Today's Blogs

Who’s No. 3?

Bloggers assess doubts that last week’s terror arrest was as significant as reported, respond to Joe Klein’s column about what a Hillary candidacy would mean, and smirk at MIT’s time traveler’s convention.

Who’s No. 3?:The Times of London reported yesterday that Abu Faraj al-Libbi, whose arrest last week was hailed “a critical victory in the war on terror,” might not be al-Qaida’s third in command, as was reported then, “but a middle-ranker derided by one source as ‘among the flotsam and jetsam’ of the organisation.” The paper suggests American officials might have confused al-Libbi with another Libyan, Anas al-Liby, who is wanted for the embassy bombings of 1998.

UCLA junior Ezra Klein isn’t surprised. “[T]his is the story of the War on Terror,” he writes. “We wanted to invade a rogue state with an advanced nuclear weapons program and a history of aiding terrorism, but instead, we hit its orthographical (and geographical) neighbor, Iraq. So Anas al-Liby, Iran—you two sleep easy tonight. America was close enough.”

At liberal Eschaton, guest blogger Attaturk sees the failings of both the president and the press in the al-Libbi story. * “So, the Bush Administration, once again, has falsely trumpeted some event as being a major victory,” he writes. “Our quality press, especially cable news, obediently complied, and after all the chest thumping has been hammered into what little there is of a typical viewer’s memory it turns out to be—a gross overexaggeration.” Though some blame hawkish bias, it wasn’t just conservatives and fellow travelers in the press who were duped, suggests Jeffrey Tucker at “[I]t sure seemed like that NPR reporter going on about this a few days ago knew tons about this guy, as if she had followed his terrorist career for years,” he writes. “She was either making it all up or reading cue cards.”

At Winds of Change, Dan Darling finds the Times report dubious. “No offense,” he writes, “but it’s pretty insulting for these anonymous European officials to assert that our guys can’t tell the difference between two high-ranking al-Qaeda operatives.” Pointing to clear physical differences between the two men, Darling writes it would be “patently absurd” to think U.S. officials might confuse them. But, he adds, “There is also the small point that even if we had [mistaken the men], it still wouldn’t have led to mischaracterizations of al-Libbi as the al-Qaeda third-in-command, since Anas al-Liby, while an important member of the group’s ruling council, is not himself that high up in the pecking order.” Darling thinks that Saif al-Adel is the real No. 3 and assembles a catalog of links to bolster his argument.

Whatever al-Libbi’s actual position, some bloggers see progress in his arrest. At Section 15, Mark Francis writes that “middle-level people tend to know a lot of minutiae about how organizations operate. And, in fairness, the man is apparently connected to some terrorist acts and to an attempt to assassinate the President of Pakistan.”

Read more about the Times report here.

Hillary in 200-never!: In a Time column, Joe Klein discourages Hillary Clinton from running for president in 2008. “It will take a brilliant politician to create a credible feminine presidential style,” he writes. “So far, Senator Clinton hasn’t shown the ease or creativity necessary to break the ultimate glass ceiling.”

Syndicated conservative radio host Neal Boortz agrees that “a presidential candidacy for The Hildabeast would be a disaster”—for Democrats. “It would be the perfect ticket for the Republicans,” he writes. Other conservatives agree. “If you thought this most recent election was polarized, than just fasten down the hatches and lock the doors come ‘08, for if she does receive the nomination feverish armies in support and opposition to her will immediately mobilize,” predictsYoung Conservative Geoff Smock. “I believe she will be hardpressed to convince enough moderate to conservative voters to cast their ballot for her on election day.” At Brainster’s Blog, Pat, a Republican, thinks nothing can stop Hillary. “Write it in stone. Hillary’s running and she will get the nomination.”

Read more about Klein’s column.

Meet me in 2005: The country’s first time-travel convention came and went this weekend without any confirmed appearances of time travelers. The convention, organized by MIT grad student Amal Dorai, had been designed to draw travelers from all points past and future to the University’s East Campus dormitory.

“By the end of the party, the only confirmed time travelers were Dorai’s purple leisure suit and zebra-stripe shirt,” quips Manish Vij at Sepia Mutiny. Some bloggers don’t quite see the humor. “A Time Travelers Convention. What?!” wailsRandiKay. “There’s an energy crisis, genocide in Sudan, globalizing threat from China, AIDS, cancer, political unrest … why don’t they use their time, and mediocre genius to figure those things out.” But one believer at Geek News Central thinks the convention wasn’t a waste—and that at least one time traveler might have been turned away.

Read more blog posts about the convention.

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Correction, May 10: This article originally attributed this post to blogger Atrios. In fact, the post was written by Attaturk, writing on Atrios’ blog Eschaton.(Return to the corrected sentence.)