Left: Sears Tower, courtesy of CBS News
(Toledo, OH) The news that federal agencies rooted out seven suspected domestic terrorists should have caused me to breathe a sigh of relief. After all, people with plans to create an event "just as good or greater than 9/11" - including the destruction of the Sears Tower in Chicago - must be just the sort of terrorist thugs we want removed from danger, right?
Yet as I sit in my middle class home with my middle class family in the middle-sized city in which we live, I cannot help but wonder if the self-congratulatory words of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez ring hollow.
Are these legitimate terror threats, or a group of morons with delusions of grandeur? Worse still, perhaps these men have been deliberately enticed by foreign terrorists as easily-spotted decoys, drawing attention away from "real" terrorists.
Then, of course, we have the conspiracy theory, in which a government hell-bent on maintaining a state of fear finds suckers who travel a little too close to the zone of zealous criminality, and entraps them in a fuzzily-constructed "plot" to commit domestic acts of terror.
I was also intrigued with the information that the would-be Miami terrorists sought an advance of $50,000 from the government informant who posed as an al-Qaeda operative. I have a nagging suspicion that these "terrorists" might have been trying to shake down al-Qaeda for some fast cash.
These days I no longer know what to believe.
The Miami case bears considerable similarity to the case of the Toledo terror suspects arrested in February this year. Both cases involve a group of men who allegedly talked the game of terrorism, but whose plans did not seem to have progressed beyond rhetoric.
The government trumpets these cases as terror plots "nipped in the bud," and perhaps they are correct. A part of me - the part that has listened to blithering idiots on the next barstool, or nutty coworkers with crazy schemes - wonders if these groups of arrested men truly represented a threat to our nation, or if they were a group of two-bit nobodies talking smack.