Glenn Greenwald once again mocks the government for "thwart[ing] its own Terror plot" regarding yesterday's Washington D.C. arrest. But the strange thing is that, after fulminating against the war in Iraq, etc., he notes:
If the FBI's allegations are accurate, then it's clear Ferdaus has become hardened in his hatred; he talks about a willingness to kill American civilians because they have become part of the enemy, and claims that he fantasized about such attacks before the FBI informant spoke to him.
But whatever else is true, it's simply unrealistic in the extreme to expect to run around for a full decade screaming WE ARE AT WAR!! -- and dropping bombs and attacking with drones and shooting up families in multiple Muslim countries (and occupying, interfering in and killing large numbers before that) -- and not produce many Rezwan Ferdauses. In fact, the only surprising thing is that these seem to be so few of them actually willing and able to attack back that -- in order to justify this Endless War on civil liberties (and Terror) -- the FBI has to search for ones they can recruit, convert, convince, fund, and direct to carry out plots.
Now, you can argue about whether the war against al Qaeda or the war in Iraq were good policy decisions. But we can't go back and undo one or the other decision. Given where we are today, and assuming the possibility that those wars predictably radicalized people like Ferdaus, it seems to me that the pertinent question is, did Ferdaus pose enough of a threat to warrant government attention?
Note that with his caveat about accepting for the sake of argument the government's allegations, Greenwald seems to give this away. He acknowledges that Ferdaus sounds dangerous, and willing to kill Americans. Forget about his motivation and just concentrate on the actual danger that he did or did not pose. Shouldn't the government investigate someone with such desires and intentions?
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that someone should be locked up just because they're dangerous or they would like to kill Americans. I am suggesting that perhaps the government should investigate such persons and use legal tools, including possibly undercover sting operations, to test the likelihood of actual criminal conduct.