THE PLANK SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
It's a little weird that there hasn't been more alarm surrounding the apparently major Denver-based terror plot busted up by the feds in the past few days. Last night, ABC News reported that authorities believe Najibullah Zazi's may have co-plotters who are still at large. (The NYDN has reported the same.)
Question #1: Doesn't this seem like something approaching the "ticking time bomb" scenario that constantly bedevils debates about interrogation techniques? How hard are the feds working Zazi for information about possible would-be terrorists inside the U.S. right now? How hard should they be working him? I keep leaning towards one conclusion--then imagining how I would feel about that conclusion if a bomb kills someone I know on the New York subway next week.
Question #2: Zazi apparently went to Pakistan last year for what appears to have been training in bomb-making tactics. How should that affect our thinking about the war in Afghanistan? Matt Yglesias has been reminding people lately that the 9/11 attacks were substantially planned in Hamburg, Germany, and therefore the value of eliminating an al Qaeda haven in the AfPak region may be overstated. It's a good point. But Zazi's trip to Pakistan makes me somewhat less inclined to settle for that argument, although clearly we need to know more about his story.