I just watched a 6 minute speech concerning the suppression of freedom of speech in Europe and it reminded me of the importance and vitality of the first amendment. This guy has a pretty harsh assessment for those trying to criminalize anti-Muslim sentiment. He has tremendous verbal flair, a cohesive argument and doesn't mince words. His other diatribes are equally poignant. I recommend all of them.
For the past several months, I've debated over whether it's wise to write the following post. If you're one of my faithful readers (I estimate the total number at about a bakers dozen), you already know my thoughts and where I'm heading. I've decided to go on record with my concerns, even though it's the modern-day equivalent of screaming "fire" in a crowded theater.
At the 9/11 hearings, Condoleeza Rice testified before Congress that no one in the government "could have ever conceived of terrorists hijacking commercial planes and near-simultaneously crashing them into buildings." This statement was later proven erroneous when Richard Clarke gave testimony concerning the no-fly zone over the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. During an Olympic security meeting, Clarke was incredulous - "What if someone flies a plane into the Olympics? Why hasn't there been a no-fly zone established?" And what about the kamikaze pilots of World War II? My point - Our defense apparatus was certainly aware of the concept of using airplanes as 100,000 lb. cruise missiles. And Condoleeza later recanted and modified her original testimony.
I'd be willing to bet that somewhere in our massive defense infrastructure, the conceptual nature of 9/11 was conceived and discussed. Perhaps not the totality of 4 planes, but certainly 1 plane and a high value target. I'd also think it was deliberated upon and eventually rejected, not because it was implausible, but rather because in a pre-9/11 world, nothing could have been done regardless. There was no momentum for government to act. I can't fathom how the government would just construct a Department of Homeland Security, hire TSA agents & flight marshals, and order people to remove their shoes before boarding a plane. Something cataclysmic needed to transpire before there was governmental inertia.
If someone in the late 1990's had accurately predicted what transpired on 9/11, would you have held him liable? What if he concocted the entire scenario, wrote about it and then some crazed cell of suicidal terrorists found out about it and carried it to fruition? There's the conundrum. And it's a big one. What if someone out there had accurately predicted 9/11? Would the government have acted? No. Would civilians at the World Trade Centers reconsidered their vocations? No.
But isn't it always best to err on the side of trying to save innocent lives. That's what our leaders always say. "My #1 priority is safeguarding the lives of American citizens!" I've heard both Bush and Obama utter that exact phrase on a number of occasions. What if I conceived of an innovative terrorist plot, one which has surely been conceived of within the guarded walls of our bureaucratic defense department? But much like 9/11, you really can't discuss it for fear of it causing a government induced panic. After all, what if some extremist group sees your idea and takes action? Should you be held accountable? Can you be held liable for mere postulations? Is there a separate set of rules for the internet regarding freedom of speech? Is it feasible to monitor the blatherings of 6 billion human beings and selectively prosecute those with whom you disagree? Who makes that determination? If you keep reading, I assure you of one thing - you will soon see a test on the limits of free speech.
If you go online and search for the next 9/11 attack, you'll often see the "private planes flown by suicidal pilots detonating suitcase nukes over major metropolitan areas" scenario. The sonic amplification waves instantly killing hundreds of thousands. Ouch! That would probably throw a crimp in my weekend golf plans. And our government has also established "top secret safety protocol" for fear of some moron trying to crash a plane into a nuclear facility. Again with the ouch! That would nullify my plans to go see Pearl Jam. Why am I bringing this up? Because even if the likelihood is remote, it's an acceptable discourse when discussing national defense. The recent use of the explosive (PETN) by the Nigerian Abdulmutallab is also grounds for concern and an open forum. Anthrax, salmonella, botulinum toxin, poisoning the water supply - the last time I checked, it's all fair game for discussion and even preparedness.
But what if the next 9/11 is vastly simpler, conventional and here's the scary part, incredibly INEVITABLE. I've recently written about who might carry out the next significant 9/11. Aside from the massive shock value, 9/11 succeeded because it was a powerful demonstration of asymmetric tactics, especially employing the use of Islamic Jihadists willing to martyr themselves. It's amazing how much damage you can do if you're willing to die for your cause.
