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Orwell would be proud
July 8, 2004 10:07 AM   Subscribe

Eastasia plans attacks on Eurasia "Efforts each of you make to be vigilant – such as reporting suspicious items or activities to authorities – do make a difference. Every citizen using their common sense and eyes and ears can support our national effort to stop the terrorists. Thank you for your continued resolve in the face of the ongoing threat of terrorism. We must continue to work together – to ensure that the freedom we just celebrated continues as the hallmark of this great nation." Are you scared yet?
posted by skechada (57 comments total)

 
"It was curious to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same—everywhere, all over the world, hundreds or thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another's existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same—people who had never learned to think but were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world."
posted by the fire you left me at 10:11 AM on July 8, 2004


it sounds better if you replace each instance of "homeland" with "Fatherland"
posted by mookieproof at 10:16 AM on July 8, 2004


Ridge has talked about so many "credible" threats from Al-Qaeda which seemingly haven't panned out that I no longer consider him credible.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:16 AM on July 8, 2004


they accomplished what they wanted, which was to knock Kerry/Edwards out of the news.
posted by amberglow at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2004


That's because the boys at the Department of Homeland Security are doing their job, zoogleplex. To suggest anything else would be unamerican.
posted by keswick at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2004


We could reprint the entire text of the novel. Much of it applies to this argument and the approach of this government to what (and how) information gets out.

Hell yes, I'm scared. Because I believe that something's going to happen this summer. See, if there's no actual Threat-to-National-Security, then it'd be in more than a few people's interests to create one.

This may be a cross-thread point, but if they don't have bin Laden cooling his ailing kidneys in a Pakistani cave right now, then do you think someone in the CIA or the State Department might think it politically expedient to let something happen somewhere this summer?

It's a question, not an incitement. But I do find myself asking it more and more often as the things that are done in the name of politics get crazier and crazier.
posted by chicobangs at 10:22 AM on July 8, 2004


Quotes to remember. If nothing else they may offer a false glimmer of hope, which is better than what you get watching the American media machine.

No, I am not scared. "Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"As you have sown so shall you reap." ~ Cicero
posted by infowar at 10:27 AM on July 8, 2004


Now we understand the "Art Carney Situation". The villains have finally cracked our clever color-coded alerts. Instead we're going to bamboozle them with warnings named after American comedians - "Hope" (minor) through "Harpo" (panic). A "Bruce" means the terrorists have already won.
posted by liam at 10:34 AM on July 8, 2004


Reporting suspicious items or activities to authorities does make a difference.
posted by Blue Stone at 10:39 AM on July 8, 2004


I read that this morning, too, Blue Stone. It struck home, since I've spent (post-Sept. 11) afternoons taking photos at the Ballard locks myself, never to be approached by the Office of Homeland Security.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:53 AM on July 8, 2004


Ridge has talked about so many "credible" threats from Al-Qaeda...

There is of course a tradeoff here. They can err on the side of reporting too many threats or too few. Too many means we all laugh at them and perhaps stop listening. Too few means we get taken by surprise again. Also, al-Quaida is no doubt purposely feeding us false threats in order to camouflage the real ones.

Just because the threats distract Americans from Kerry/Edwards and underhanded stuff by the Repub's doesn't mean there aren't a bunch of people trying to kill us.
posted by callmejay at 11:06 AM on July 8, 2004


That's a great piece Blue Stone, thanks.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:09 AM on July 8, 2004


I had a similar incident happen to men when I was in Frederickburg, VA, taking pictures. Admittedly, it was within a couple months of 9/11 (January 29th, 2002), and I was using a teeny-tiny camera, but I was detained by Fredericksburg police for a while because I was acting suspiciously near the railroad tracks, and one of the patriotic shopkeepers did his civic duty.

