Wouldn’t it be great to be a national security analyst who could just cherry-pick data that fits your worldview and then pass it off as an accurate depiction of reality? CNN’s Peter Bergen is a lucky guy, because that’s exactly what he gets to do as a “national security analyst” and director at the New America Foundation.
In his latest piece he argues that Americans have more to fear from “right wing extremists” (e.g., Guys who wear cowboy hats at ranches in Nevada?) than Islamic terrorists. Ironically, his column appears the same day he and his colleagues had to report on an “extraordinary” gathering of al Qaeda in Yemen, the size of which hasn’t been seen in years — but more on that later.
Mr. Bergen writes:
[T]he death toll in the shootings in Kansas is similar to that of last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, where three people were killed and the suspects later killed a police officer as they tried to evade capture. (Many more, of course, were also wounded in the Boston attacks; 16 men, women and children lost limbs.)
In fact, since 9/11 extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology. According to a count by the New America Foundation, right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11. (The total includes the latest shootings in Kansas, which are being classified as a hate crime).
By contrast, terrorists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology have killed 21 people in the United States since 9/11.
Just like your friendly neighborhood liberal’s data on global warming — errrm, climate change — Mr. Bergen starts the timeline at a point that benefits the conclusion he wanted to come to the entire time, and then carefully begins adding data.
What a coincidence: his timeline starts on 9/12, which of course denies the 2,977 victims and God knows how many who suffer from Ground Zero-related health problems, PTSD, etc. Cost to the economy? Eh. Never mind. Failed Islamic terror plots and the cost required to keep that death toll at 21? Let’s ignore that one. (Within the piece he also omits any mention of the first World Trade Center bombing from 1993, but then makes sure to talk about the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.)
And hey, the Boston Marathon bombing was basically like the Kansas shooting, as long as we sorta-kinda ignore the hundreds who were injured, those missing limbs and the psychological trauma to all of Boston.
Perhaps we shouldn’t count the first Fort Hood massacre, in which 13 people died and 32 others were wounded when Maj. Nidal “Allahu Akbar!” Hasan went on a rampage, because the Obama administration deemed it “workplace violence.”
Despite this history of deadly violence by individuals motivated by political ideologies other than al Qaeda, it is jihadist violence that continues to dominate the news and the attention of policy makers.
Some of this is quite understandable. After all, on 9/11 al Qaeda’s 19 terrorists killed almost 3,000 people in the space of a morning. Since then al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen tried to bring down with a bomb secreted on a passenger an American commercial jet flying over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 and al Qaeda’s branch in Pakistan tried to launch bombings on the New York subway system a few months earlier. Luckily those plots didn’t succeed, but certainly if they had the death toll would have been on a large scale.
Yet the disparity in media coverage between even failed jihadist terrorist attacks and this latest incident in Kansas is emblematic of a flawed division in the public’s mind between killing that is purportedly committed in the name of Allah and killing that is committed for other political ends, such as neo-Nazi beliefs about the need to kill Jews.
It’s cute how Mr. Bergen downplays the near-misses when it came to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed Christmas day attack over Detroit, and it’s sad that he forgot to add in shoe bomber Richard Reid’s failed attempt. Why? Because he wants to impress upon readers that those American right-wing neo-Nazis like Frazier Glenn Cross (who loves books put out by The Nation and is inspired by the history of the National Socialist Workers Party) are more dangerous to national security than a worldwide movement to create an Islamic caliphate.
As I said before, his CNN piece becomes even more hilarious when one considers that it comes on the very same day that al Qaeda hosted an “extraordinary” gathering in Yemen to essentially tell the U.S.: we’re coming for you.
In the middle of the clip, the man known as al Qaeda’s crown prince, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, appears brazenly out in the open, greeting followers in Yemen. Al-Wuhayshi, the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda globally and the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has said he wants to attack the United States. But in the video, he looks unconcerned that he could be hit by an American drone.”This is quite an extraordinary video,” Paul Cruickshank, CNN terrorism analyst, said.
The video shows al-Wuhayshi addressing more than 100 fighters somewhere within Yemen, Cruickshank said, a restive nation on the southwestern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. The al Qaeda leader, he said, is “taking a big risk in doing this.” …
In a speech to the group, al-Wuhayshi makes it clear that he’s going after the United States, saying “We must eliminate the cross. … The bearer of the cross is America!”
U.S. officials believe the highly produced video is recent. With some fighters faces blurred, there is worry it signals a new round of plotting.
“The U.S. intelligence community should be surprised that such a large group of al Qaeda assembled together, including the leadership, and somehow they didn’t notice,” said Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst.
Maybe the intelligence community “didn’t notice” the terror gathering because they’re listening to guys like you, Mr. Bergen. Classic!
Yes, while Mr. Bergen and the New America Foundation are busy figuring out ways to cast right wing pro-lifers as a national security threat on par with al Qaeda terror masterminds, enemies like bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri (the guy who provided Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with his device) have been perfecting their deadly craft.
Again, CNN reported:
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as AQAP, is considered the most dangerous al Qaeda affiliate. The CIA and the Pentagon have repeatedly killed AQAP leaders with drone strikes. But the group is now emboldened.
“The main problem about this group is that it has a bomb maker who can put bombs on to planes that can’t be detected,” Bergen said.
That bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, is believed to be responsible for severalattack attempts against the United States, including the failed 2009 Christmas Day underwear bomber attack in Detroit.
Poor Mr. Bergen — he’s so confused. On one hand his job forces him to admit that we face a determined enemy who now makes bombs that are undetectable, but on the other hand he really, really wants the world to pay attention to the Tea-hadists and the Christian Taliban or whatever insult for conservatives you can come up with.
Perhaps it never occurred to Mr. Bergen, but the reason why Islamic terrorism “continues to dominate the news and the attention of policy makers” is because the seriousness of threat it poses is quite clear to sane people around the world. Perhaps it dominates “the attention of policy makers” because they’re the ones getting intelligence briefings — and in those closed-door sessions it’s obvious that the random whack job with a pistol or a rifle is not the same threat to the nation’s security as a global movement to force Sharia Law down the civilized world’s throat.
I can’t wait until Mr. Bergen puts together another set of analysis that proves that the tea party is more of a national security threat than British jihadists returning from the battlefields in Syria.