CNN website - A league source recently told us that the NFL anticipates that all-time audience record will be "shattered" by Super Bowl XLIV.
Last year, Super Bowl XLIII generated for NBC an all-time record audience of 98.7 million viewers. This year, the average audience is expected to extend into nine figures, for the first time ever.
Well, 100 million viewers +. That's one hell of a captive audience. If you're a follower of my blog, you've come to recognize one immutable fact. I believe that 4th generation warfare is comprised of MESSAGE. The vast majority of the American public has become immune and desensitized to the daily killings abroad. Just ask Joe Smith, "Do you know which Pakistani City was the site of a recent marketplace bombing that killed 28 and injured over 70?" As he struggles to even name a city in Pakistan, now ask him, "Are you going to fill out a NCAA Final Four bracket?" If you can't figure out his response, you're really out of touch with what Joe Schmo considers important. If you believe in the universal laws of balance (probably the only thing I actually believe in), at some point Joe Schmo is going to have to reexamine what he considers fundamentally important.
But wait a minute, this weekend is the Superbowl. The most prized platform for delivering a MESSAGE. Let me make this point so there can be absolutely no room for confusion. I believe it is inevitable that during the course of my lifetime, a group of individuals (you could call them terrorists if you wish), will try to "steal the superbowl." I've been dancing around this in previous blogs because I'm well aware of the sensitive nature of this subject. AND LET ME BE CLEAR, I have no desire whatsoever to see my prediction validated. Yet, I can't rely on the U.S. government to issue a public warning that adequately protects its citizens. Remember what Richard Clarke said during the 9/11 hearings - "I'm sorry. Your government failed you. I failed you." Well, if the U.S. government can't protect you, I suppose the burden falls on this 39 year old from Wheeltown, WV.
So what's your ominous prediction? How do you "steal the Superbowl?" Well, it's pretty damn easy. Assuming you have 2 or more people dedicated to delivering their MESSAGE, I think you would see either car bombs or improvised explosive devices detonated at sports bars/restaurants in the cities of origin for the Superbowl opponents (in this years case, New Orleans and Indianapolis). The simultaneous attacks would occur at roughly 6:30pm. Depending on the size and scope of the terrorist group, I think it would also be conceivable to see similarly timed/orchestrated attacks in Minneapolis and the New York/New Jersey metro area (representing the other teams recently eliminated). That's either 2 or 4 cities with accurate, alarming and indefensible relevance.
The main point - you have achieved absolute dominance with the ability to disseminate message. The network will be forced to alert the viewing public. If they don't, they would be held morally culpable in the event of additional attacks. But trust me, they would. This isn't like Fox News refraining from initial coverage of the Haiti earthquake because there's the inaugural Glenn Beck interview with Sarah Palin. This one's a no-brainer. Even the likes of Fox News cannot bypass a story of this magnitude.
But wait a minute. The government just spent millions fortifying the Superbowl site in Miami. Bomb sniffing dogs, chemical & biological weapons detectors, staggered checkpoints, enhanced security, FBI & Secret Service presence and the now-predictable no fly zone. Let's take a minute and thank the government for wisely allocating all this relatively worthless additional security. Perhaps we should be grateful that the government is only 20 years removed from the current threat. Why on earth would any terrorist worth his weight in Yemeni currency travel to Miami to deliver their message?
Let's focus on some of the defining characteristics of what I'm going to call "Stealing the Superbowl."
1) It transforms low value targets (sports bars/restaurants) into high value targets.
2) It's asymmetrical in nature. Much like 9/11, it has just simply never been conceived of and executed. Yet, it's entirely conventional in nature. No need for the sophistication of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
3) It utilizes TIMING as a weapon, a favorite tactic of Al Qaeda. Timed attacks would be even more terrifying because they're largely indefensible but highly predictable. Who, in their right mind, would go to a city/team relevant sports bar for future championship games? And yes, I think the fear would spread contagiously to other sporting events. There would be a terror-fueled, sociological shift in the way Americans spend their leisure time.