"Under a spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me."
posted by crunchland at 11:21 AM on July 8, 2004


There are a bunch of people trying to kill us, yet these warnings never have any useful or even vaguely specific information that we could use to protect ourselves (say, avoid docks or ports in NY)--doesn't that seem odd? What good is it to warn us, but give us nothing of use?
posted by amberglow at 11:24 AM on July 8, 2004


If it's a legitimate threat, they should raise the alert level. They've issued undefined scare announcements without raising the threat level before, which removes credibility from both the warning level system and the warnings.

I think it's a cover story for the busted July Surprise: Of course we're putting pressure on Pakistan to capture Bin Laden--we have intelligence that says he's going to try to interfere with the election.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:47 AM on July 8, 2004


Of course we're not scared - because the sky's not really falling, there really are no wolves in the sheep pen and, as they've proven over and over and over since September of 2001, no one in the Bush administration is capable of finding their ass with both hands and a flashlight, so the idea that they're somehow "protecting" us is just laughable.
posted by JollyWanker at 11:54 AM on July 8, 2004


1984 was supposed to be a warning against what could happen, not a Karl Rove instruction manual.
posted by nofundy at 12:08 PM on July 8, 2004


What good is it to warn us, but give us nothing of use?

Because just like us, government officials are scared shitless of more civilians dying. Given that Sept 11th was an unprecedented event, no one had, or currently has, an ideal protocol for terrorist attacks; everyone's basically feeling around in the dark for an answer. Scary, but true.

The government knows if they don't report anything, every nagging contrarian in the country would emerge from the woodwork screaming, "WHY DIDN'T THEY WARN US SOMETHING WAS AFOOT??" the very second something does happen. It's a damned if you do/damned if you don't situation for federal security. They're going to have people angry with them no matter what. Personally, I'd prefer they err on the side of caution, as long as gratuitous arrests aren't made or civil rights are not trampled upon (obviously this has indeed happened, but that's a whole other discussion).

Just for the sake of discussion: if you were an official in Ridge's shoes, how would you act if you had vague info about a major attack? Wait til you have more specific info? What if it's too late?
posted by dhoyt at 12:13 PM on July 8, 2004


I wouldn't be so suspicious of his speech today if it didn't precisely coincide with a huge Kerry-Edwards rally down in Florida, and that the news channels are more concerned with covering even the vaguest of terrorist threats over the election. The fact that he didn't convey anything tangible makes it seem like more of an election ploy, and it bothers me if the Bush side is going to use fear to steer the election.
posted by crunchland at 12:29 PM on July 8, 2004


if you were an official in Ridge's shoes, how would you act

Take off those stinking clown shoes?

Ridge is an idiot. Always was. On the level of Ashcroft and Bush. Totally unqualified for dog catcher at best. But he DID raise one hell of a lot of money for the 2000 campaign!

Give me someone I can trust first, not an idiot with cute little color codes.
posted by nofundy at 12:32 PM on July 8, 2004


It's a damned if you do/damned if you don't situation for federal security.
I'm weeping for their plight. If they can't do their jobs, I'd prefer to not pay their salaries.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:39 PM on July 8, 2004


It should be noted that CNN gave some good space the allegations scaremongering. (scroll down)
posted by Bag Man at 12:45 PM on July 8, 2004


Just for the sake of discussion: if you were an official in Ridge's shoes, how would you act if you had vague info about a major attack? Wait til you have more specific info? What if it's too late?

We've heard over and over "vague info"--what good is it? What are we supposed to do? How about this amazing idea: they actually do something about it and stop acting like incompetent people more concerned about their own jobs than our safety. If there are legitimate threats that are new (which i don't believe for a second), tell us from who, targeted where, and what they're doing about it to prevent it and apprehend the people planning it. Furthermore, tell us what we should do, and not just that they have it under control. We know they don't have anything under control, and this bullshit confirms it.

Furthermore, the timing of this reeks for more than just bumping Kerry/Edwards off the news. There's also the extensive and lasting friendship of Kenny Lay (indicted just today) and Bush.
posted by amberglow at 12:52 PM on July 8, 2004


And why are we always told of the planned plots, but never of the foiled plots? (Or are we, and it just doesn't make the news?)

