Friday, June 23, 2006

Chicago Terror Plot, and the future of the Bush Whitehouse 

With the foiling of a massive terror plot in Miami, one aimed at none other than the Sears Tower, it is officially pouring for the Bush Whitehouse. It seems like the Bush presidency has been marked, at least since September 11th, by the alarming waxes and wanes of his political fortune; more so than many of his predecessors. Perhaps it is that increased public scrutiny and awareness, that desire to find leadership in time of crisis that accompanied the country's awakening to terror, that caused this trend toward fluctuation in both the public opinion and, seemingly, presidential fortune. At any rate, the triumphant capture of Zarqawi seems to have been the latest trigger for a much-needed upswing. Since then, one can trace the streak of victories, small and large, for the President: the completion of the Iraqi cabinet, the killing of "religious emir" Mansour Suleiman Mansour Khalifi al-Mashhadani, or Sheik Mansour, in Iraq, the recent press release reminding the public and the press that, yes, Saddam had weapons and lots of them, the surprising and encouraging backing by European leaders of the President on both North Korean and Iranian policies, etc. Today's news, however, may be the most important of all.
A federal indictment against seven men revealed Friday details of what the government said was a plan intended to "kill all the devils we can."

The mission was intended to be "as good or greater than 9/11" beginning with the destruction of Chicago's Sears Tower, according to court documents obtained Friday by CNN.

Certainly a chilling prospect, made all the more worrying by my current proximity to the building in question (its only a few blocks from my office in the Federal Reserve). Yet the discovery of this plot is a powerful opportunity for the Bush administration to capitalize on recent success, and translate it into a change in lagging public approval. The news of this latest would-be attack reminds America not only that we are at war with an ideology, one that supersedes traditional understandings of nationality and warfare (5 of the suspects are reportedly American, this is still unconfirmed) and will go to any lengths to inflict change upon its perceived adversary, but also that we must remain vigilant in the pursuit of our own preservation, and not lose sight of the lessons of September 11th. Most important, perhaps, is the unspoken implications behind the fact that this plot is a foiled one. For all his critics, and there are many, all those who decry the Bush administration as lacking focus in the war on terror or trampling civil rights, he sure seems to be doing something right. It's time Republican leadership, and the Whitehouse, started saying so.

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