4) It cuts straight through the heart of the capitalist system and our obsession with professional football, right through the collective jugular of America. What company would spend mega-advertising bucks during the next Superbowl? All of a sudden, the sock puppet in the pet food commercial just doesn't seem as comical. Peyton Manning's TD/INT ratio doesn't seem that important either.
5) With the exception of a few isolated incidents through the last century, it brings the return of the car bomb to the United States in a dramatically meaningful way. Historically speaking, the car bomb has been a very useful tool in advancing meaningful political change as well as creating mass hysteria. The return of the car bomb, used as a weapon to assist in the delivery of message, is INEVITABLE as our nation state begins to further hollow and erode. And regrettably yes, unless you're a politician, the United States is currently in a stage of decline.
6) The actors need not be suicidal, religious inspired fanatics. Their death is not a necessity. This really opens up the spectrum of potential attackers. And since it's all about message, a significant body count is not a prerequisite. This will be a significant trademark of 4th generation warfare as the barriers to entry (committing acts of war) become more easily attainable.
7) And to put it bluntly, it's a real kick in the ass. Kudos! Congratulations to your city for achieving this wonderful opportunity on sports' grandest stage. Now, here's your reward.
I've covered more of these points adequately in previous posts. You can draw your own conclusions with regard to the attributes and pernicious fallout from such an attack.
Who would do pull it off? A foreign terrorist group - Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, or perhaps some geopolitical blowback from a Mexican or South American drug kingpin. How about a homegrown terrorist entity - perhaps the MS-13 gang or maybe some deranged group of pro-lifers. I've already covered who I think poses the greatest danger in a previous blog, so I won't regurgitate it.
I'm going out on a limb, but it's my contention that it will be a group of Fox News inspired, white supremacist birthers. I've never seen such a flow of unrestricted venom in the "news" business. And they're supposedly the #1 media outlet in a very hostile economic climate (horrible job market, precarious mortgage foreclosure situation, massive contempt for government and big business and all the accompanying inflation). This could provide the necessary spark to light the fuse. It would play especially well with the deranged birthers who believe Obama's not even an American citizen, let alone a legitimate president. These are the disillusioned, downtrodden rural types with more exposure to weaponry and a contempt for anyone they deem sophisticated and elitist. After having been exposed to the seemingly endless flow of Fox News propaganda, as well as a the inclination toward being receptive to brainwashing, and of course an already inherent predisposition towards embracing virulent racism - it just seems like the perfect storm. An amalgamation of incendiary factors and considerations.
Or now I'll get a little conspiratorial. Perhaps it could be a rogue element deep within the confines of the Republican party. A group committed to pulling it off but unwilling to assign responsibility. Such an attack would beckon for accountability, and would painfully linger over an administration already perceived as weak on terror. I wouldn't be surprised to see this administration eventually pay for the consequences of affording Abdulmutallab (the attempted PETN Nigerian bomber) the rights of an American citizen. This issue plays overwhelmingly in favor of the Dick Cheney machine. Closing Gitmo splits about 50/50. Waterboarding maybe 60/40. But offering foreign terrorists the same rights as American citizens is a LOSER. Probably splits about 85/15, if that. I expect to see it reemerge because it would play better than a Willie Horton ad. Except this time there would be long-bearded Muslim terrorist in full regalia being informed of his Miranda rights.
Why do I think it will happen this year? Just a strange hunch based on the prevailing climate of hostility. The undercurrent of racial tension with the election of Obama and the unabated contempt for the President via the constant drivel of Fox News. Eventually, there has to be some social blowback. You can't keep feeding the propaganda machine without consequence. Home foreclosure market, depressed job market, but mostly a newer trend - an obsession with instant "youtube-like" fame and notoriety - something I like to call the "American Idol Complex" - everyone can get their 15 minutes of fame all contribute to the problem. Well, except with my scenario you get at least 15 days of exposure. It would take quite some time before this story to dissipate out of the news cycle. It could conceivably have this magical ability to reemerge every time there's a major sporting event.