Re Ian Spiers' experience: I'm of two minds about it. On the one hand, the LEOs were clearly out of line. But on the other hand, I think it is a good idea to keep an eye out for "suspicious activity"; both the Locks and the nearby railroad bridge are major works that could cause lots of disruption if destroyed. Where this went wrong, though, is that (a) the local guard/groundskeeper interpreted photography as "suspicious activity"; (b) the local police made no effort to figure out what was going on; (c) the "homeland security" guys were, not surprisingly, complete assholes, interested more in intimidation than investigation.

The root problem is that nobody at any of these levels has the authority and competence to say definitively "this guy is not a terrorist" and decide not to pass the warning along. Because if it turns out that he was a terrorist, no amount of reasoning, or "I checked and he actually is a photography student", or "I'm a good judge of character", will save the guard's/cop's/HomelandGoon's ass from the lynch mob.

It's worth noting that none of the harassment would have done any good if Spiers had been a terrorist, either. It's an insult to every peaceful person and a waste of my taxes. But we've given the police an impossible job, and this is the result.
posted by hattifattener at 12:59 PM on July 8, 2004


So, we have Ridge warning y'all about "a large-scale attack in the United States in an effort to disrupt our democratic process."

I honestly don't know if that's a warning, or a wish. I also don't think that the Bush administration wouldn't seize the opportunity to suspend the upcoming election if it looks like he might lose.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 1:05 PM on July 8, 2004


Given that Sept 11th was an unprecedented event, no one had, or currently has, an ideal protocol for terrorist attacks; everyone's basically feeling around in the dark for an answer. Scary, but true.

Maybe if Americans paid attention to the rest of the world they wouldn't throw around words like "unprecedented" when a terrorist attack happens on their own soil (instead of being carried out in foreign lands by people they used to fund). If the American government is really so unbelievably lax that they had no strategies for dealing with something so common in other parts of the world--especially considering the amount of meddling the American government has historically done--then there's no excuse. That would be ignorance of an almost incalculable degree.

Also, it's worth mentioning that

1) They had intel to suggest it would happen.

2) Major terrorist strikes have happened before in North America, twice in the decade preceding 9/11 (the first WTC bombing by Bin Laden and co. and the Oklahoma City Bombing).

Just for the sake of discussion: if you were an official in Ridge's shoes, how would you act if you had vague info about a major attack? Wait til you have more specific info? What if it's too late?

Before 9/11 they had "might hijack planes and attack America" (paraphrased) and they didn't say anything. You expect me to believe the extent of American intel right now is "they're planning something somewhere in the United States around, oh, Fourth of July". Give me a fucking break. What do you want me--or anyone--to do with that information? Oh, wow, people that hate America might attack on the national birthday. You don't say? You give people two options with this vague, unsubstantiated (as far as we know) bullshit: ignore it or live in fear. One guess which one the current admin prefers.
posted by The God Complex at 1:09 PM on July 8, 2004


That's because the boys at the Department of Homeland Security are doing their job, zoogleplex. To suggest anything else would be unamerican.

I should say here that I very much appreciate all the very hard-working people who are doing the ACTUAL work of dealing with potential threats, and hopefully actually stopping them from happening. There's a lot of smart people in the various organizations that make up DHS who are doing their best in that respect. I give all of them full credibility for their efforts.

It's TOM RIDGE who I don't find credible, for exactly what amberglow mentions:

they accomplished what they wanted, which was to knock Kerry/Edwards out of the news.

Yep. And Ken Lay. Ridge just looks like part of the Administration machine, doing his duty by spouting vague warnings at times which IMO are clearly chosen to influence voters, and that's why I've stopped listening to him.

