Bloggers turn skeptical on the London terror plot.

Bloggers turn skeptical on the London terror plot.

Bloggers turn skeptical on the London terror plot.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Aug. 17 2006 6:10 PM

Plot or Ploy?

Bloggers are abuzz about accusations that the U.K. terror plot wasn't all it was cracked up to be. They also discuss the arrest of JonBenet Ramsey's confessed murderer, and the release of the instant cult classic Snakes on a Plane.

Plot or ploy? With no charges filed yet against the London terror suspects and reports of a conflict between the United States and Britain, some prominent bloggers are questioning whether the attack was imminent. Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, claims the plan was "more propaganda than plot." Conservative Andrew Sullivan wonders if the arrests were meant to distract from the primary defeat of Sen. Joe Lieberman and the revival of Shiite fundamentalism in Lebanon and Iraq. "I wish I didn't find these questions popping into my head," Sullivan writes. "But the alternative is to trust the Bush administration." Sullivan links to breaking developments and writes, "Still, there's little doubt that there was a serious plot in the works." But he cautions against hyperbolizing the story by saying an attack was "imminent."

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John Podhoretz, writing for the National Review's The Corner, credits the eagerness to discredit the announcement to Sullivan's vehement opposition to torture. If the plot was real, and it was unveiled by torture, Podhoretz says, "Sullivan's passionate project over the past two-and-a-half years to declare torture everywhere, at every moment, and in every circumstance unacceptable goes up in smoke."

Other righties find Sullivan's conclusion implausible. "Andrew appears to be leaning toward the position that the whole thing was a bit of cynical political theater—a thesis that would require Bush to control Tony Blair, the British press, and MI5," writes short-story author Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom. Conservative hawk Ace of Ace of Spades HQ cites a Daily Mail article claiming that British police have found liquid explosives and detonators related to the case. "Seems like the Brits have gone to great lengths to frame these guys just to make sure an American Senator they've barely ever heard of wins in a campaign he was already likely to prevail in, doesn't it?" Ace asks.

The liberal blog reaction is mixed. Steve Benen of The Carpetbagger Report is looking for answers. "The original story now appears significantly weaker than it did a week ago," he says, "this, it's incumbent upon officials to explain whether, and to what extent, this was a serious plot at all." Ennis, writing at the Indian-American group blog Sepia Mutiny, shares Sullivan's appetite for skepticism. "America was founded on the premise that citizens should not trust their government too much," he writes, "and I, as an American have a healthy skepticism concerning what any administration tells me."

Other liberal blogs are cautious about drawing conclusions. "I'm not ready to say the London bomb plot is another bamboozlement," blog mogul Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo states, but "there are real grounds to question whether Bush and Blair jumped the gun for reasons other than counter-terrorism." Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly demands one thing: "Bush and Blair better be purer than Caesar's wife on this one."

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Read more about the London terror plot. In Slate, Daniel Benjamin compares  the London terror plot to the Bojinka plot of 1994-95. And William Saletan offers tips for surviving in the age of terror.

Little Miss Sunshine: John Mark Karr has been arrested in Thailand for killing JonBenet Ramsey 10 years ago. While he stated that Ramsey "died accidentally," when asked if he was innocent Karr responded, "No."

Most bloggers are sympathizing with Ramsey's parents, who had been prime suspects in the case. "Could one imagine what it must have been like for her parents to live with the horrible stigma of killing one of their children?" ponders controversial economist and gun crime scholar John Lott. Poet Belle Waring of the husband-wife collaboration John & Belle Have a Blog is regretting her belief in the Ramsey's guilt. "Boy was I ever wrong for listening to the incompetent police department and prosecutor, and I must have been influenced by all the general media accusations too," she writes.

Bull Dog Pundit of the righty blog Ankle Biting Pundits suggests that Karr has the "look" of a sexual predator. "The best way I can describe it is a look of vacancy in the eyes and face, as if they're minds a million miles away," he elaborates. Objectivist Chip Gibbons of The Binary Circumstance also believes there to be a sexual component, and thinks it extends beyond just Karr. "Had so many adults not had sexualized fantasies about JonBenet," he continues, "she might still be alive today."

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Composer Jeffrey Quick of The Quick and the dead thinks the whole story's overblown. "Look, murdering a child is horrible. But it happens every day, in every state in the Union," he reasons, "It just doesn't happen so often to cute white girls. What's the obsession anyway?"

Read more about JonBenet Ramsey. In Slate, Dahlia Lithwick says the Ramseys finally won a battle with the press, and Jack Shafer says the media shouldn't apologize for their previous coverage.

The greatest story ever told: Snakes on a Plane, an action thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson that became an Internet sensation months ago, is finally coming to theaters. The film will not be shown to critics before the release.

Bloggers are divided about the film. Woody Numbers hails its "epic story of Snakes being on a plane," while Katie of It Really Is Hard to be a Quasi-Genius is confident that the film will be "a million times better" than Snakes on a Train, a ripoff that was released on DVD Tuesday. Brian Chin, writing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Buzzworthy blog, links to a P-I's critic's argument for why SoaP's strategy of not giving advance screenings to critics is actually good for the movie industry.

Meanwhile, the film has its detractors as well. At Filmrot.com, wyverex declares himself "sick of this movie already" and says he doesn't "understand why everyone in the blogosphere is so hot for it." But even Jeffrey Radcliffe of Tinctoris, who is "taking a pass on" the film because he is "not a big fan of movies of the 'what's lurking in the closet/behind the stairs/in the basement' variety," claims he has "nothing but reverence for the marketing team behind it."

Read more about Snakes on a Plane. Watch Samuel L. Jackson's appearance on The Dailiy Show promoting the film.