Buy WILLisms

XML Feed

Featured Entries

The Babe Theory Of Political Movements.
Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM

Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
June 20, 2005 5:36 AM

Yes, Kanye, Bush Does Care.
Oct. 31, 2005 12:41 AM

Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
Nov. 23, 2005 3:28 PM

Americans Voting With Their Feet.
Nov. 30, 2005 1:33 PM

Idea Majorities Matter.
May 12, 2006 6:15 PM

Twilight Zone Economics.
Oct. 17, 2006 12:30 AM

The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
Dec. 13, 2006 1:01 PM

From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
Dec. 18, 2006 6:37 PM

Battle Between Entitlements & Pork.
Dec. 21, 2006 12:31 PM

Let Economic Freedom Reign.
Dec. 22, 2006 10:22 PM

Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
July 25, 2007 4:32 PM

Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
May 28, 2008 11:12 PM

Right To Work States Rock.
June 9, 2008 12:25 PM



Blogroll Me!



July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004

Social Security Reform Thursday.
March 13, 2008

Caption Contest: Enter Today!
Due: July 29, 2008

The Carnival Of Classiness.
Mar. 14, 2006

Quotational Therapy: Obama.
Apr. 4, 2008

Mainstream Melee: Wolfowitz.
May 19, 2007

Pundit Roundtable: Leaks.
July 9, 2006

A WILLisms.com(ic), by Ken McCracken
July 14, 2006


Powered by Movable Type 3.17
Site Design by Sekimori

WILLisms.com June 2008 Book of the Month (certified classy):

The WILLisms.com Gift Shop: Support This Site


This Week's Carnival of Revolutions: carnivalbutton.gif

Carnival Home Base: homebase.gif


« Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 234 -- Wal-Mart. | WILLisms.com | An Honor Just To Be Nominated. »

Pundit Roundtable

Hello hello, welcome back to PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE, our weekly gathering of perspicacious pundits. I am your host, Ken McCracken.

Our topics this week are these:

Topic 1: If you could go back in time to September 10, 2001, knowing everything you know today, how would you have prevented the hijackings that day? Who would you have told? How would you have warned the appropriate people without seeming like some sort of crackpot alarmist? Would your warnings have mattered, or would they have been drowned out in a vast sea of chatter?

Topic 2: We have not had a terrorist attack in the US since 9/11. Has this been due to luck, or is it due to improved countermeasures? Are we missing warning signs? Are our strategies and tactics solid?

Our first guest is new to the Roundtable, Paul from Wizbang! Paul, what do you think?

Topic 1 - That's simple. I'd call in bomb threats to each of the airline departure terminals and I'd tell them my name was Mohamed Atta al-Sayed. Then I'd get to Logan about 6am and personally put 9 rounds into the real Mohamed Atta. I'd spend about 30 days as a guest of the Feds while they sorted it all out, but I'd do it. A month in federal custody would be a small price to pay.

Topic 2 - While it is hard to argue with success, in reality, most all of our anti-terrorism countermeasures stateside are feel good excercises to make the ignorant masses think we are "doing something."

In reality, we have more soft targets than we could ever hope to secure. I think we should put more emphasis on citizen responsibility and less reliance on government. (We saw how well depending on goverment worked for the people in Superdome during Katrina.) But asking a politician to give up power is like asking the sun not to shine.

Our next guest is also a newcomer, Eric Lindholm, the Viking Pundit. Eric, what do you have to say?
Topic 2 - After years of insouciance at Mideast terrorism, the 9/11 attacks finally awakened Americans to the concept that we're in a war and we must be alert at all times. The Marines barracks in Beirut, the first World Trade Center attack, Khobar Towers, etc., were all abstract and foreign for many in the U.S. 9/11 changed that. I'm not so sure it's government action that has kept us safe rather than the fact that millions of Americans are keeping a sharp eye out for threats. There's simply no way that an attack, even an armed one, could succeed on an airplane when the passengers know the potential, dreadful outcome at hand. I'd like to believe we're a nation of "Flight 93 passengers" now and this is largely what has kept us free from terrorist attacks for the past four years.

Our next panelist is co-host Will Franklin. Will, what do you have to say?
Topic 1 - September 11 was such a surprising and unprecedented series of events, with such unparalleled consequences, that it would be hard to go back in time and convey just how serious and urgent the situation truly was. Even if you could go back and convince people that planes might be hijacked, how many would have believed that 4 could be not only hijacked simultaneously but also piloted effectively into high profile targets. With little or no warning. And relatively little support from nation-states. When was the last American plane hijacking? [crickets chirping]

It would also be difficult to convey that this is not your father's hijacking. There is no hostage situation with a SWAT team storming in and killing the terrorists at an airport somewhere. There is no "demand" to be met by a certain hour.

Another problem with going back in time and warning the authorities is that there were indeed vague warning signs. People did understand more generally that Islamic fundamentalism, spearheaded by al-Qaeda, was a threat to the United States. But planes have metal detectors. How can you hijack a plane without a firearm or bomb? It was just such an outlandish, far-fetched plot. If you could go back to September 10 and show people actual news footage of the epic disaster, who would have believed such a thing was even possible?

Topic 2 - As 9/11 recedes further into history with each passing day, we seem destined to let our guard down. The terrible memories begin to fade. We forget the lessons of 9/11. We fail to see that the war in Iraq is a crucial front in the War On Terror. We scream and moan and gnash and writhe about the Patriot Act stealing our liberties. We ease our security rules. We turn to other issues deemed more significant. We return to normal. Normal is good. I want us to fully return to normal.

