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Nothing ever happens in Portland
John Shepard (radiographite@gmail.com) - Sat Dec 4, 2010 18:35:48 GMT - 1134
''Somebody tried to blow up my friends. ''
By now I'm sure you know the news. It's everywhere. Crazy guy almost blows up Pioneer Square in Portland. Except that the bomb wasn't real and "public wasn't in any danger" etc.

Was I there? No. Friends of mine were.

No, I just need to say this and have it up that I've said this: this guy was not a terrorist mastermind. This was some messed-up, punk ass kid who's mad at his parents for moving away from Somalia and taking him to a town he doesn't like. Yeah, he tried to kill a thousand people, but what he was really trying to do was piss off his parents.

He's an asshole.

I'm not entirely comforted by the notion that we're protected by FBI guys selling fake bombs to terrorists. Next time the bad guy knows to buy TWO bombs from different buyers.

Just kinda a dumb idea, I know, but if the FBI is having conversations with some douchebag who has half a mind to blow shit up, why not brainwash them NOT to blow shit up?

We know why of course: because then you can't arrest him and prove you're accomplishing something.

I'm not entirely convinced the crime would have taken place had the FBI not sold him the stuff. There's a theory going round that if the FBI hadn't kept trying to keep the sale going, he might have eventually given up on the idea.

What I understand is a) the FBI claims they gave him a bunch of chances to back out, and b) the recording devices mysteriously malfunctioned in the earlier conversations. So what we know, or what we believe, and what's admissible in court, you know the drill. I'm sorta hoping this helps solidify how these sting operations are conducted in future... but it's probably just as likely to drive this kind of action deeper underground where it's harder to be between the douchebags and their bombs.

This is the true face of terrorism, though: disillusioned young guys with impulse control problems. Their lives suck for whatever reason and they're convinced it's America's fault.

Allowing for a moment that in some cases it is. People's lives were ruined by our meddling in Middle Eastern politics all those years. People's lives are ruined daily in Gaza and we're helping them do it. But as an overgeneralization, if your life is going well enough TO move to the United States, then the United States isn't your problem; rather Somalia is usually the problem and America is at least partly the solution. This punk-ass kid? Mad because his parents moved to Corvallis. Mad because they cancelled a vacation to scenic Pakistan, making me think he's got a pen pal there. Made it sound like there's religious motivation behind his Jihadist rage but really he's just a dumb 19-year-old who likes to get drunk, fuck girls, and go on about how awful America is that it lets kids get drunk and fuck girls.

(I can't let his parents off the hook entirely. He's been screaming Jihad since he was fifteen and his parents never really got around to saying "you know, something may be wrong here". Not saying it's the right way to be a parent to sit and snoop and spy on your kids all day long, but once you do notice the equivalent of duffel bags full of guns in the basement, you might wanna do something about it. As another overgeneralization, "phases" that kids "grow out of" generally don't go on year after year.)

I don't deny that the FBI did us all a favor. My concern is, this might be the only time it works.

Usually what prevents terrorism is simply the fact that angry people generally suck at planning complex things. It's called "disorganized thinking" and has little to do with how they keep their sock drawer - it's literally that some people are simply so crazy that they can't actually connect the dots to get from where they are to the practicality of the sadistic schemes they want to implement. They wanna burn down a building because they're so goddamn mad. Today they forget to bring the gasoline can. Tomorrow they forget to bring a lighter. Day after that, they go to the wrong building. Most of the time if they succeed, it's by luck alone. Terrorists have to be less crazy in order to deliver. Such terrorists do exist. But I wonder how many there really are, how big a threat they really are, how many are actually together in the head enough to make things happen beyond suicide bombings two miles from their homes, if in spite of the obviously flawed security theater, nothing on the scale of 9/11 has happened since.

I think we are generally saved by the fact that religious fundamentalists and angry people as a category don't read very many books. Most read selected excerpts from just one. Diving into a library would get you tremendous information and insights into how to fuck up America but good, but to get it, you'd have to read stuff and in the doing so, probably uncover some uncomfortable truths about oneself.

And proof that the jackhole did not do his research: he decided Oregon should be his target (not because he happens to live here) because "nothing ever happens there." Aside from, you know, the first and only successful bioweapon attack on United States soil: in 1984, followers of the Bhagwan Rajneesh introduced specially engineered salmonella onto a salad bar in The Dalles, Oregon, probably part of a power struggle within the cult.

So that's my cynical take on the whole thing. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go sit in the corner and make bibble-bibble noises over the fact that my friends would have been inside the blast radius.

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