May 21, 2002
9:50 AM   Subscribe

I had trouble sleeping Saturday night because of a CNN story suggesting that "increased level of chatter and activity" indicated that "another al Qaeda terrorist operation could be in the works." The "warnings" have been coming ever since: Cheney said Sunday that future attacks were "almost a certainty" and FBI director Robert Mueller stated "we will not be able to stop it", with Ridge and Rumsfeld spinning similar tales today. Is there a new threat? Ridge hasn't changed the nation's security alert from "yellow," and AP reported today that "a top White House aide said last week's criticism prompted a two-pronged political response: Bush accused Democrats of playing politics with the issue as his advisers reminded voters that America is still a target."
posted by tranquileye (57 comments total)

 
An obvious attempt to change the subject. By not following up on the memo from Phoenix, the FBI fucked up. Bush needs to take responsibility for that.
posted by luser at 10:04 AM on May 21, 2002


Why lose sleep over it? Sure, there is a legitimate threat--we've known that since Sept. 11. It's not going to disappear overnight. But the Bush administration is clearly timing its announcements and activities in such a way as to manipulate the public through its fear and uncertaintly. Refuse to play that game, or you play right into their hands. What will happen will happen. We can hope that someone, somewhere, is taking what precautions can realistically and usefully be taken, but we can't really know whether they are or aren't.
posted by rushmc at 10:11 AM on May 21, 2002


Talking Points Memo also noted that there are certain political advantages Bush & Co. might gain by deflecting the most recent hot topic.

To be fair, it is more important to prevent the next terrorist attack than to decide who's to blame for the last one. But it's not clear that that's what the Republicans are even saying -- they seem to be saying, don't even think about it at all.

We should be thinking about both the (very real) possibility of future attacks, and the factors that allowed the previous one to succeed.
posted by mattpfeff at 10:11 AM on May 21, 2002


Tranquileye, don't lose sleep. Despite September 11th, the chances of anything happening to you or your loved ones are still slim. Government employees are prone to exaggeration and if they keep you afraid, they keep you malleable. I have every faith you'll be fine.
posted by skylar at 10:14 AM on May 21, 2002


I have every faith you'll be fine.
but the question is, will the republic be safe? rarely has it faced an enemy as loathesome as the bush administration.
posted by quonsar at 10:18 AM on May 21, 2002


By not following up on the memo from Phoenix, the FBI fucked up.

I'm not ready to jump to this conclusion. I haven't seen enough information to rule out the following explanations:

1. There are dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of similarly toned warnings each year about various threats to the US all having the same level of urgency and detail. This one was, rightfully, given a relatively low priority as a result.

OR

2. This warning was taken seriously but did not offer enough concrete "cause" upon which to base search/arrest warrants in advance of an actual crime being committed. Keep in mind, before 9/11, the FBI was getting chastised every other week for some perceived rights violation or another. (recall Waco, etc...) Now we're chastising them for being too careful about people's rights in responding to potential threats?
posted by plaino at 10:19 AM on May 21, 2002


I used to live in Manila, my life overshadowed by the daily risks of bombings, kidnappings, muggings, pollution of virtually every kind but radioactive, and riots born from political instability. But I slept quite well. And today in Washington, DC, I continue to sleep well.

(*sniff, sniff* Hey, is that anthrax in the air?)
posted by brownpau at 10:21 AM on May 21, 2002


Why lose sleep over it? Sure, there is a legitimate threat--we've known that since Sept. 11.

It was understood well before Sept. 11 that the rules of warfare had changed dramatically. Terrorist attacks like this had been theorized about since the 70s. I'm suprised, and actually impressed by US intelligence, that it had never happened here earlier. As for the slip up and the change of subject, yes, I agree. The recent report of suicide bombers in the US is another case of misdirection.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:24 AM on May 21, 2002


Does the Bush administration believe that a fearful public is an obedient public?
posted by Holden at 10:28 AM on May 21, 2002


people have real trouble with probabilities, especially really small probabilities of really spectacular events.

given that ~3K people died in the trade towers and ~40K people died in highway accidents over the past year, it's reasonable to conclude that your odds of dying in a traffic accident or some other similar non-spectacular situtation are a whole order of magnitude higher than your dying in a terrorist attack. your odds of dying in a terrorist attack might be a little higher if you live in NYC or DC, but generally it's extremely remote.

