The biggest challenge, Dautrich said, will likely be fundraising. Lamont, a multimillionaire who put $4 million of his own money into the primary, will also get donations from traditional Democratic sources.
“The one handicap is he doesn’t have the deep pockets that Lamont has,” Dautrich said. “Lamont can put his hand in his pocket and come out with a few million bucks, and Lieberman can’t do that.”
No he can’t, personally. But, in the end, this will Not be a problem.
Western Connecticut State University political science professor Christopher Kukk predicted that some religious or moderately conservative groups will contribute to Lieberman’s campaign.
“I think money will somehow find its way toward Lieberman’s campaign,” Kukk said. “I think you’ll find more independent organizations step up, or those a little more on the conservative side.”
A Quinnipiac University poll released in July showed that 51 percent of likely voters would support Lieberman in a three-way race. That’s compared with 27 percent for Lamont and 9 percent for Schlesinger, an attorney who was formerly a lawmaker and mayor.
Though having both Lieberman and Lamont on the ballot could split the Democratic vote, Schlesinger is not considered a major threat. His campaign stumbled in July after revelations that he used a fake name to gamble at a Connecticut casino and had been sued over gambling debts at two New Jersey casinos.
Republican Gov. M Jodi Rell urged him to drop out of the Senate race, but Schlesinger called the gambling a “non-issue” and vowed to remain in the race.
But Dautrich and Kukk both said Rell’s clear lack of support and enthusiasm for Schlesinger could be seen by many Republicans as a free pass to support Lieberman without feeling they are betraying their party.
“With a weak Republican in the race, it’ll be Lieberman who fills that void,” Dautrich said.
…He said Wednesday that he does not blame his now-dismissed campaign staff members for Tuesday’s loss, but that he wants “some different people” - including a new media consultant and new polling firm - as he launches his independent run.
“It’s a new chapter of the campaign and therefore I’m going to put together a new team to help me run the campaign, to support me in the campaign,” he said.
All signatures on Lieberman’s petitions turned in Wednesday must be validated by the town clerks in the towns where they were submitted…
Read the rest. / The only Big question now is, will Joe win the 3-way on Nov. 7 with an upper-40s-percentile Plurality ~ similar to the 48-plus-percent he achieved in the 2-way Dem primary ~ or, will he Romp with an Absolute Majority over Alan & Neddy combined?
Either way, Connecticutians for Lieberman, and for America, will gladly Take it.