On Friday, government officials anonymously claimed that "a rushed examination" of the "trove" of documents and computer files taken from the bin Laden home prove -- contrary to the widely held view that he "had been relegated to an inspirational figure with little role in current and future Qaeda operations" -- that in fact "the chief of Al Qaeda played a direct role for years in plotting terror attacks." Specifically, the Government possesses "a handwritten notebook from February 2010 that discusses tampering with tracks to derail a train on a bridge," and that led "Obama administration officials on Thursday to issue a warning that Al Qaeda last year had considered attacks on American railroads."
If I were the sort of fellow who enjoyed inventing good conspiracy theories, I'd be inclined to suggest that the train "intelligence" is a TSA ruse to get its gropers into train stations, so they have a whole new venue in which to fondle our junk.
The reality, as The New York Times noted deep in its article, was that "the information was both dated and vague," and the official called it merely "aspirational," acknowledging that "there was no evidence the discussion of rail attacks had moved beyond the conceptual stage" In other words, these documents contain little more than a vague expression on the part of Al Qaeda to target railroads in major American cities ("focused on striking Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago," said the Sun-Times): hardly a surprise and -- despite the scary headlines -- hardly constituting any sort of substantial, tangible threat.
But no matter. Even in death, bin Laden continues to serve the valuable role of justifying always-increasing curtailments of liberty and expansions of government power. ... So Al Qaeda breathes the word "trains" and Schumer jumps and demands the creation of a massive, expensive and oppressive new Security State program to keep thousands and thousands of people off trains.
We ought to be using OBL's death as an opportunity to rethink the security state, not using it to justify expanding the role of government in our lives.