I'll put my trust in the folks who are out doing the field work and intel coordination instead, that they will intercept any attempts before they happen. At least they (again IMO) are working for the People of the United States... as opposed to the GOP.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:20 PM on July 8, 2004


if you were an official in Ridge's shoes, how would you act if you had vague info about a major attack? Wait til you have more specific info? What if it's too late?

What information has this man given us so that we may protect ourselves? None whatsoever. It's a continuation of a long-established pattern with the DHS, which seems very keen on telling us to be very, very scared of something indefinite.

"What if it's too late?" Too late for what? There's certainly no indication that people in the US are any better protected after this announcement than before.
posted by clevershark at 1:32 PM on July 8, 2004


Take off those stinking clown shoes?

So...you have no real substantial response to my points about the complications of protecting a populace while trying to avoid scaring them, then, other than gnashing your teeth about Ridge or hackneyed Orwell references or dopey conjecture about trying to knock Kerry off the front pages (which perpetuates the worst kind of conspiracy theorist stereotypes about MeFites, doesn't it)?

How about this amazing idea: they actually do something about it and stop acting like incompetent people more concerned about their own jobs than our safety.

You say "do something about it" like Al Qaeda is a spider on the floor and all you need to do is stomp on it. We all know by now how complicated an enemy they are.

If there are legitimate threats that are new (which i don't believe for a second), tell us from who, targeted where, and what they're doing about it to prevent it and apprehend the people planning it.

They already said the threats were from Al Quaeda. Targeted where? They said they didn't know. Apprehending? Al Quaeda are scattered among the globe, some even in our own country. Given that we've killed or captured numerous Al Quaeda in the past year, I don't doubt we've already got men on the ground trying to round the rest of them up, as we've been doing for years now.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

And please stop perpetuating the cornball scenario about big bad evil Tom Ridge steepling his fingers and consciously fabricating terror warnings to distract us. You say you don't believe him? You have no more concrete evidence that he's being diversionary than he does that a terror attack is imminent.
posted by dhoyt at 1:35 PM on July 8, 2004


I think a lot of you guys need to tighten up the ol' tinfoil hats. This whole terrorist warning thing is typical CYA that any administration would do. Government officials are aware that any action/inaction they take that does not prevent a terrorist attack will result in them being pilloried in the next Congressional Investigation. This results in them warning us on even slight, possible, could be indications of an attack. No 1984 here, just good old fashioned government efficiency at work.
posted by CRS at 1:44 PM on July 8, 2004


If it was serious, they wouldn't make a public report. They would keep their mouths shut and follow the lead.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:50 PM on July 8, 2004


someone really needs to do a rundown on the timing of these warnings in the past 2 years...what was leading the news the day before? what was knocked out of the news by a vague warning? It would be very interesting to see.
posted by amberglow at 1:50 PM on July 8, 2004


Here's a start...
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:59 PM on July 8, 2004


Wikipedia has a list of the actual alert level changes.

Speaking of Ken Lay, Bush walked out of a press briefing to avoid answering questions about "Kenny Boy."
posted by kirkaracha at 2:34 PM on July 8, 2004


For accuracy's sake, Oceania would be the target of those Eastasian attacks, not Eurasia. Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:35 PM on July 8, 2004


Are almanacs and beer coolers still considered suspicious items?
posted by homunculus at 2:56 PM on July 8, 2004


There'll be no more White House sleepovers, if indicted Bush crony Kenneth Lay decides to tell all.
posted by homunculus at 2:58 PM on July 8, 2004


thanks sonofsamiam...maybe i'll put a full list together.
posted by amberglow at 3:11 PM on July 8, 2004


Go for it, amber - it won't convince the wingnuts who've bought into the whole "We Are Under the Threat of Imminent Attack Every Minute of Every Day" FUD the Bushies use as an increasingly lame way to divert attention from "other things," but I'd be interested to see in retrospect what it was our attention was being diverted from...
posted by JollyWanker at 5:23 PM on July 8, 2004


All In The Timing--it's a start. I'm going to work backwards from today's warning and see. : >
posted by amberglow at 5:57 PM on July 8, 2004


