Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Terrorists Living Among Us! No Big Deal?

" Kelly: Al-Qaida associates in N.J." Actually, it's the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark that says it's monitoring activities of a few New Jersey residents.

"There are people in your county who are affiliated with known al-Qaida members overseas," was how the FBI agent who heads the counterterror squad for Bergen County put it.

What's surprising about this revelation of terrorists-among-us is how little it's being discussed in traditional media, and Muslim-rights groups.

CAIR New Jersey doesn't mention the FBI activity on its home page, and its news page is either offline or available to members only. This may simply be a matter of common sense. "Civil Rights Advocates" jumping to the defense of people engaged in criminal behavior because they belong to an "oppressed group" may be wearing thin, these days. And, that's a habit that isn't unique to, or characteristic of, Islamic-rights organizations - at least as far as I can see.

The New York Times doesn't seem to be covering this, and I've seen precious little coverage in any news outlet.
  • On the one hand, I admire this stoic, stiff-upper-lip approach: a presumed trademark of the British.
  • On the other hand, I'm a little concerned at what appears to be another news blackout of news that's not fit to print - in the opinion of whoever controls editorial policy in the tradition news media.
The New Jersey situation is clearly no secret: FBI officials have discussed it with news media on the local level, without the "anonymous" mask that we're accustomed to in Washington.

I don't think there's some big conspiracy of silence here.

I do think that we are quite likely looking at very understandable behavior by traditional news men. Their jobs became high-profile, prestigious positions after the JFK assassination and Watergate. Until cable television and then the Internet came along, they were part of a small, lofty, circle of information gatekeepers.

Now, the journalistic old guard is faced with a situation that is a very poor match to their world view. The beliefs which worked so well for them while covering the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam, and Watergate, aren't as relevant to the war on terror. Racism (as it's been defined in America), the military-industrial complex, and rampant corruption in places of power, don't seem to be the big problem just now.

So, it would be understandable if traditional news media decided to ignore the terrorists in New Jersey, and hope that the whole thing blows over.

Maybe I'm being unfair.

If I'm not, the rest of us will have to stop assuming that if something important happened, it will be in the paper or on the evening news.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.