in 1996, 3,206 people (about the same as died in the WTC disaster) choked to death, 732 people were struck by falling objects, 330 people drowned in their bathtubs and 23 people died from dog bites.

your odds of dying in a terrorist attack are the same order of magnitude as your choking to death. do you stay up late nights worrying about that?
posted by muppetboy at 10:30 AM on May 21, 2002


An obvious attempt to change the subject. By not following up on the memo from Phoenix, the FBI fucked up. Bush needs to take responsibility for that.

But the subject itself is an "obvious attempt" by Democrats to try to figure out how to start making inroads into Bush's frustratingly strong popularity. In reality there are floods of intelligence reports coming in daily. It is very easy - after the fact - to isolate a couple out of thousands and say "he should have known", which implies he could have somehow stopped it.

It's fine to accuse Bush of playing politics. But all he is doing is returning the political ball that Democrats started in motion. Any attempt to portray this as as a situation with virtuous, selfless Democrats thinking only of the American people with no intent to try to try to create a political fiasco that embarrasses Bush is disingenuous to say the least.

The truth of the matter is probably along the lines of what Ridge and Rumsfeld are saying. (Saying they are "spinning tales" is itself an attempt to "spin"). Fact is we are still a target. And that despite the fact that after 9/11 there is greatly increased scrutiny, it is quite likely that there will be future attacks, and we will not be able to stop them.

This will remain true no matter who is President, and how seriously the FBI takes things. So long as we have an open society with extremely permeable borders, and there are people willing to commit suicide for "the cause", things are going to blow up. The UK could not stop the IRA. Israel cannot stop Palestinians (and both of those nations have quite sophisticated intelligence systems protecting much smaller countries).

I have no doubt that 'a top White House aide said last week's criticism prompted a two-pronged political response: Bush accused Democrats of playing politics with the issue as his advisers reminded voters that America is still a target." It's a good response.

The Democrats are playing politics, and America is still a target.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:38 AM on May 21, 2002


If I lived in NYC or DC I'd be very worried. Since 911, it's been revealed that if you take out congress or the executive branch, there is no backup, and the country goes into chaos. It's also now known that if you take out even a little part of downtown Manhattan, you can cripple the U.S. economy. Despite these facts now being common knowledge, no one is moving to spread vital functions and institutions out of either of these cities. This country is so vulnerable right now, it shivers my timbers.
posted by Faze at 10:38 AM on May 21, 2002


also discussed here.
posted by quonsar at 10:39 AM on May 21, 2002


your odds of dying in a terrorist attack might be a little higher if you live in NYC or DC, but generally it's extremely remote

Uh-oh, I live in NY, and continue to live my life in blissful ignorance of any future attacks. I ride through the Holland Tunnel every morning, wander through Times Square for lunch daily, and visit friends in high rise apartments regularly.

The ever present fear of being hit by a wayward cabbie, being pushed onto the subway tracks, dying from a malicious hot-dog or stabbed for my lunch money cloud out all terrorist fears.

I wonder how many Americans still don't wear a seatbelt but own Cipro?
posted by remlapm at 10:43 AM on May 21, 2002


If terrorism is not only the act of violence itself, but the constant, opressive perpetuation of the threat, then what does that make Cheney, Ashcroft et al?
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:44 AM on May 21, 2002


Does the Bush administration believe that a fearful public is an obedient public?

I don't know. Do Democrats think that implying that Bush and the FBI could have stopped the attacks makes the country safer?
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:44 AM on May 21, 2002


I'm thinking it's a good time to post this CNN parody. Or is it a parody?
posted by GaelFC at 10:45 AM on May 21, 2002


Its less about about dying, than about living and thinking one can wake up one sunny morning to discover one's entire and most cherished world (family, friends) has been annihilated.

PS Tonight's sweet dreams
posted by Voyageman at 10:46 AM on May 21, 2002


Plaino your explanations would work if it were not for the level of detail of the warning.

Suspected Al-qaida operatives training to fly jumbo jets in the United States.

