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Terrorist Alert Level: Red Herring!
August 3, 2004 12:36 AM   Subscribe

Terrorist Alert Level: Red Herring! The New York Times reported today that much of the information that led to the heightened alert in New York and Washington D.C. is actually three or four years old and that authorities have no evidence or recent communications indicating an upcoming terrorist attack. George Pataki and Michael Bloomberg, who are both speaking at the upcoming Republican convention, are making political hay off of people's fears of another 9/11. Some New Yorkers are worried about the enormous cost of the alert to the local economy, as bridge traffic snarls to a crawl.
Who needs foriegn terrorism when we can just make our own! Are we scared yet?!
posted by insomnia_lj (150 comments total)

 
Ambiguous, color-coded nationwide alerts are simply ridiculous, a way to keep the public in fear of constant "terror war". Orwellian.
posted by ac at 12:41 AM on August 3, 2004


the future just happened
posted by Satapher at 12:43 AM on August 3, 2004


It's kind of like the Reichstag fire, only without all the smoke and nice uniforms, isn't it?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:53 AM on August 3, 2004


shocked, i am shocked.
posted by keswick at 1:05 AM on August 3, 2004


Have I gone paranoid or has the entire country gone nuts?
posted by rks404 at 1:08 AM on August 3, 2004


Shrub Co. haven't done anything yet in the lead-up to the election that wasn't predicted months ago.

http://www.octobersurprise.net/
posted by krisjohn at 1:11 AM on August 3, 2004


you people are all cynics. Once the war with Eastasia is over, you'll sing a diiferent tune.
posted by dogwelder at 1:48 AM on August 3, 2004


Actually, the NYT says that while the reconnaissance may have happened some time ago, recent intelligence traffic suggests that Al Qaeda may act on it soon. "[O]fficials continued to regard the information as significant and troubling" ... "Al Qaeda had often struck years after its operatives began surveillance of an intended target."
posted by harmoniousness at 1:52 AM on August 3, 2004


Of course they "may act on it". They may do whatever they want whenever they want.

That doesn't change what I said, however... There is no evidence or recent communications indicating an upcoming terrorist attack.


"There is nothing right now that we're hearing that is new," said one senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the alert. "Why did we go to this level? . . . I still don't know that."
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:20 AM on August 3, 2004


"recent intelligence traffic suggests that Al Qaeda may act on it soon"

Absolutely not true. All we know is that these targets were looked at in the distant past and that terrorists apparently gather and occasionally update intelligence on possible targets, in part from publically available information online.

That is much different than recent intelligence saying that these targets may soon be attacked.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:26 AM on August 3, 2004


From that same sfgate article...
Initially, top administration officials had decided to wait until Monday to announce the alert, but more intelligence information was coming in -- both new translations of the documents, and analysis of other sources' statements -- that deepened their concern about the information and persuaded them to move ahead swiftly. "There was a serious sense of urgency to get it out," the senior intelligence official said.
I'm willing to accept that this might either have actual value or there might have been a genuine mistake in judging the worth of the data. That's a lot of very specific and potentially very damaging data.

Also... can you imagine the ensuing shitstorm if they didn't announce this and an attack occured even years from now? It wouldn't be pretty. I'm not sure that this needed to be trumpeted as much as it has been, but surely some announcement about this was justified.

On preview -- insomnia_lj, please clarify something for
posted by mote at 2:31 AM on August 3, 2004


Errr. Nevermind the last bit; I rechecked and it looked like you were right. My apologies.
posted by mote at 2:32 AM on August 3, 2004


Of course it is pure coincidence that this announcement came during the Democratic National Convention. Pure coincidence.
posted by Goofyy at 3:29 AM on August 3, 2004


From a NYT editorial today:

"But it's unfortunate that it is necessary to fight suspicions of political timing, suspicions the administration has sown by misleading the public on security. The Times reports today that much of the information that led to the heightened alert is actually three or four years old and that authorities had found no concrete evidence that a terror plot was actually under way. This news does nothing to bolster the confidence Americans need that the administration is not using intelligence for political gain."

