Dopey Terrorists?

The coverage of the Times Square terrorist attempt can't state the obvious because the public would misinterpret it—namely that there's good news in this story and it goes beyond the vigilance and competence of the American authorities.

I'm talking about how pathetic the explosive device was. The materials in the Pathfinder weren't even close to exploding. (The valves on the propane tanks weren't even open, which any backyard-barbecue suburbanite can tell you is a problem.)

If the suspect had been truly homegrown than the amateurish quality of his attempt wouldn't be reassuring because it wouldn't tell us anything about the global terror network. But this guy reportedly claims to have been trained in Pakistan, and he was apparently trained badly—essentially given a shopping list of easy-to-purchase commodities like fertilizer and propane tanks without any apparent instructions on what to do with them.

Obviously we cannot count on the next attempt being so inept. It's only a matter of time before an explosion works. But for now we can be grateful not only that the suspect didn't know how to build a bomb, but that his terrorist handler in Peshawar apparently didn't either.