Los Angeles blackout
Since Islamic extremists warned just yesterday that Los Angeles would be the target of their next attack, today's massive power blackout there looks very suspicious. Mere coincidence? Of course, local officials downplayed any link between the mishap and terrorism, but one of their main jobs is to keep people calm. The extremists also threatened Melbourne, Australia.
Is this a job for Special Agent Jack Bauer? Each season of the FOX-TV action series 24 has taken place largely in Los Angeles, which seems strange since the nation's economic and political nerve centers are on the east coast.
There seems little doubt that the ability of Al Qaeda to operate in the United States has been severely curtailed since the post-9/11 security measures were put into place, but no one thinks they are no longer a threat. From a strategic point of view, the big question is whether they seek to keep us jittery and distracted via semi-regular "pin-prick" attacks, or are biding their time until U.S. vigilance begins to wane over the next few years, and then unleash an even worse attack than the one four years ago. As long as our culture remains fixated on the short-term, demanding rapid solutions, we will remain vulnerable to the discretion of Islamic extremists, who will retain a degree of strategic initiative. Reversing that situation is a major reason for the offensive-oriented strategy being pursued by the Bush administration.
UPDATE: Never mind!? It now appears that the entire blackout was triggered by a utility worker who shut off the wrong power line, overloading the local power grid and precipitating a cascade of automatic shutdowns; see CNN.com. Sometimes suspicious coincidences are entirely innocent...