What is it that you eternal skeptics want Ridge to tell you? How about this... "A group of 15-20 shifty-lookin' men will try to blow up the "A train" (or whatever it is) in downtown Chicago one day this week. The bomb could, quite possibly, contain poison gas... a gas that will likely kill thousands of people as it creeps through the city. Those people in the 'kill zone' should consider quitting their jobs and moving far far away. For those that want to stay and 'risk it', wrap your entire body in plastic and arm yourself. If nothing happens at all, we apologize for creating complete chaos in the Chicago area. Meanwhile, we will continue to do nothing to prevent this from happening, since that's what you seem to believe anyway... fuckin' knuckleheads. Peace out!"

The lot of you, a few aside, really make zero sense... and I can't believe that you're so committed to one side of the argument (if that's what this is) that you refuse to notice just how little sense you're actually making.

You want to know what to do when the gov't makes a terror threat public? DO NOTHING! Live your life holmes. I mean really... what WOULD you do if they said your town was going to explode tomorrow? Leave? Sure, why not? And then, what if nothing happened at all? There'd be some crybaby whinefest thread on MetaFilter about it. "How come they said my town was going to go booom and it never did? THEY MUST HAVE LIED!" Ppfffft.
posted by Witty at 6:34 PM on July 8, 2004


Alright, Witty, then why bring it up in the first place? Why the alerts? Why the constant "something's gonna happen, but we don't know where or when, so -- be alert?" Alert for what? Without information, all it does is make people scared of something nebulous. There's nothing they can do about it except be more afraid of everything they don't know. Which, after three years of nothing, starts to sound a bit chicken-littleish.

If we're supposed to keep on living our lives as if this information isn't important, then why is it constantly broadcast by the highest levels of government with such -- import?

Please. I really want to know.
posted by chicobangs at 6:40 PM on July 8, 2004


July Surprise?
According to one source in Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), "The Pakistani government is really desperate and wants to flush out bin Laden and his associates after the latest pressures from the U.S. administration to deliver before the [upcoming] U.S. elections." Introducing target dates for Al Qaeda captures is a new twist in U.S.-Pakistani counterterrorism relations--according to a recently departed intelligence official, "no timetable[s]" were discussed in 2002 or 2003--but the November election is apparently bringing a new deadline pressure to the hunt. Another official, this one from the Pakistani Interior Ministry, which is responsible for internal security, explains, "The Musharraf government has a history of rescuing the Bush administration. They now want Musharraf to bail them out when they are facing hard times in the coming elections." (These sources insisted on remaining anonymous. Under Pakistan's Official Secrets Act, an official leaking information to the press can be imprisoned for up to ten years.)
posted by euphorb at 6:41 PM on July 8, 2004


Why have we not been code "Blue" for most of the time since 9-11? Wait a minute... we are in the Blue™. There is peace in Landreu.
posted by Dick Paris at 7:13 PM on July 8, 2004


chicobangs - If a terrorism alert scares you, then a more detailed alert would only make it worse for you, no. The jop of Homeland Security is this very thing. Blame the media for making it a bigger deal than it is. Every department issues some kind of statement or report everyday. HS just happens to get the ratings these days. You don't have to like it or think that the department is necessary. But how can you question the information that they provide, even if it's not the detailed spy novel that everyone here expects? If a vague basic threat is all they received, then a vague basic warning is all they can issue. Anything is would be pure speculation and wouldn't do anyone any good.

"Do you have anything more specific Mr. Ridge?"
"Yes, indeed. The suburbs of Tulsa could be in for it."
"Oh phew... it's not me."

Which, after three years of nothing, starts to sound a bit chicken-littleish.

After three years of what? No terrorist attacks? SO WHAT? Is it terrorist attacks that you want, in rder to justify the department's existance? Wouldn't that just give you reason to want it dissolved or to fire Tom Ridge or whoever it might be? I can handle the general distaste for the Patriot Act around here... and anything Bush related for that matter. But the logic behind the arguments against these terrorist attack warnings makes no sense to me... NONE.