Even before 9/11 this should have set off alarms. After all who wants a hijacking? Administration officials obviously didn't want to be part of one since they were forewarned of the risks and no longer flying commercial. Yet they apparently did little to nothing to protect joe public from people they had every reason to believe were training to hijack a plane!

What level detail would they need in a warning to catch a terrorist? A black hat, a pointy nose, and a round bomb with a lit fuse?
posted by srboisvert at 10:46 AM on May 21, 2002


It's fine to accuse Bush of playing politics. But all he is doing is returning the political ball that Democrats started in motion. Any attempt to portray this as as a situation with virtuous, selfless Democrats thinking only of the American people with no intent to try to try to create a political fiasco that embarrasses Bush is disingenuous to say the least.

who cares who started the political ball in motion? i have no doubt in my mind republicans would have done the same. in fact, to single out a party seems misleading; this is a game of pure politics, not of sides at all. i think stressing over parties in these matters is a waste of energy, but to each their own hobbies, i suppose.
posted by moz at 10:52 AM on May 21, 2002


If terrorism is not only the act of violence itself, but the constant, opressive perpetuation of the threat, then what does that make Cheney, Ashcroft et al?

It makes them people who are responding to Democrats, who apparently have no qualms about attempting to shift blame from the terrorists themselves to Bush and the FBI for their own partisan purposes.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:54 AM on May 21, 2002


I don't think Midas likes democrats.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:57 AM on May 21, 2002


It's fine to accuse Bush of playing politics. But all he is doing is returning the political ball that Democrats started in motion.

No, Bush has been exploiting 9/11 as a political opportunity since before the fires were doused at Ground Zero, using the tragedy to wrap a flag around his partisan agenda. It's understandable why he did this, even if it was/is extremely tawdry, but it makes his accusations of Democrats "playing politics" completely laughable.

Any attempt to portray this as as a situation with virtuous, selfless Democrats thinking only of the American people with no intent to try to try to create a political fiasco that embarrasses Bush is disingenuous to say the least.

As are assertions that "all [Bush] is doing is returning the political ball that Democrats started in motion". No question about it: Bush served this ball.

Are the Dems using the new allegations as a political weapon? Of course. They’d be stupid not to. But the Bush Gang have been pimping out the meaning of 9/11 to serve their own political ends since 9/12 .
posted by Ty Webb at 10:58 AM on May 21, 2002


It's fine to accuse Bush of playing politics. But all he is doing is returning the political ball that Democrats started in motion.

No, Bush has been exploiting 9/11 as a political opportunity since before the fires were doused at Ground Zero, using the tragedy to wrap a flag around his partisan agenda. It's understandable why he did this, even if it was/is extremely tawdry, but it makes his accusations of Democrats "playing politics" completely laughable.

Any attempt to portray this as as a situation with virtuous, selfless Democrats thinking only of the American people with no intent to try to try to create a political fiasco that embarrasses Bush is disingenuous to say the least.

As are assertions that "all [Bush] is doing is returning the political ball that Democrats started in motion". No question about it: Bush served this ball.

Are the Dems using the new allegations as a political weapon? Of course. They’d be stupid not to. But the Bush Gang have been pimping out the meaning of 9/11 to serve their own political ends since 9/12 .
posted by Ty Webb at 10:58 AM on May 21, 2002


Do Democrats think that implying that Bush and the FBI could have stopped the attacks makes the country safer?

Why shouldn't it, if the examination of the issue shows us what we've done wrong in the past and what we can improve for the future? What's been said about the hundreds of vague warnings and 20/20 hindsight is certainly true. But some of those warnings were fairly specific, I want to know why more wasn't done....
posted by jalexei at 11:05 AM on May 21, 2002


The reason I would worry about a terrorist attack compared to other things which are as likely statistically, if I were the worrying type, is that there is much less I can do to prevent them or to safeguard myself. It is fairly simple for you to proactively reduce your risk of highway death yourself, compared to avoiding a terrorist attack. I guess you could move away from New York.
posted by donkeymon at 11:10 AM on May 21, 2002


Politics aside (not that that's actually possible), I don't see anything wrong with finding out why past terrorism threats weren't assessed correctly. If a plane crashes, a detailed investigation occurs, so that the cause can be found and similar accidents can be prevented. Intelligence and security crashes should be handled in the same manner.

