Plots Aplenty

Via, the AP has a White House-released list of the ten terror plots that President Bush last week claimed to have disrupted since 9/11. One wonders, though, how loosely the White House is using the word “plot,” when something like this appears on the list:

The Jose Padilla Plot: In May 2002, the U.S. disrupted a plot that involved blowing up apartment buildings in the United States. One of the plotters, Jose Padilla, also discussed the possibility of using a “dirty bomb” in the U.S.

As far as I can tell, “a plot that involved blowing up apartment buildings” is an actual crime, one for which there are actual consequences. According to the Justice Department, Padilla allegedly met with senior al-Qaeda leaders and scouted sites that would be bombed by a radioactive “dirty bomb”; yet as District Court Judge Henry Floyd said in March, the government faces “no impediments whatsoever” to trying Padilla on precisely these charges in civilian court. For all I know, Padilla really did do these things, and really is a dangerous guy who deserves prison, but the government certainly hasn’t proved that to anyone, and until that happens, there’s no reason why it should be allowed to tout these arrests as success stories. As the New York Times reports today, Belgian officials are learning how to use the courts to prosecute terrorism and uncover plots, despite the country’s fairly weak domestic intelligence capabilities, and there’s no reason why the U.S. should be unable to do the same.