The Tunnel of Fear
By Tim Dickinson
Friday 07 July 2006
It's hard to know what to make of the FBI's reported disruption of a plot to blow up the Holland Tunnel. But the timing of the leak -- and its intended political impact -- is indisputable.
Maybe this was a credible threat. Maybe it was a lot of hot air seethed in an Internet forum. (By the way, was anyone else disturbed to discover that when the FBI talks about picking up terrorist "chatter," it's literally coming from Jihadi chat rooms?!) Whatever the case, we should applaud the capture of Amir Andalousli in Lebanon. One less Osama wannabe on the streets of Beirut isn't a bad thing.
But let's examine the alleged plot: As reported by the Daily News, Andalousi wanted to drown lower Manhattan by detonating a bomb in the Holland Tunnel. (UPDATE: The specific targeting of the Holland Tunnel is now in dispute.) OK, first: The physics are impossible. Worst case scenario: The tunnel floods. Water in the tube isn't going to magically spout out the mouth and make Wall Street look like the Lower 9th Ward. Even the directors of that Stallone Holland Tunnel epic Daylight would have found that plot device implausible. So shame on the Daily News for fearmongering with its coverline: "Gang sought to flood downtown."
Now let's turn to the timing. Here's the most important line in the piece:
FBI and New York City Police Department officials would not comment about the investigation, which has been kept under wraps for months.
In other words, this is old news . . . of an incipient plot . . . that was defused before it left the chat room. [UPDATE: ABC's The Blotter reports that Andalousi has been in custody for roughly three months, since April.]
So why did someone leak it to a tabloid for publication on today of all days? Consider: Today is the one-year anniversary of the July 7 bombings in London. It also marks four months to the day from November's mid-term elections.
Karl Rove & Co. are, once again, playing the Fear Card in an election year. Anyone who doubts that simply hasn't been paying attention for the last five years.
UPDATE: CBS and an ex-CIA spook question the seriousness of the plot.