Terrorism? What terrorism, asks media?

Henry Percy
"In what the White House called an attempted act of terrorism ..." Thus begins the Arizona Republic'sstory on the attack on Northwest Flight 253 (though the Republic's story is credited to the Washington Post, there are significant differences between the Republic's version and that in the Post, found here).

Two things leapt to mind as I read the opening: 1) Just why is it important that the White House called it terrorism? Is the subtext that President Obama is somehow "tough" on terrorism? Would it matter if the reporter's Aunt Mame defined it for us? Isn't any reader with a sixth-grade education, the target reading level of American newspapers, able to figure that out for him/herself? But now we know what to think, because Obama told us so. 2) It's an "attempted" act of terrorism. No terrorism here, folks. Yes, "several of the 278 passengers receiv[ed] minor injuries," and there will no doubt be counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. But maybe just the knowledge that it was simply "attempted" terrorism will be comfort enough to all those aboard Flight 253.

No matter how explicit the terrorists try to make their motivations, the experts are quick to discount them:

Abdul Mutallab has told federal investigators that he had ties to al-Qaida and traveled to Yemen to collect the incendiary device and instructions on how to use it, according to a federal counterterrorism official briefed on the case. But authorities have yet to verify the claim.

There is a reference to the Shoe Bomber, but Richard Reid was a " bizarre case ... Although he had been perceived by some to be a petty criminal, he did have ties to al-Qaida."

The NPR story centers on the premise that Abdulmutallab was not a terrorist, starting with the headline itself, "Terrorism Links Uncertain In Airplane Attack":

A Nigerian man with possible ties to terrorism ... Abdulmutallab's terrorist links, however, are uncertain ... Rep. Peter King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said Friday that Abdulmutallab had an al-Qaida connection, but law enforcement officials are not so sure ... Nothing uncovered so far indicates Abdulmutallab had any formal terrorist training. Abdulmutallab has allegedly said he picked up the device in Yemen, but officials aren't sure yet whether that is true, either.

And the New York Times is mystified as to motivation: "What led a worldly young man, who had studied at an elite British university, to choose suicidal violence?" Islam just never occurs to the erudite reporters and editors at our major news organizations. How long till we are treated to the meme that Abdulmutallab was simply a confused young man in need of psychological evaluation and counseling?

"In what the White House called an attempted act of terrorism ..." Thus begins the Arizona Republic'sstory on the attack on Northwest Flight 253 (though the Republic's story is credited to the Washington Post, there are significant differences between the Republic's version and that in the Post, found here).

Two things leapt to mind as I read the opening: 1) Just why is it important that the White House called it terrorism? Is the subtext that President Obama is somehow "tough" on terrorism? Would it matter if the reporter's Aunt Mame defined it for us? Isn't any reader with a sixth-grade education, the target reading level of American newspapers, able to figure that out for him/herself? But now we know what to think, because Obama told us so. 2) It's an "attempted" act of terrorism. No terrorism here, folks. Yes, "several of the 278 passengers receiv[ed] minor injuries," and there will no doubt be counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. But maybe just the knowledge that it was simply "attempted" terrorism will be comfort enough to all those aboard Flight 253.

No matter how explicit the terrorists try to make their motivations, the experts are quick to discount them:

Abdul Mutallab has told federal investigators that he had ties to al-Qaida and traveled to Yemen to collect the incendiary device and instructions on how to use it, according to a federal counterterrorism official briefed on the case. But authorities have yet to verify the claim.

There is a reference to the Shoe Bomber, but Richard Reid was a " bizarre case ... Although he had been perceived by some to be a petty criminal, he did have ties to al-Qaida."

The NPR story centers on the premise that Abdulmutallab was not a terrorist, starting with the headline itself, "Terrorism Links Uncertain In Airplane Attack":

A Nigerian man with possible ties to terrorism ... Abdulmutallab's terrorist links, however, are uncertain ... Rep. Peter King of New York, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said Friday that Abdulmutallab had an al-Qaida connection, but law enforcement officials are not so sure ... Nothing uncovered so far indicates Abdulmutallab had any formal terrorist training. Abdulmutallab has allegedly said he picked up the device in Yemen, but officials aren't sure yet whether that is true, either.

And the New York Times is mystified as to motivation: "What led a worldly young man, who had studied at an elite British university, to choose suicidal violence?" Islam just never occurs to the erudite reporters and editors at our major news organizations. How long till we are treated to the meme that Abdulmutallab was simply a confused young man in need of psychological evaluation and counseling?