'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, March 04, 2005

Al Qaeda is to 2003 as Hezbollah is to 2005? 

A few days ago, Wolcott discussed the possibility that neoconservatives are looking to change the identity of the boogeyman army threatening to destroy our very way of life.

He said he heard Mort Zuckerman on Tina Brown's show fretting about the danger of Hezbollah and then heard about it again on Wolf Blitzer. Wolf interviewed the authors of a new book "Lightning out of Lebanon", which attempts to make the case that Hezbollah is a threat not just to Israel but to America. The authors, at least one of them, not very surprisingly turn out to be affiliated to the neocon movement proper by one degree of separation -- Newman is a senior fellow of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and the FDD's Board of Advisors looks like this: Kristol, Perle, the works.

Anyway, here is the Blitzer interview Wolcott was talking about. It truly is the sort of fear-mongering we haven't seen since those heady days in early 2003 when Osama Bin Laden was all powerful and was apparently holed up on the couch in Saddam Hussein's study:

BLITZER: There's increasing concern about the well-organized terror group known as Hezbollah. Some view it as even more dangerous than Al Qaeda. [ ... ]

NEWMAN: In the United States, all around the world -- in Latin America, in Canada. Last week the head of the CIA and the FBI said to Congress, if Hezbollah wants to, they can strike us anywhere, anytime.

BLITZER: So they have sleeper cells in the United States, is that what you're saying?

NEWMAN: Yes, they have -- we were able to confirm through many sources, you know, nobody hands you a list in law enforcement or intelligence, 14 cities. But we know as of very recently, there were 100 cases open on Hezbollah. They've been here since the '80s.

[ ... ]

BLITZER: Is there any evidence that Hezbollah has ever undertaken a terrorist action inside the United States?

NEWMAN: No, there isn't evidence of that, but there is evidence that they're able to do it if called to do so.

BLITZER: But you disagree?

DIAZ: No, it's not that I disagree; I would just qualify it. There was a point at which there was evidence that there was a Hezbollah team coming in to the United States to assassinate former national security adviser Anthony "Tony" Lake. The government took that so seriously that they moved him from his home into Blair House across from the White House. Now that didn't develop. No such team was ever taken.

But as Barbara points out, the people we talked to, and I don't think frightened is too strong a word, are really concerned that Hezbollah could do something really bad. They did it in Argentina very easily, reached across the ocean, two disastrous bombings in 1992 and 1994. At least one expert I talked to on the Hill said that wasn't only a message to Israel, that's a message to the United States, if we want to do it here, we can do it.

So, you know, Syria pulls out of Lebanon, and let's say you're some country that wants to grab a little Lebanese land. You would need an excuse, of course -- Hey, did you hear that Hezbollah is even more dangerous than al-Qaeda? Just saying...

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