Nation Faces Danger of Media Attention to Kerry

Yet another piece of scaremongering about terrorism from the Administration, based on “non-specific intelligence”: CNN.com – Ridge says al Qaeda planning attack. Have you noticed that these announcements happen whenever the Republicans feel they need a bounce in the polls, or when they want a distraction from something? (Today it's the Kerry-Edwards media honeymoon.)

It sure sounds scary…

Al Qaeda plans a large-scale attack on the United States “in an effort to disrupt the democratic process” before November's elections, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Thursday.

…but is it based on anything other than the usual background 'chatter'?…

Ridge cited “recent interdictions” for the new warning. He said U.S. officials have no precise knowledge of the time, place or method of attack, but said they are “actively working to gain that knowledge.”

…it wouldn't be a reastatement of the obvious by any chance?…

“We know they have the capability to succeed and they also hold the mistaken belief that their attacks will have an impact on America's resolve,” Ridge said.

…and of course if this were serious information, we'd raise the national 'threat level' above 'yellow' where it seems stuck…

Ridge did not raise the national color-coded threat level beyond its current yellow, or elevated, level.

…but of course going to 'orange' would cost large sums of money since it requires first responders to go into high gear. No, better save that for the Republican convention…

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5 Responses to Nation Faces Danger of Media Attention to Kerry

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  3. norbizness says:

    Any press conference involving Ridge should include the following question:

    “Isn’t this exactly the same garbage Ashcroft was peddling about two months ago?”

    If he says no, then ask “How is this garbage different?”

  4. abb ok says:

    As Tom Ridge has once agained declared we are under imminent threat (raise threat level or just continued to tell us how much danger we are in), has anyone seen a graph on the internet or newspaper showing what the previous days’s major headline was in NYTIMES, WaPo, WSJ, LaTIMES?

    I don’t have access to something like Lexis Nexis, but I guess I could try using google. In any case, I think this would be a worthwhile endeavor for an enterprising individual/blogger.

    Thoughts?

  5. John Kesley says:

    I have a different theory about these “unspecified threats” they’re discussing. I think the kind of information they’re using to assess the threat is diffuse enough that it can’t really rule much out, and so we’re seeing their prior probabilities (what they thought was likely before they even saw any data). Up until July 4, the obvious terrorist attack to worry about was a bomb or something at some big July 4 rally. After that, the next obvious target date is the election.

    I’m basing this on three things:

    a. There have been a bunch of warnings before major events so far, in the same non-specific vein.

    b. All the sources of this kind of “non-specific” information I can think of are really low-reliability and subject to interpretation. That is, if we had an informant in on an attack, say, we’d know a lot more about the attack that was planned, and we could probably stop it. (I don’t know if the world would ever hear about it, though–maybe the guys who get arrested go to Egypt with a list of questions.) But if we’re trying to vacuum up lots of cellphone conversations and e-mails possibly from marginally suspicious characters, we are probably getting information that doesn’t let us rule anything out, and that lets the person interpreting it apply their own assumptions. (Maybe Tom Ridge just reads his horiscope every day.)

    c. There is a political/bureaucratic advantage in making these non-specific warnings, because if an attack comes, you look like you were doing your job, but if it doesn’t come, it doesn’t cost you much. On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be much security advantage in these warnings. How should I change my behavior as a result of this latest warnings. How should anyone? Will the Secret Service guys protecting Kerry/Edwards and Bush/Cheney become more careful and paranoid than they were before?

    –John

    —–

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