If the democrats have any sense, they'll attempt to make this as nonpartisan as possible. A Whitewater-style witch hunt would blow up in their faces.
posted by groundhog at 11:15 AM on May 21, 2002


Looking ahead, I'm worried that this threat may be around for a very long time. As I see it, where there's a will there's a way, and the will to attack us is being nurtured on a massive scale. As I understand it, across the Islamic world from Nigeria to Pakistan, a generation of impoverished children in madrasas are being taught that it is their religious duty to hate the U.S. I'm afraid that this will sustain the real threat of Islamic extremist terrorism for several decades. This is why I think the biggest threat to our long-term security are actually our so-called friends in Saudi Arabia, who, from everything I read and hear, fund most of the madrasas. I worry that by letting them off the hook Bush is failing to take the next necessary step in the war on terrorism and is allowing the long-term danger to become worse. But I hope my analysis of the situation is wrong.
posted by homunculus at 11:17 AM on May 21, 2002


250 million people living a relatively libertarian lifestyle in a country the size of the US makes it virtually impossible to stop terrrorists. Plain and simple.

Are the dems playing football with this issue? What else are they gonna do under the current political climate. Is Bush really that popular? Of course not.

Citizens are so concerned by all this, that scrutinizing the current administration in any way like the game was played against the Clinton admin seems to be obviously against everyone's interest in getting things secure again.
posted by BentPenguin at 11:17 AM on May 21, 2002


It's a Bum Rap
posted by revbrian at 11:20 AM on May 21, 2002


What level detail would they need in a warning to catch a terrorist? A black hat, a pointy nose, and a round bomb with a lit fuse?

It isn't the level of detail that's lacking. It's that pesky constitution of ours that keeps getting in the way. Afterall, your question implies that you are disappointed we didn't arrest these people before they committed a crime. Should it be a crime to be suspected of planning a crime? That scares me more than terrorists, to be honest.

No matter how clear it is now what they were doing, there was little we could do before the event without trampling on civil rights. (BTW these are the same rights which make up the society we're trying to protect)

Can you imagine the uproar (pre 9/11) that would have heppened if the FBI arrested/harrassed a bunch of people based on the fact they were muslims taking flying lessons? I'm sure it would have spawned more than a few MeFi threads about how Bush and co. are trampling all over civil rights and "Has Bush ever read the constitution..?" comments.
posted by plaino at 11:24 AM on May 21, 2002


How is this really any different than having spent half a century living with the knowledge of (and/or fear of) there being a hair-trigger on total nuclear annihilation?

Personally, I always found that prospect pretty worrying, much more so than worrying about the relatively small and isolated damage that a terrorist (or even a group of terrorists) could manage. I'd much rather terrorists blow up even a whole handful of buildings than have ICBMs on the way. My chances of survival are a lot better this way.

Security is a state of mind.
posted by briank at 11:34 AM on May 21, 2002


srboisvert: What level detail would they need in a warning to catch a terrorist?

What do you suggest they should have done? Unless I'm mistaken, none of the flight students discussed in the FBI memo actually ended up on the 9/11 planes, so the level of detail they had seems irrelevant (unless they had dates and flight numbers, obviously). There are "credible" threats against the US every day, and there have been for years. How could they have averted the attacks? Close all US airspace? Implement the higher commercial aviation security practices brought in since 9/11 (if people complain about them now, imagine how they'd have complained before)?
posted by biscotti at 11:36 AM on May 21, 2002


"Should it be a crime to be suspected of planning a crime?"

A moot question. It is a crime.

US Criminal Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113B, Sec. 2332b(a)(2). : "Treatment of threats, attempts and conspiracies. -

Whoever threatens to commit an offense under paragraph (1), or attempts or conspires to do so*, shall be punished under subsection (c). "


*emphasis mine
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:43 AM on May 21, 2002


What do you suggest they should have done?

More than they did.....I'm not saying they would have prevented it, and obviously we could not have enacted the security we've put in place (as porous as it seems to be) pre-9/11.

