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||IRAQ DISTRACT! Worthless experts debate the sniperand Iraq quickly gets a back seat:|
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2002
CONDIT II: Does the Bush Admin have a plan for life-after-war in Iraq? In todays Post, Gore aide Leon Fuerth offers a list of potential problems. With that column as our cue, here are a pair of obvious questions which ought to be driving our current news chat. For the record, David Von Drehle included these queries in his recent, well-composed list (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/8/02):
The press should be limning those questions daily. Instead, the Washington sniper has hijacked our discourse, and our public discussions are back in the hands of the collection of losers, flunkies and know-nothings who led us up to September 11 with their mindless Gary Condit debate.
- Is there some sort some of inspection regime that would successfully regulate Iraqi weapon development?
- How would the U.S. deal with the aftermath of a war in Iraq?
The human mind is very weak. If you doubt that, watch these experts kill endless time as they worthlessly muse on these killings.
HUMAN, ALL TOO SUBHUMAN: How worthless can expert opinion be? In this mornings Post, Priest and Masters review the pensees of our counter-terrorism experts. At one point, the savants are said to say this:
PRIEST AND MASTERS: [T]he most concrete similarity between the sniper operation and those of al Qaeda, experts said, appears to be the meticulous planning associated with the Washington area killings. To be able to escape the dragnet that has descended after each of the more recent shootings, the gunman has probably planned well ahead of time his shooting location, escape route and way to hide.
The sniper had to understand the capabilities and limitations of law enforcement? Really! In the case of his latest killing, how did he showcase this vast understanding? Simplehe got in his car and he drove away! This fiendish technique would occur to anyone. But according to Priest and Masters, this is citedby counter-terrorism expertsas a sign that the savvy Washington sniper just may be linked to al Qaeda!
Likewise, to be successful, he had to understand the capabilities and limitations of law enforcement tactics and equipment. Documents seized from training camps in Afghanistan and from the al Qaeda safe houses around the world indicate that individuals learned military techniques and doctrine and were familiar with their enemies tactics.
Driving away would occur to anyone. But in the New York Times, Clines second-hand quotes an FBI agent who is stunned by the brilliant scheme too:
CLINES: One difference this time was the added touch of cruelty of shooting Ms. Franklin as her husband was a step away, unseeing and powerless to help
Did a gumshoe really say this? We dont have a clue. But such drivel endlessly clogs our discourse. Indeed, Maureen Dowd was also stunned by the shooters sagacity. As usual, Dowd makes it sound like police authorities have been complete, absolute dopes:
There she was, the poor woman, her body right there, said Zuhair Massoud, a 50-year-old businessman who emerged from the Home Depot a minute or two after Ms. Franklin was cut down.
When the F.B.I. agent questioned me later, Mr. Massoud recounted, He told me: This guys gone already. Hes very good. He knows what hes doing.
DOWD: The sniper has outsmarted the police. It takes just one minute for him to pull the trigger, once, and then hit the exit ramp and vanish. On Monday night it took the police 20 minutes to set up roadblocks on all the main highways in Virginia, causing gridlock for hours. But by then the sniper was probably already at home, savoring it all on TV.
The police cant be everywhere at all times? To Dowd, that means theyve been outsmarted.
Stop us before we cut-and-paste more. Sadly, Bo Dietl and Clint Van Zandt are back at the center of our discourse, offering hours of vacuous comment. Many of these worthless pundits disgraced themselves in the Condit Caper. Now they waste our time again with their drivel. And Iraq? Thank goodness! Forgotten.
ID LIKE A SECOND SPECULATION: Our experts rarely show any sign of knowing what theyre talking about. And they rarely seem to know they dont know. As a result, if you dont like one expert speculation, theres always another speculation to choose from. In todays Times, Jeffrey Gettleman spoke to three members of cables crystal-ball generation:
GETTLEMAN: From the same distressingly meager set of clues, there are three radically different portraits, underscoring the reality that no one seemed really to know who the gunman is.Try to believe that Fox really said thatand that it stamps him as an expert in the hall or mirrors now run on TV. But congrats to Gettleman for suggesting what few will saythese people rarely seem to know what theyre talking about. Later in his article, Gettleman quoted forensic psychologist Reid Molly. Ultimately, its tips that solve these crimes, not profilers, Molloy says. After watching the Dietls and the Van Zandts ramble on, do you find that even slightly surprising?
First, there is the aggressive hunter. I dont see this guy as wimpy, said Candice DeLong, a former profiler for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who worked on the Unabomber case. I see him all into this stealth ninja stuff, walking around with a swagger, used to bossing people around, maybe a fireman or construction worker. Hes out to prove to somebodyand they know who they arethat hes the best damn sniper in the world.
And he is getting bolder, Mrs. DeLong said. On Monday night, a woman standing right next to her husband was shot dead outside a bustling Home Depot. It was the ninth killing.
Richard Dietl, a retired New York City police detective and security executive, espouses a different profile: adolescents who have joined together, Columbine-style, to wreak havoc on the world.
A game, thats what this is, a sick game, Mr. Dietl said today. Theres probably two skinny kids out there who have made a pact with each other. Theyre shooting bodies and getting away, shooting bodies and getting away. They dont want to confront anybody face to face.
Finally, there is the most familiar type: the icy loner. James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, said most serial killers are lonely white men in their 30s.
It sounds cliché, but its usually true, Dr. Fox said. And in this case, were seeing typical commando behavior. Its probably some introverted guy living by himself, working by himself, living out the ultimate fantasy. This is his battle, his war, and hes the colonel now.
Many experts think there is only one gunman, not two, despite some witness reports that the gunman may have had a driver.
The card said I am God, not We are God, Dr. Fox said, referring to one of the few concrete clues in the case, a tarot card left in the woods near one of the shootings.
THE ONE THING THEY WONT WASTE OUR TIME ON: Dowd always knows where to take it. In todays piece, she instantly starts to mind-read pols motives. And its immutable Pundit Lawthose motives must always be naughty:
DOWD: Some freak has been driving around the Washington suburbs in a van popping people for two weeks and we still dont know much of anything.
Its the law with this vacuous pundit; Warner, Townsend, Dems and Bush must all be said to have bad motives. And what are the merits of their proposals? Dowd, safe at home, wont disclose.
We know that Virginias governor, Mark Warner, is bucking to be the Rudy Giuliani of the crisis; Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is trying to capitalize on her personal history with tragic gun killings to save her limp gubernatorial bid; Democrats in Congress tried to capitalize by rushing to pass a small-bore gun control measure that was going to pass anyway; President Bush and the G.O.P. are still taking dictation from the N.R.A.