Am I worried about being investigated by the FBI? Yep. If you were to execute a simple google search on key words and phrases in this blog, I'm positive I'd surface somewhere in there. Here's something I find odd - I haven't scoured the internet, but I have poked around a good bit regarding this topic and nothing ever comes up. I'm convinced that google might be purposely suppressing their search engine results. I can't be the only person on the planet who has figured this out and decided to write about it (well, in English). Then again, not many saw 9/11 coming. What a fitting tribute - they could call me 2-7 boy, Superbowl conspirator, message-man, blah, etc.
I'm sure I could expect a knock at my door. Hopefully, they'll screw up and go to fuckface's house instead. Although concerned, I should be on safe ground. I'm not advocating violence. Merely trying to convey a sense of urgency to my enfeebled government. Plus, I'm posting this a couple days before the Superbowl. Hardly enough time for a sophisticated group of terrorists to get their act together.
The responsibility lies within each of us to remain vigilant and aware of our surroundings. And I'll be the first to admit, this post stretches the 1st Amendment in a precarious direction. But it's my contention, that your slightly sophisticated evildoer could figure this out. Remember in 2001-02 when the government felt obligated to put out heightened terror alert threat levels for the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, and of course my favorite, shopping malls. Of course, all these terror alerts had nothing to do with protecting its citizens. It was all about bureaucratic ass-covering. In retrospect, it's difficult to blame the government for this. But how about when they overplayed the anthrax attacks and there was a run on duct tape. I just think people should occasionally avoid sports bars at specific times in certain cities. I don't consider that to be fear mongering.
How can our government protect us, mired somewhere between 2nd and 3rd generation warfare, when it's painfully obvious that there entire military defense model is obsolete and incapable of transitioning? Our defense department reminds me of those words uttered by Dr. Phil - "You cannot change what you're not willing to acknowledge." What about the heralded Department of Homeland Security headed up by Janet Napolitano? The preceding statement doesn't even call for a sarcastic follow-up. So I'll go on record here, if you live in one of the representative cities involved in the Superbowl, do yourself a favor and stay at home. In any event, don't head out to the local sports pub. You could find your position heavily compromised, far worse than losing a coin toss wager or narrowly missing the square on your office pool Superbowl board.
Welcome to the fourth generation, a world where body counts become increasingly irrelevant. A world where smaller, non-state related actors vie for message exposure. As citizens become further disillusioned with the state, they'll become loyal to a variety of disparate groups or tribes - a distinct myriad of causes, each with a differing amount of perceived justification for the use of terror. And what's truly scary, as our country trends toward decentralization and the potency of modern technology rises, the ability for the aforementioned Joe Schmo to wage war makes just about everyone a player, and everyone a threat.
At the intersection of timing and the media lies the MESSAGE. I'd set up some kind of sophisticated model or flow chart to explain it better, but to be honest, I lack the cognitive skill. To be blunt, I'm just not smart enough. But I stand firm on my original prediction, the stealing of the Superbowl or a televised event of mass exposure is inevitable. At some point, it will happen.
One final thought, thank God Pixburgh isn't in the Superbowl this year. When the FBI comes a knockin', my traditional yearly Steelers playoff beard would have me lookin' all Al Qaeda up in n'at. The ensuing mugshot would not play well if I'm trying to garner/salvage hearts and minds. Yeah, that Saf guy is GUILTY. Well, at least with an Obama administration, I'll get a civilian trial instead of being blindfolded and water boarded. I could see Dick Cheney wearing a cowboy hat, sipping a gin and tonic, seated in a wheelchair in the corner of the room. "Let's get him boys! It's payback time!"
All kidding aside, I know this post is a "bit" edgy and a kind of conspiratorial, but I stand firm behind the original, fundamental assessment. Major live television events will eventually be usurped by "Breaking News." It's the next logical progression. It is INEVITABLE as message takes center stage. Here's an interesting idea - try building a model for which actions would be successful and which actions would fail. Damn! Wouldn't that make for some intriguing test cases for the 1st Amendment? But before I get into some real trouble, I think I'll go back to restaurant reviews and paternity tests.