But why not a closer look at the people in these schools? Why not a chat with the people who run the schools, just a general "keep your eyes open" sort of thing? Maybe a mention to the airlines (which Bush claims to have done, and the airlines deny). It just seems to me there's a wide gulf between what was done and a level of action that would have a) been too resource intensive, b) caused a panic or c) violated civil rights. Maybe I'm just grasping at straws at here, and there really wasn't anything else that could have been done... but I just want to know that, with some straight and candid talk, not this "you're some sort of partisan commie subversive if you dare question our handling of this situation" crap we've been getting.
posted by jalexei at 11:56 AM on May 21, 2002


The idea of having the US turned into another Israel is one that I must admit makes me uneasy at times, but then I try to think in the well-known odds count. Odds are it is more likely to choke with a bad fish bone than being bombed to pieces by a suicide terrorist.

Talking about nuclear menaces, I catched up a bit on the History Channel that showed an animated program of the Fifties intended to teach children how to "duck and cover" in case of a nuclear attack. So... conclusion? It has always been the same old turd, old human scum. Only that we tend to remember only the good things of past times and therefore we romanticize the past eras...
posted by betobeto at 11:57 AM on May 21, 2002


plaino: Afterall, your question implies that you are disappointed we didn't arrest these people before they committed a crime. Should it be a crime to be suspected of planning a crime? That scares me more than terrorists, to be honest.

I didn't imply. You infered and incorrectly at that. I think they should have done what FBI FO Williams suggested. Investigate whether this was happening at other flight training schools. That would have quickly revealed a large scale operation very quickly.

biscotti: What do you suggest they should have done?

see above..

Additionally, given that the highest levels of government had foreknowledge that a strike 'of some sort', likely involving airplanes, was imminent enough to alter the travel arrangements of 'key' officials one can only be flabbergasted that they didn't, at the least, mandate that cockpit doors be locked during flight or optimally that they be locked and made unbreakable . The negligence by all political parties when it comes to sensible and inexpensive security measures is quite profound and continues to be so.

So while you tranquileye should get his sleep since sleep deprivation is probably a greater risk to his health than a terrorist attack it is foolish to council "everything is okay, your goverment will protect you" optimism. They didn't, they aren't, and unless you make them they probably won't.
posted by srboisvert at 12:00 PM on May 21, 2002


After reading those MidasMulligan rants I'm inclined to ask pResident Cheney to include those Democratics in the Axis of Evil. How dare they question the Imperial Majesty!? Heathens!!
posted by nofundy at 12:01 PM on May 21, 2002


Hey Midas! How do you respond to this?

http://www.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/10/18/column.billpress/
posted by nofundy at 12:03 PM on May 21, 2002


President Truman had a sign on his desk in the Oval Office that said "The Buck Stops Here." The president has the ultimate responsibility for the successes and failures of the government. Bush should acknowledge that the government dropped the ball with the September attacks and tell us what they're doing to prevent further attacks, instead of crying about the Democrats covering the administration's ass in case there are more attacks.

it's been revealed that if you take out congress or the executive branch, there is no backup

It's OK, we have a shadow government (previous MetaFilter discussion).
posted by kirkaracha at 12:34 PM on May 21, 2002


I wonder how many Americans still don't wear a seatbelt but own Cipro?

do people really still not wear seatbelts?

an animated program of the Fifties intended to teach children how to "duck and cover" in case of a nuclear attack. So... conclusion? It has always been the same old turd, old human scum.

Yeah, except at some point they realized "duck and cover" would do jack to save anyone and gave up on teaching the kids false security. Those of us who grew up in the 70's or 80's had a whole new level of nuclear fear which for a lot of us was reawakened by sept 11. If you're younger than that & mostly grew up post-reagan maybe it doesn't strike you the same way.

Yeah, it's true there are all sorts of other ways to die that are more likely but a) many of them are at least partly related to your own actions (driving, chewing, petting stray dogs) and b)even if you don't die in a terror attack, it is a bit traumatic to go through.

I live in NY and have noticed some not insignificant number of people I know are moving to other areas - no one specifically because of the attacks, but I have no doubt they don't provide at least a subconscious nudge toward leaving to a lot of people. Though on the other hand, people have always come and go from new york... just not sure how many are coming in these days.

