Thursday, August 10, 2006

Terror Level Red

Late last night, I saw the first wire reports of the arrests in Great Britain. I assumed that like the arrests earlier this summer, these were preemptive in nature and wouldn't really affect our daily life. Now I wake up and see just how close the terrorists had gotten.

And I have to get on a plane this afternoon. Great. It shouldn't affect me flying out of Midway for a 90-minute flight, but still something I'd rather not be doing today.

The terror alert is red, the first time that's happened.

It's 7:00 am CDT right now. I'm timing how long it takes before I find a lefty say this is all a ruse to distract us from whatever truth George Bush is frightened we'll uncover. Actually, you could have a betting pool. First, how long it takes me before I find the comment, and second, what all this is supposed to distract us from: Lebanon, Iraq, gas prices, Iran, Lieberman's loss, etc, etc, ad inf.

UPDATE 8:03 am CDT: At a press conference, DHS chief Michael Chertoff said that the alert level was red on flights to and from Britain, orange everywhere else. He raised the alert level for flights to Britain to harmonize our alert level with theirs. He also said that air marshals would be on flights to Great Britain. Some knucklehead reporter asked if there would be marshals on flights to other foreign cities, and Chertoff gave the most awesome answer he could: "We have marshals everywhere."

Still haven't found my lefty, but since I was driving to work I haven't had much chance to look.

UPDATE 8:17 am CDT: I know he has a lot on his plate right now, but I found this (from the Washington Post story linked above) very disturbing:

London's Deputy Police Commissioner, Paul Stephenson, said 21 people had been arrested in London and in Birmingham, England, after a months-long investigation into what he said was a plan for "mass murder on an unimaginable scale."

So, fine, he's trying to make us understand the seriousness of the threat. But, 9/11! Not hard to imagine destruction on this scale, seeing how it actually happened! Not to mention the 7/7 train bombings, and the Lockerbie bombing, and about a dozen others that Muslim terrorists have carried out the last few years.

Most disturbing is that the numbers of people involved in the plot seem to fluctuate, and no matter how many they suspect, the number arrested, 21 at last check, is always less than the number that had been sought. I worry that the police might declare victory and tell us that the number caught was and always had been the number they suspected were involved, and by the way, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

To protect against attacks, you can't have carry-on luggage in Britain right now, and among the items you can have on board, no electronics are listed. They can have my laptop when the pry it from my cold dead hands, and also whenever a TSA official asks for it.

Also, there are tight restrictions on passengers having liquids on board, as liquid explosives were to be the medium of terror on the threatened flights.

Michelle Malkin has extensive coverage, and notes the word missing from most of the coverage, a word that might suggest we're in a war, or something, and that would be just a nutty thing to think.

The restriction on liquids has already been extended to the U.S., and I swore I saw a suggestion that the ban on electronics would be extended to the U.S. as well, but I've lost track of that link. I'll update or correct as soon as I find that reference. NOTE: I couldn't find the reference I at least I thought I saw, so the suggestion is best disregarded.

UPDATE 8:37 am CDT: And we have a winner! 1 hour and 37 minutes after I posted that I wondered how long it would take before a lefty dismissed all this as a phony distraction, AmericaBlog comes through. And when I included Lieberman's loss in the list of possible reasons cited for the distraction, I didn't really believe a lefty would be that narcissistic. Don't I have egg on my face:
And isn't it queer that the emergency is declared within a day of Republican party leader Ken Mehlman launching an all-out offensive against Democrats following Joe Lieberman's loss in Connecticut, an offensive in which Mehlman, the White House and Republican operatives are claiming that Democrats no longer care about national security or the war on terror.

And just at that moment we get our FIRST ever red alert. Beam me up, Scotty.

The post is actually timestamped at 7:23 by a "John in DC", so assuming that handle means the timestamp is East coast time, it actually predates my post.

The link was at the end of Michelle Malkin's post, and it was to Mary Katherine Ham at Townhall.