Forget these claims that the warnings are simply a ploy to bump something else out of the news (please... if it's news, it's news. If it ain't, it ain't). Are you suggesting that Homeland Security not warn us at all? If that's the case, sounds good to me. I don't have a problem with that. But when something does happen (and it will, HS or not), I don't want to see anymore Americans blamed. That's all we do around here, is blame Americans. If we get attacked, we gotta find an American somewhere to take the rap. Insanity.

dhoyt is exactly right. HS is damned if they do, damned if they don't.

If we're supposed to keep on living our lives as if this information isn't important, then why is it constantly broadcast by the highest levels of government with such -- import?

I didn't say it wasn't important. You give it the importance that you want to give it. Personally, I give it very little. I have a day to day life to live and worry about. If a road bomb takes me out somewhere on the GW Parkway, then so be it.
posted by Witty at 7:23 PM on July 8, 2004


Witty - the problem isn't with a warning, and I agree with you. If they don't CYA, then the same people who are shouting about there being a warning would be shouting that there wasn't a warning.

The problem, and the reason that so many people think it's political in nature (rather than genuine or even just CYA), is that there was nothing new here.

Basically, Ridge called a press conference to say hey, remember when I told you that the sky was blue? Yeah, well it's still blue.

OK, thanks for that update. Do you have any new information to pass along to us?

Nope, nope, just the sky is still blue.

OK, well are you at least changing your sky color code warning system indicate that the sky is somehow more blue than it was before?

Nope, we don't see any reason to change the color code at this time.

OK, well why are you telling us this now? It seems like it might be sort of kind of politically motivated I mean given that you'd already told us the sky was blue, and you don't seem to have any reason to believe the sky is any more blue now that it was before. Well, it just seems like pretty convenient timing.

Well, I can't help the way it seems. The sky is blue, I thought you'd want to know.
posted by willnot at 7:37 PM on July 8, 2004


Remember, Osama wants you to vote Kerry!
posted by homunculus at 8:04 PM on July 8, 2004


When I say "three years of nothing," I don't mean "no terrorist attacks." I mean no news at all. No change in even the cadence of the sentences that are parroted by Ashcroft and Ridge and Cheney and Rice and Rove and Bush and Powell and whoever-else, sentences without an iota of substantive detail in the first place.

And if I'm afraid, it's not of "terrorists" -- I've seen what terrorists can do, and it's really fucking awful, but I've wrapped my mind around it now, thanks -- it's of the lengths the current administration seem to be willing to go to stay in office, including making up reasons out of whole cloth to start a now-very-real war in which thousands of people we know (and tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people we don't know) are dying.

That's what I'm afraid of. So pointless fearmongering makes us all suspicious of the person next door, where any detail about a possible threat means that we as a country would be better able to deal with it.

If they're gonna bomb my neighborhood, fine. At least I know. If they're gonna bomb Tulsa, well, maybe we can help the people in Tulsa out. Maybe not. At least we'd know, and be able to deal with it. But Witty, what do you call it when someone comes on the news every two weeks like friggin' clockwork and says, without facts to back it up, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling?"

Choosing to remain ignorant has never worked out for any people, ever. Ever.
posted by chicobangs at 8:23 PM on July 8, 2004


willnot - Thanks for making that more clear.
posted by Witty at 8:56 PM on July 8, 2004


...including making up reasons out of whole cloth to start a now-very-real war...

An obvious point of disagreement. :) I never bought into the idea of WMDs, a direct threat to American soil, etc. as THE reasons for going to war. I thought they were just the marketable reasons. I always thought the war was a direct effort to back up the consequences of resolution 1441... and therefore a real legitimate reason for starting this whole shebang (as much as my heart really wished it didn't have to happen). This, Bush did not "make up". He did a poor job of packaging it. But we just disagree on that whole idea anyway.

