THE USUAL SUSPECTS
This current story from the States about the supposed major 'terror cell' who have been "foiled" and arrested...
It seems to have been uncritically swallowed and regurgitated verbatim by most News outlets both there and here; but even ten minutes digging around by a lazy sod like me reveals a different story altogether.
The real story seems to be that this poor Narseal Batiste character - the supposed ring leader they have arrested and paraded as a Evil Hardened Terrorist Mastermind - is actually a sad, unemployed, semi-delusional 'care in the community' type, who was well known in his neighbourhood as a harmless eccentric, who wore strange robes, carried a giant wooden staff and stood at the same intersection every day and talked to the sky (well like yeah, that sure fits the profile of well-integrated secretive Terrorist Mastermind to a key, don't it?); the guy fell apart after his beloved mother died, and he subsequently went bankrupt. Interestingly, he and his friends aren't Muslim, but follow The Moorish Science Church - which is the same utopian belief system that Hakim Bey (aka Peter Lamborn Wilson) talked up a few years back. [More on this, possibly, when I track down my copy of the excellent Lamborn Wilson book with a chapter on Moorish Science and its homegrown 'prophet' Noble Drew Ali. Moorish Science is/was kind of religion as bricolage, part 50s hep cat hipster jive, part Americanised Islam, part proto-Rasta proto-Black Power street pol.]
Anyway, Batiste and his homeless, job-less, penniless (and, it has to be said, clueless) friends, were holed up in a decrepit warehouse, not a threat to anyone or anything... UNTIL ... until the FBI 'infiltrated' them with a paid informant. There's already been suspicion and protest at previous dubious 'Homeland Security' cases which hinged on 'informants' who, looking at anything up to a $250,000 gift horse had to come up with something to feed and placate their Feeb masters; which is what appears to have happened here. The Batiste Gang [sic] had never expressed anything approaching a 'terrorist' or anti-US thought or sentiment (unless you count Batiste expressing sadness and outrage at 9/11, according to his Father) ... UNTIL ... this devious (and conveniently anonymous) 'informant' cum agent provocateur - let's henceforth call him 'Keyser Soze' - arrived on the raggle taggle scene. At which point Soze himself lined up Batiste and friends and got them to swear an oath to 'Al Qaeda' for the benefit of the already installed surveillance cameras. Likewise, the whole 'plot to blow up the Chicago Sears Tower' was a concotion by Soze, who out of nowhere told them he could find them guns, explosives, supplies, etc. (Batiste's initial response to this information? He gave Soze the gang's SHOE SIZES, because they were sorely in need of NEW BOOTS.)
Now, go back and read the dozens of uncritical News reports of this 'story' (Guardian included, thus far), complete with ridiculous quotes from FBI, Richard Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales. (Some of which appear to almost err on the side of a cautionary ambivalence about a case which even they themselves may anticipate falling apart at some point down the road - as previous such cases have.) The Government admit that they have found no weapons, no explosives, no cameras: nothing. Forked tongue Government speak to account for this amateur night scenario is that the group were "more aspirational than operational" and that, this just goes to show that 'you don't have to have solid links to Al Qaeda to do Al Qaeda's work' (Goonzales ... actually that was a parapraxis, but I think I'll let it stand: GOONzales.)
It's hard to decide what the worst aspect of this 'story' is, although I'm sure you can count them all off for yourselves.What would be worse - that the combined powers of the Bush Administration, Homeland Security and the FBI DO or DON'T actually believe the B.S. they're shovelling out here?
That they think the twitchy public and a cowed, complaisant media will just swallow this exploitation and entrapment of a mentally unstable man - sad dreamer at worst, almost certainly in need of sympathetic treatment of some kind?
Various second thoughts ensue of course: how much money was wasted on this? Who, if anyone, was Keyser Soze NOT turning in? What about the real, competent, hidden criminals who are quietly getting on with their viral work, as before, while Big Power spends months, and millions, making home movies of some misguided guys who make Reverend Jim from TAXI look like Herbert Marcuse?
And ... why now? Well, best guess is it was the only thing they had handy to release to balance out THIS ...
Another Day In The Empire ;
Duluth News Tribune ;
New York Daily News ;
+ a PREVIOUS EXAMPLE of how these things "work". (It always baffled me, that Bush pronouncement, that 'we will not distinguish between Terrorists and those who harbour them', given that in the years preceding 9/11, the countries that "harboured" the operatives in question were ... Germany, Great Britain and - predominantly - the USA itself.)
posted by Ian 6/27/2006 11:41:00 AM