I can't believe I have to get on a plane today.

UPDATE 9:25 am CDT: Donklephant has two good questions for extreme civil libertarians. Similarly, Ace Of Spades recalls the controversy a few days ago about a flight turned back to Great Britain, and has questions of his own.

I had written previously about the symmetry of the dates used in Muslim terror attacks, and wondered if the plans intended for the attack to happen tomorrow, 8/11. SeeDubya at JunkyardBlog had similar notions.

The delays at U.S. airports are getting nasty.

UPDATE 10:03 am CDT: James Joyner, at the end of the post, notes that FOXNews reported Pakistani intelligence had a role in foiling the plot. I think that could possibly be a big story, since Pakistani intelligence has a reputation of being less than trustworthy at helping Western countries protect their citizens from terrorists. No link at Outside The Beltway, and I couldn't find a link at If it's true, it will get reported somewhere eventually.

An American girl, stuck for the time being at Heathrow, has trouble with basic principles of causation:
Kendra Webb, an 18-year-old student from San Francisco, cried as she spoke on the phone to relatives back home.

"This is hell," she said. "I hate this airport. I just want a cigarette right now."

Yes, Kendra, all the chaos is the airport's fault.

UPDATE 10:46 am CDT: A few things from Pajamas Media. First, an explanation of how a liquid bomb would work. Second, this piece of news:
Attempts to hijack a Qatar Airways plane have been foiled, according to the Al Jazeera TV network.

A man carrying a cannister of liquid reportedly tried to force his way into the cockpit.

Probably unrelated, but you never know. NOTE: Now confirmed as not terror related.

Finally, and not surprisingly, Walid Phares at the Counterterrorism blog has some thoughts on Operation Bojinka, mentioned several other places -- SEIXON, Michelle Malkin, Captain's Quarters -- as well as quick, initial questions about the event. Included in the latter is this, among many others: "Is there a 'Jihadi factory' in the UK which is targeting domestic and Transatlantic transportation; a factory that produces suicide bombers heading towards the Middle East, London subways and passengers flights towards the US?"

The President will make an announcement on the London plots in a few minutes.

UPDATE 12:06 pm CDT: The scene in Chicago doesn't sound too atrocious. The security lines are very long, and some weather has caused delays. Obviously, it's worse at O'Hare than at Midway. Overall, Chicagoans are taking it better than our girl in London, but then we aren't the locus of the threat:
Jerome Hoynes, a high school teacher from Winnetka, emptied the contents of his zip-up toiletry kit into the bin. Out went his hair products, shaving cream, cologne and toothpaste. He paused briefly before tossing a bottle of expensive cologne, and dabbed a bit on himself.

"That was the good stuff, too," he said sadly. "But in the sense of security, it's better to be safe than smell nice."


Rachael Neal, 26, of Lincoln Park, looked despondent after losing her treasured $11 lip balm. "If it's necessary, well then I have to do it."

What's in that lip balm? Champagne?

President Bush said nothing unexpected at his impromptu speech upon arriving in Green Bay. Neither have his critics.

UPDATE 12:56 pm CDT: AJ Strata, also flying today, says something I can't agree with more: "We need to fight this war to its end and stop enticing attacks by showing any hint of hesitancy."

He also noticed an intriguing statement from Rep. Peter Hoekstra that adds to doubts we all ought to have about extreme civil libertarians.

UPDATE 1:20 pm CDT: About to head down to the airport. Midway's far from where I am, so I never like flying out of there. Today, though, I don't think I'll complain. It's much smaller than O'Hare, so the security delays will be a lot less problematic, and should the plot be larger than we know so far, it's much less likely to be a terror target.

I'd be remiss not to mention the Dearborn jihadis discussed so much today, and who are especially well documented by Debbie Schlussel. I have no clue whether the pair are in any way related to the London plots, and just pray that the courts will see through the complaints of prejudice that are already being heard.

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