MARTY RUSSELL: Terrorists look to Wall Street – for pointers

By Marty Russell

I don’t know what all the uproar is over the recently disclosed government spying on our phones and Internet usage. The program is a vestige of the Bush administration, which all good conservatives loved, continued by the Obama administration, which all the liberals love, so what’s the problem?
After all, unless you’re a terrorist what does it matter? I’d hate to be the 20-something-year-old high school dropout who has to monitor my phone and Internet usage.
“What’s Russell up to?”
“Well, he’s been on hold with the cable company for about two hours now, meanwhile he’s surfing the Internet for pictures of Angelina Jolie and Digital Elevation Maps of a site on Mars. Think he’s planning on launching an attack from there?”
“Not in this century. Let me know if he finds any good pictures of Jolie.”
I’m not really sure who we’re actually trying to protect ourselves against anymore anyway. Al Qaeda appears to have succumbed to that terrible disease that afflicts all would-be ruling authorities – bureaucracy – which means they’re probably now incapable of organizing a company picnic, let alone a large-scale terrorist attack.
The British newspaper the Telegraph reported earlier this month that al Qaeda has actually established a complaints department, the first sign that the organization is doomed. The paper also reported that a senior al Qaeda official was recently reprimanded for not filing his expense reports on time and not answering his phone. Can the end of the organization’s effectiveness be far away?
According to the report, al Qaeda’s top brass established a complaints department stating that, “the complaint should be in writing, provide details and give evidence.”
Well, I don’t think anyone would want to complain to them in person but I can see some of the written complaints now.
“My suicide vest is too tight. It’s chafing my back. I asked for an extra large.”
Or, “I requisitioned 100 box cutters and an underwear bomb and all I got was a case of M&Ms and some women’s panties. And all the M&Ms were green. I hate green M&Ms!”
Or maybe, “I thought the deduction in my paycheck was for a 401K retirement plan. You didn’t tell me I was investing in 401 kilos of high-grade explosives.”
To further illustrate al Qaeda’s decline into just another bureaucracy that attempts to micromanage every aspect of its operations, the Telegraph also reports that it tried to ban smoking and failed. It appears al Qaeda associates, as I assume they’re now referred to, aren’t willing to give up smoking but are willing to blow themselves up for the company because, at least then, they’ll go out smoking.
So I don’t see the real threat from terrorists groups like al Qaeda now that they’ve gotten themselves an organizational chart, established company policies, put up a suggestion box and probably even approved casual Fridays.
As someone once said, “Any sufficiently advanced bureaucracy is indistinguishable from molasses.”
MARTY RUSSELL writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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