I thought the idea of "selling" the war on scary WMD possibilities, etc. etc. was a mistake... one that has proved itself to be an even bigger error than it first appeared (because I assumed they would at least find SOMEthing over there, based on somewhat reliable odds). I think Bush misjudged the citizens of this country for being unable to digest all the international politics and the U.N, and so forth... and ultimately come to a conclusion about this war. I think his administration thought we needed something more flashy and that was just dumb.

If they're gonna bomb Tulsa, well, maybe we can help the people in Tulsa out. Maybe not. At least we'd know, and be able to deal with it.

I'm just not so sure that knowing would actually be better. I really don't. I live in the D.C. area... maybe 5 mins. from Reagan National Airport, Pentagon, all that. The threats that must come in and get tossed around on a daily basis in this area are probably mind-boggling. I doubt this metropolitan area could function if we knew about every single threat and what the details of each one brought. Do you really want to know the details of every threat that has NYC in mind? God, I wouldn't.

There's an Air Force building of some sort, in Rossalyn, VA (hop, skip and a jump from D.C.) that empties out into the streets damn near 4 out of 5 days a week due to bomb threats. That's absurd. But of course they have to take each one seriously. How easy would it be to say, "yea right"? That would be the day though... you know it would. It's fucked up... and I just can't see a day when it will end. I know it's nothing new in many parts of the world. It's new in mine and it's a shame.

{ramble ramble}
posted by Witty at 11:12 PM on July 8, 2004


I certainly don't buy the idea that the government is secretly dealing with many potential incidents and that they just can't talk about them for some reason or another. I see that notion floated a lot.

Think of Israel. They have a much smaller territory to worry about, and have decades of experience in dealing with terrorism, yet incidents still happen fairly regularly. They don't bother with telling their citizens to be afraid without giving details or even a reason. That's just doing the terrorists' work for them, really.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:24 PM on July 8, 2004


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posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:01 AM on July 9, 2004


Ridge defends call not to raise terror alert level.
posted by crunchland at 8:07 AM on July 9, 2004


My god, do you guys realize how idiotic you're sounding? dhoyt points out the inherent difficulty in a position like Ridge's -- if we have a terrorist attack, that means he failed; if we don't, that means he's just scaremongering, and nofundy responds with "he's dumb". WTF? How is that even an answer? How is that even relevant?
posted by dagnyscott at 9:44 PM on July 9, 2004


dhoyt points out the inherent difficulty in a position like Ridge's -- if we have a terrorist attack, that means he failed; if we don't, that means he's just scaremongering, and nofundy responds with "he's dumb".

And you really think that 'We can't tell you anything specific: just be afraid' is helpful?
posted by riviera at 7:14 AM on July 10, 2004


An alternative possibility here which IMO is more likely is that there is currently sufficient reason to raise the terror alert level to orange, but the states have learned how to put pressure on DHS to keep the alert level low and save themselves some $$$. In other words, I think Ridge is saying, "Due to political pressures from the states I can't make you any safer, but I can still tell you that you're in danger!"

It's all about the $$$.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by Ptrin at 9:56 AM on July 10, 2004


Or, y'know, the DHS could make at least a pretense of treating the public as if we were participants in a democracy, and say things like, "Okay, that terror warning from last month: we had some intel, and last week we apprehended three guys with suspicious accents and a tanker truck of chlorine gas, and we've shipped them off to the secret torture chambers in Ashcroft's basement, so now we're safe on that count. The warning six weeks ago, that was a false alarm. And today's warning, well, obviously we can't tell you anything, but be alert and buy duct tape and stuff."

The fact that there's never any followup on these supposed threats is one reason I'm awfully skeptical. I'm sure there's always an imminent threat: it's a big country in a big world. Sometimes, Ridge decides to hold a press conference about the ongoing peril. Why then? We're never told why. We're just told to be afraid at particular times.
posted by hattifattener at 7:41 PM on July 10, 2004


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