I just hope our success in preventing another terrorist attack is less about luck than about President Bush's assertive geopolitical response abroad and balanced domestic response at home. In terms of missing warning signs, we're clearly not doing EVERYTHING right, but we are doing most things right. We're taking the fight to the terrorists. We're finally shifting out of a Cold War posture.

But we are neglecting the borders. It's a long border, both South and North, so it's not an easy thing to solve. We're not using our own energy resources the way we ought to be doing (drilling in Alaska, investing in the newest generation nuclear technology, and so on). We're still vulnerable when folks get together in stadiums and other dense facilities, not to mention buses and trains and other crowded modes of transportation. Patting down everyone entering the Rose Bowl next month just isn't really feasible, though, nor is scanning every bag before folks are allowed on the subway in NYC. That's where citizen vigilance comes in. That's where our superior technology and innovation come in.

Preventing another terrorist attack is a daunting task, and not an enviable one. President Bush does not get nearly enough credit for the lack of another major attack on American soil, but you know he would get most of the blame if the terrorists do succeed again.

The Host's Last Word: I am with Paul on this one - the 9mm is the only way to be sure.

Maybe if I plugged Atta full of holes at Logan airport on the morning of 9/11, I would have brought with me a boxful of newspaper clippings from the future to prove my righteous intent . . . Or even take back videos of the attacks. Not so sure they would be believed though - one of the striking things about the video of the planes hitting the Twin Towers was how Hollywood it looked. It didn't even look real, it honestly looked like 3D effects to me, it was so dramatic and unexpected.

Even if I were not vindicated for killing Atta, I would be content knowing that I had, in fact, prevented a catastrophe.

As for for the fact that we have not had a terrorist attack here since 9/11, I think the phrase "fortune favors the prepared" is appropriate.

It is probably just sheer luck that we have not had another attack in the U.S., in that al-Qaeda probably spent all of its resources and willing personnel on one big, dramatic roll of the dice that paid off for them on 9/11. Most likely, there is no major al-Qaeda presence left in the United States. This leads me to a BOLD PUNDIT PREDICTION: There will not be another terrorist attack until George W. Bush is out of office. More out of good fortune than planning.

Even though luck is the major factor, the federal government, and we the people, deserve credit for making a second attack more difficult. First and foremost, our aggressive military and foreign policy initiatives have achieved the most important security task of all: destroying the foreign lairs in Afghanistan and Iraq where the enemy trained, prepared and obtained resources.

The TSA has done an excellent job of screening for flights. As much as they get criticized, airline security is far better now than it was pre-9/11, forcing al-Qaeda to come up with a different sort of attack.

And I think the American people are much more aware of the warning signs of terrorist activity, and have caught on to the fact that they are valuable eyes and ears in preventing attacks, much as Israeli citizens, almost by second nature, are attuned to such warning signs. So give yourself a pat on the back.

Now if we could just secure the borders . . . especially the porous one with Canada that actual terrorists seem to prefer over Mexico.

Thanks for coming by! Thank you esteemed pundits,and come back next Sunday for another edition of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!

Update: Hoodlumman of File It Under comes in huffing and puffing to his Pundit chair, with his point of view:

Topic 1 - This is an interesting hypothetical. Knowing everything that we know now, I think it'd be pointless to try to prevent it from a FBI/CIA/top-level government attempt. I think the only way you could cause disruption in the 9/11 plan would be to phone in (anonymous?) tips to airport security with all of the hijackers' names and descriptions and their weapons.

I think any attempt to warn the White House, Pentagon, FBI, WTC, etc would bring unwanted attention to yourself, and extreme "detention" if the gov't ignored your warnings and the attacks still happened. You'd appear to have some mighty prescient information.

Topic 2 - I'm not sure why we haven't had another attack. It's probably due to legitimate counter-measures and diligence by local government and everyday citizens. It's possible that terrorists have been unable to manage anything on a large scale due to their diminished capacity post 9/11. They may also just not have anything in the makings - a wait and see approach. There's definitely easy ways to get into the country and small minor attacks could be done at anytime but I sincerely think that there's no substantial network or system in the U.S. these days, even amongst radical muslims in the U.S. that don't care much for us or our foreign policy. However, I think the American dream is the best deterrent for any Muslim citizens that might otherwise become militant here. For the opposite of this, see France.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 4 December 2005 12:17 PM


Good responses, guys.

Posted by: Will Franklin at December 4, 2005 05:12 PM

Sorry I couldn't contribute this week. I was ... "unavoidably detained." Great answer on #1 from Paul.

Posted by: Giacomo at December 4, 2005 09:54 PM

I agree, Giacomo. We'll try to have questions that elicit creative answers more in the future.

Posted by: Will Franklin at December 4, 2005 11:48 PM

I will be the one to bring it up- Stopping the 9-11 attacks would save 3000+ lives but knowing all of the good-yes Good that has followed ( free Afghanistan , Iraq, votes in Lebanon ,Libya out of the wmd biz and a clearer picture of who in the world are our friends) would you still stop them? What would recent history look like? Lots of "what if?" science fiction out there about civil war, wwII and even the 1500's, I am sure someone is writing the 9-11 novel now.

Posted by: thomas at December 5, 2005 05:52 PM

That is a great point Thomas.

If I went back in time and killed Atta, Saddam Hussein would still be in power . . .

Hmm, must rethink this . . .

Posted by: Ken McCracken at December 5, 2005 06:17 PM