The media hall of mirrors is manufacturing a "terrorism-case trend" out of an iffy indictment of a clearly disturbed Pennsylvania woman's e-mails, YouTube postings and MySpace page.
Interviewing a Washington Post reporter on the PBS News Hour, Gwen Ifill wonders if "she could have easily just been someone noodling around on the Internet" but is assured that Colleen LaRose, arrested last October for stealing her boyfriend's passport and taking it overseas, was a true terrorist threat, conspiring to assassinate a Danish cartoonist who had offended Muslims.
If so, Ms. LaRose has taken the tactic of "hiding in plain sight" to a new level by launching a plot that could be monitored online by anyone with Internet access, including the Feds.
In a time of shoe bombers and body bombers, it would be foolish to dismiss any bizarre threats, but this week's relatively fact-free indictment raises questions about going public to arouse so much anxiety based on so little.
Jihad Jane stands accused of attempting "to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe" and that she "recruited women on the Internet who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad."
What the legal document omits is that Ms. LaRose, a 46-year-old convert to Islam, has a disordered personal history, culminating in a suicide attempt after her father's death and that her electronic rantings, including fantasies about a Muslim marriage, were amplified by the same sites that encouraged Maj. Nidal Hassan, the psychiatrically impaired Fort Hood shooter.
All good reasons to monitor her activities, but a questionable basis for setting off a public uproar over a new trend involving European-looking women plotting to blow us all up.