Jun 4, 2012

Grumpy Old Terrorists

While working on The Bad Show, producer Pat Walters ran across some recordings that spooked him--partly because they seemed like they had to be a big joke ... and partly because, at the same time, they sounded so deadly serious. In this short, Jad & Robert try to decide how to feel.

Things can get really murky when you try to fix a clear line between empty threats and concrete criminal plans. And that uncertainty is precisely what makes this story feel so unnerving on the one hand, and weirdly ridiculous on the other.

We begin with Tom Junod, a writer for Esquire, who tells us about a headline story that caught his eye back in November, 2011. As Tom explains, four men had been caught on tape trying to buy explosives to blow up federal office buildings in Atlanta, Georgia. But what struck Tom most wasn't what the men were plotting--it was something unusual about the men themselves: they were senior citizens, all over 60, and they'd been caught after meeting (among other places) at neighborhood chains like Waffle House and Shoney's.

We're left wondering how seriously to take these guys--are they really would-be terrorists, or just trash-talking senior citizens? US Attorney Sally Yates weighs in, and Dina Temple-Raston, counterterrorism correspondent for NPR, tries to help us get our bearings, but in the end, we're left with an unsettling question: does catching men like this really make us feel any safer?

Read more:

Tom Junod's Esquire article "Counter-Terrorism Is Getting Complicated"

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