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NY Times: Bush “Most Likely” Right About Flypaper Theory

John on September 9, 2006 at 11:41 pm

Sunday’s NY Times has a piece laying out a brand new anti-Bush argument. On the fifth anniversary of 9/11, The Times wants us to know we have little to fear from terrorists in America:

[F]ive years of evidence suggests that the terrorist threat within the United States is much more modest than was feared after 9/11, when it seemed quite possible that there were terrorist sleeper cells in American cities, armed with “weapons of mass destruction” and awaiting orders to attack.

Where it gets really interesting is when the Times tries to explain why:

Even as some European immigrant communities have emerged as caldrons of jihadist anger, American Muslims have turned out to be a loyal group whose affluence and diversity offer infertile ground for plotting. And the Iraq war, even as it has deepened Muslim hostility to the United States, has most likely diverted anti-American terrorists to a more convenient target.

Did you get that? The Times says the Iraq war “most likely” diverted terrorists from the US. President Bush has been making exactly that argument since at least 2004. It was dubbed the “flypaper theory” by columnist David Warren.

To say that liberals dismissed Bush’s argument would be putting it kindly. Lefty bloggers roundly bashed the idea, especially in the wake of the London bombings. For example, here’s Arianna Huffington writing in the waker of the London bombings:

London: Bush’s Flypaper Theory is Blown to Pieces
by Arianna Huffington Friday, Jul. 08, 2005 at 8:06 PM

Well, there goes that theory…

Odds are we probably won’t be hearing for a while the Bush mantra that the reason we’re fighting them over in Iraq is so we don’t have to fight them here at home. For the last few months, this ludicrous shibboleth has been the president’s go-to line — his latest rationale for slogging on in Iraq.

Here he was on July 4th: “We’re taking the fight to the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.”

And during his primetime speech to the nation on June 28th, there he was again, this time quoting the commander on the ground in Iraq: “We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us.”

The attacks in London proved how absurd this either/or logic is when fighting this kind of hydra-headed enemy.


Of course, it didn’t take the London bombings to reveal this premise as a sham. The presence of American forces in Iraq didn’t keep the enemies of western culture from attacking Madrid. And it didn’t keep them from planting explosives in London’s tubes. And it won’t, in and of itself, keep them from striking here

Except that according to the NY Times, it “most likely” has. But again, Arianna was hardly the only lefty to take this line against the “flypaper strategy.” Think Progress had a similar take. Here’s one from TPMCafe. And here’s the Freshmaker (Kos) saying much the same thing (Note: DK was down for maintenance so I’ve linked to a cached page). Will they have any reaction to the NY Times admission that the flypaper theory worked?

The rest of the article is devoted to suggesting the evidence of serious, domestic terror cells in the US has been “exagerrated.” So I guess it’s one step forward, two steps back with the Times.

Finally, the motivation for this story is found in a coda about the reporting, which notes:

Interviews and reporting were conducted in collaboration with the PBS program “Frontline” for a documentary, “The Enemy Within,”to be broadcast next month.

No doubt it’s a coincidence that the Times and PBS have teamed up to discount the seriousness of the terror threat at this particular moment. It’s just a coincidence that “terrorism” is the GOP’s strongest issue according to all the polls.

Either that or it’s an election year and next month is October. Surprise!

Update: Vice President Cheney was on Meet the Press today. He addressed the “flyaper strategy” saying:

I don’t know how you can explain five years of no attacks, five years of successful disruption of attacks, five years of, of defeating the efforts of al-Qaeda to come back and kill more Americans. You’ve got to give some credence to the notion that maybe somebody did something right.

I think we did. I think we did a lot right. And I think part of what we did right was to take the fight to the enemy, to treat this as a war, not a law enforcement problem, which is the way these kinds of things have been treated before we arrived; to actively and aggressively go after the state sponsors of terror, as we did, for example, in Afghanistan and Iraq; to aggressively go after those places where the terrorists might be able to lay their hands on that deadly technology they’d like to use in that next attack.

At some point, you do have to give credence to the notion that somebody did something right. That is, unless you’re the NY Times or PBS. In that case, you simply decide there’s another explanation for our success: there’s simply not much of a threat.

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Category: MSM & Bias |

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