About Those Alleged Terrorists
When you have a gang of disconnected, apparently inept stragglers who make international news because of a federal War on Terror bust, it's the duty of the press to look upon it with a critical and discerning eye. To investigate it to its core and reveal all of its intricacies and, should they exist, its follies as well.
The Miami Herald has led the coverage of Narseal Batiste and his band of brothers and some of it has been stellar, like this story by-lined by Larry Lebowitz, Leslie Clark, and Martin Merzer. At the same time, they've questioned whether it's a bona fide case with this story by Scott Hiaasen and Fred Grimm's column today. If you want to see the case laughed out of existence, figuratively speaking, watch a rerun of The Daily Show.
But, for the first time in my life perhaps, I'm going to agree with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. If you have a group of people, no matter what their abilities and means, who are talking about joining al Qaeda and killing people by blowing things up, you nab them. It's that simple. Think about it. Timothy McVeigh was another seeming bum who blew up a federal building and murdered 168 people with a truckload of damn fertilizer. Hell, this country's history is littered with losers who have done incredible damage with little more than a dream of destruction (Sirhan Sirhan, Eric Robert Rudolph, Charles Whitman, etc etc etc).
The real problem with the arrest was that it was overhyped. And that was done by the media, namely the cable news broadcasts. The Bush Administration is also to blame since they obviously planned to make a major splash with this minor league bust.
But even if it wasn't a primetime operation, it's hard to argue that these guys shouldn't have been investigated and ultimately put on trial.
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