Anyway it's the possibility of nuclear attack that would worry me. If it were just another plane / building thing, I know the odds are pretty good it wouldn't kill anyone close to me.
posted by mdn at 12:37 PM on May 21, 2002


[How do you respond to this?]

"Bill Press is a syndicated columnist and the co-host of CNN's Crossfire, which airs Monday-Friday at 7:30 p.m."

It's nice to see that CNN is aware of who hosts their shows.

What strikes me as surreal about all this is that I never imagined the Dem's would accuse Bush of knowing too much!?
posted by revbrian at 12:53 PM on May 21, 2002


Speaking about nukes, this from today's Washignton Post: Still Missing: A Nuclear Strategy

"The most likely, most immediate, most potentially devastating threat America faces is the threat of nuclear terrorism. This puts us in a new nuclear arms race -- between terrorist efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and our efforts to stop them. Acquiring weapons materials is the hardest step for the terrorists to take, and the easiest step for us to stop. We and our allies should be taking every possible action to help make the tons of nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere secure from terrorist theft or purchase. But we're not. The budget for these efforts remains essentially flat -- even though, at the current rate, it will take years to secure the remaining 60 percent of nuclear material in Russia that is not adequately protected. The administration needs immediately to put forward new ideas, come up with new funding and recruit new partners to secure the raw materials of nuclear terrorism in Russia and elsewhere."
posted by homunculus at 12:58 PM on May 21, 2002


Does the Bush administration believe that a fearful public is an obedient public?

watch out! if you don't behave the BOGEYMAN will get you :)
posted by kliuless at 1:06 PM on May 21, 2002


After reading those MidasMulligan rants I'm inclined to ask pResident Cheney to include those Democratics in the Axis of Evil. How dare they question the Imperial Majesty!? Heathens!!

Ah yes ... they are "rants" when one doesn't agree with them, and "speaking truth to power" when one does, eh?

I suppose I'll just ask Bush to do whatever the Democrats want. How dare he actually alledge that they are being partisan? Obviously, Mr. "Earth in the Balance" Gore would have immediately focussed on that one warning out of the hundreds that week, and shut down the nation's airports until all potential terrorists were arrested.

Hey Midas! How do you respond to this?
http://www.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/10/18/column.billpress/


With this.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:13 PM on May 21, 2002


muppetboy: your odds of dying in a terrorist attack are the same order of magnitude as your choking to death. do you stay up late nights worrying about that?

Assuming, of course, that only about 3-4, 000 die in the next attack. Given that no one can know if the next terrorist attack will result in hundreds or hundreds of thousands of deaths, that statistical play is of virtually no use. There is really no extrapolation possible here.

I'm worried--I've gone back to my habit (September-October-November 2001) of staying up later and later, checking the yard, watching over my wife and children as they sleep. I hate this feeling of nameless dread. I want a weapon and I hate the thought of that. I need to get more sleep, but I find myself sitting up every night, on guard. I know I'm not doing any good, but I need to stay alert. Dumb, huh?

Anybody else?
posted by mooncrow at 1:22 PM on May 21, 2002


Does anyone else find this particular choice of words thought-provoking or at least a bit revealing?
... his advisers reminded voters ...
Voters? Not all citizens, only the 30-ish percent of them who are voters? AP editing slipup, or sly political commentary?
posted by majick at 1:39 PM on May 21, 2002


"Hey Midas! How do you respond to this?
http://www.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/10/18/column.billpress/

With this."


Your link is broken, Midas.

Maybe this is the one you meant?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:44 PM on May 21, 2002


Your link is broken, Midas.
Maybe this is the one you meant?


Oops, sorry. Yes, that's what I was after. thx ...
posted by MidasMulligan at 2:26 PM on May 21, 2002


Assuming, of course, that only about 3-4, 000 die in the next attack. Given that no one can know if the next terrorist attack will result in hundreds or hundreds of thousands of deaths, that statistical play is of virtually no use. There is really no extrapolation possible here.

> true enough! nobody can predict anything with
> much accuracy when you get down to it... there
> are even plausible scenarios for the end of all
> human life soon. but your mind can ALWAYS create
> such horrifying scenarios (in arbitrarily great detail!).
> people dreamed up and truly feared things just as
> bad long before it was even possible to cause so
> much destruction. we're kind of experts at this kind
> of nightmare production. so i think you have to ask
> yourself where the problem is...
>
> is it really the situation that's the problem here?

