Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an Idiot

06.14.07 | 2:00 AM

This courtroom sketch shows Russell Defreitas at his arraignment in
federal court in the borough of Brooklyn, New York. Defreitas was
arrested for allegedly plotting to blow up a fuel line that runs to
John F. Kennedy International Airport.
AP Photo/Christine Cornell

The
recently publicized terrorist plot to blow up John F. Kennedy
International Airport, like so many of the terrorist plots over the
past few years, is a study in alarmism and incompetence: on the part of
the terrorists, our government and the press.

Terrorism is a real threat, and one that needs to be addressed
by appropriate means. But allowing ourselves to be terrorized by
wannabe terrorists and unrealistic plots — and worse, allowing our
essential freedoms to be lost by using them as an excuse — is wrong.

The alleged plan, to blow up JFK’s fuel tanks and a small
segment of the 40-mile petroleum pipeline that supplies the airport,
was ridiculous. The fuel tanks are thick-walled, making them hard to
damage. The airport tanks are separated from the pipelines by cutoff
valves, so even if a fire broke out at the tanks, it would not back up
into the pipelines. And the pipeline couldn’t blow up in any case,
since there’s no oxygen to aid combustion. Not that the terrorists ever
got to the stage — or demonstrated that they could get there — where
they actually obtained explosives. Or even a current map of the
airport’s infrastructure.

But read what Russell Defreitas, the lead terrorist, had to say:
“Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United
States. To hit John F. Kennedy, wow…. They love JFK — he’s like the
man. If you hit that, the whole country will be in mourning. It’s like
you can kill the man twice.”

If these are the terrorists we’re fighting, we’ve got a pretty incompetent enemy.

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