Once again, nothing to see here.
An alleged plot to blow up fuel tanks and pipelines at New York's JFK airport had little chance of success, according to safety experts, who have questioned whether the plot ever posed a real threat.According to the experts, the most the plotter could have hoped for was a fire and maybe a contained explosion; certainly not the total destruction of the airport and surrounding areas. The plotters simply didn't have the explosives, the financing or the expertise to pull off anything close to what they had envisioned.
Apparently, that means the story shouldn't have been reported to the extent that it was (wall-to-wall all day coverage).
Neal Sonnett, a former federal prosecutor, told the New York Times there was also a danger in overstating how serious or sophisticated a plot really was.
"There unfortunately has been a tendency to shout too loudly about such cases," he said. "To the extent that you over-hype a case, you create fear and paranoia," he said.
The New York Times on Sunday pointedly avoided giving much coverage to the alleged plot, devoting only a brief on its front page continued on the local section, despite the story breaking in the early afternoon on Saturday.
So, what's the solution? Bury the story on page 37 like the Times did, pooh poohing the whole thing as another exercise in fear-mongering? Were the plotters going to be successful in causing the carnage they desired? Probably not. Should we report that fact honestly? Sure, why not? But, at the same time, let's not overlook the other aspect of the story, which is that certain people are actively trying to think of new and exciting ways to kill a lot of Americans! Just because they didn't succeed doesn't mean they didn't try. More than likely, they will try again. If we're lucky, all we'll ever get are these Keystone Cop jihadists and nothing will ever come to pass. But eventually, one of them is going to come up with a plan that will work. Maybe there will come a time when these homegrown terrorists opt for small, totally doable acts of terrorism rather than shooting for some huge disaster with a high body count.
Reporting on these failed attempts may create fear and/or paranoia in some, but it may also create a heightened state of vigilence, which is certainly a good thing.