I'm worried--I've gone back to my habit (September-October-November 2001) of staying up later and later, checking the yard, watching over my wife and children as they sleep. I hate this feeling of nameless dread. I want a weapon and I hate the thought of that. I need to get more sleep, but I find myself sitting up every night, on guard. I know I'm not doing any good, but I need to stay alert. Dumb, huh?

> all this would make some sense if there was anything
> at all you could hope to do. but there isn't even a
> specific threat. there is no reasonable possibility to
> prepare a defense against an unknowable threat.
> so what are your options?
posted by muppetboy at 2:31 PM on May 21, 2002


I'm worried--I've gone back to my habit (September-October-November 2001) of staying up later and later, checking the yard, watching over my wife and children as they sleep. I hate this feeling of nameless dread. I want a weapon and I hate the thought of that. I need to get more sleep, but I find myself sitting up every night, on guard. I know I'm not doing any good, but I need to stay alert. Dumb, huh?

Anybody else?


I think I've got some sort of delibrate emotional blind spot. My wife and I both worked in the World Financial Center, and live three blocks away. Fled through falling bodies and buildings that day. But we still live in the same place, and my company, which moved to midtown after 9/11, has now re-occupied the WFC ... so my office window looks down straight at the dirt lot where the twin towers used to be (it is stunning how quickly they cleaned the thing up).

I keep thinking one of these days I'll start waking up in the middle of the night with screaming nightmares, or start getting psychotic flashbacks during conference calls at work ... but things seemed to have returned to normal. And that itself is somehow surreal. Oddly enough, I've noticed that while there does seem to still be a lot of discussion about it with friends around the US and the world, my co-workers and neighbors - who stare ground zero in the face every day - simply rarely even discuss it.

Don't mean to hijack the thread ... but I'm wondering whether other MeFi New Yorkers have noticed this ...
posted by MidasMulligan at 2:45 PM on May 21, 2002


Does the Bush administration believe that a fearful public is an obedient public?

A cowed public.

There will always be those incapable of interpreting ANY event in the world without filtering it through a partisan Democrat/Republican lens. Fortunately, they are easily ignored by those seeking a more complex and nuanced appreciation.

Which is not to say that political angles should be ignored. Everything that happens must be interpreted within context, not studied in isolation, and obviously the gamesmenship of the self-serving idiots in Congress and the White House affects everything that they undertake to do. But all but the worst of them remain capable of rising above their customary political bigotry to answer the call of higher values and virtues...or just mere utlilty. To constantly react with the jerking knee accomplishes nothing but the tripping up of the intellect.
posted by rushmc at 3:45 PM on May 21, 2002


Hi Midas. It's funny, I've noticed the same thing on MeFi, in which a lot of folks from outside of the NYC/DC belt opine about what amounts to our schoolyard/backyard (in your case, quite literally).

Most everyone I know here is pretty freaking scared, what with this from the Daily News and this from the Post.

They've basically scared the bejezus out of everyone I know here -- for two reasons. 1. They evidently know enough to say that the city should be on alert and 2. they have recently been blamed for not saying enough pre-9/11 and it is politically expedient to do so now.
posted by boardman at 3:57 PM on May 21, 2002


Since Midas brought up Gore and what he might have done. Perhaps this is of interest:
This is sometimes called the Gore report and almost every measure in it was fought against by the Airline industry and their friends in the Legislature. It does indicate though that Gore had a good grasp of the problems with airport security and tried to change things.

*Note I am not nor have I ever been a Supporter of Al Gore.
posted by yertledaturtle at 4:00 PM on May 21, 2002


As usual, The Onion gets it right.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:58 PM on May 21, 2002


"As U.S. officials continued to issue warnings yesterday about the possibility of attacks by suicide bombers and terrorists, the White House quietly acknowledged that the threats are not urgent and that they are partly motivated by political objectives."
posted by sheauga at 3:16 AM on May 23, 2002


oops :) that's bogus!
posted by kliuless at 4:37 AM on May 23, 2002


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