You know, I'm pretty cynical, but even I am kind of shocked by this. I have to think there was some new indication of an imminent attack combined with the discovery of the old surveillance.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:38 AM on August 3, 2004


Hatred, division, fear and consumption are the tools of the Rovians. So just STFU, go shopping, buy some firearms and blame all your problems on your slightly different neighbor! Oh, yes, genuflect to Dear Leader you good patriot!
posted by nofundy at 4:47 AM on August 3, 2004


Further to Goofyy's comment, did anyone notice that the morning after Kerry's acceptance speech, during his dockside farewell to kick off his campaign roadtrip, Colin Powell suddenly popped up in Baghdad with a snap news conference to announce nothing at all? CNN cut away from Kerry for that, and all he said was it sure is swell that Iraq is a sovereign nation.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:52 AM on August 3, 2004


Not that I'm a fan a Bill Maher or anything (at all), but I think he was right when he said that Americans are not cynical enough. This is a case in point. Yesterday, they shut down the Holland Tunnel, the Williamsburg Bridge and searched every car of every PATH train coming into the City. It took me nearly three hours to get in yesterday (usually takes 40 minutes) for a meeting.

Now, thinking that it was a legitimate threat, I planned my day in advance and that's fine, everyone should suck it up a bit. But if it's based on information that' predates even Sept 11, and wastes the times of thousands of security workers, transportation workers, and wastes the time of hundreds of thousands of commuters, it's starting to piss me off.
posted by psmealey at 5:26 AM on August 3, 2004


You took the words out of my mouth, psmealey. This stuff is from before the attacks of September 11, 2001.
posted by Songdog at 5:31 AM on August 3, 2004


I'm actually very curious to see if they'll be brazen enough to try the same BS on election day. They certainly have been laying the groundwork for it.
posted by psmealey at 5:42 AM on August 3, 2004


my crook-o-meter is going crazy.

however, the needle on my surprise-o-meter is barely jumping.
posted by mcsweetie at 5:50 AM on August 3, 2004


Alert status red, but the sun comes out instead (c) matthew good
posted by Sijeka at 5:53 AM on August 3, 2004


Someone explain to me why there are enhanced terror warnings in Upper New Jersey, Washington D.C., and New York, yet we are now letting everyone into the Statue of Liberty for the first time since September 11th when it was closed previously because it was a terrorist target? This administration makes no sense.
posted by banished at 6:02 AM on August 3, 2004


What happens when they get actual information about an actual impending threat. How will they let us know that this time they mean it. Will anyone believe anything anymore? This administration is making it EASIER for terrorists to attack by making us less responsive to warnings. Bush is making the world a more dangerous place in so many ways.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:03 AM on August 3, 2004


So was this phony warning intended to disrupt the Kerry post-convention polls, or what?
posted by sudama at 6:06 AM on August 3, 2004


If I were paranoid, I would say that these types of alerts are being used to soften us up for the "no, really, it's really going to happen" alert to occur on Election Day. I'm not there yet. But I'm getting closer.
posted by psmealey at 6:12 AM on August 3, 2004


What happens when they get actual information about an actual impending threat.

There's the rub. Forget speculation over whether the administration is intentionally fucking with our heads. All this crying wolf is making us far less safe in the long run. Unfounded threats now could end up costing lives when a real attack happens.
posted by jpoulos at 6:34 AM on August 3, 2004


I wonder what people in the Midwest think about this.

If they think about this.
posted by the fire you left me at 6:35 AM on August 3, 2004


Please, tflym, please let them be thinking about this.
posted by chicobangs at 6:47 AM on August 3, 2004


" I wonder what people in the Midwest think about this."

Well, I'm in the Midwest, so you could read my post above to see what someone there thinks.

Pretty much.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:51 AM on August 3, 2004


This makes Ridge's politicizing of the terror alert itself even more pathetic:
But we must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror, the reports that have led to this alert are the result of offensive intelligence and military operations overseas, as well as strong partnerships with our allies around the world, such as Pakistan.
posted by skallas at 6:54 AM on August 3, 2004


All this crying wolf is making us far less safe in the long run.

Bang on. From the standpoint of someone who, for a living, is in and out of financial firms in lower Manhattan on a daily basis, yesterday was just another day at the office. Security in those places has been consistenly very tight since 9-11, and yesterday was no different. All the warning did was to make everyone else a little more uptight yesterday, and a perhaps a bit more skeptical today. This, as you say, makes everyone a little less safe in the future, when a warning may be based on better and more immediate intelligence.
posted by psmealey at 6:58 AM on August 3, 2004


So, during the RNC pretty much all of manhattan will be on lockdown? How convenient. I am assuming the "free speech area" will be off the island entirely.

FWIW we went to Mexico during a nationwide orange alert in 2002 or 2003. Driving back across the border, customs didn't even look at our Passports, much less inside the trunk or anything. They merely said "are you American?" We said "yes." They told us to go on ahead. Heightened state indeed.

I live in the midwest.
posted by jester69 at 7:01 AM on August 3, 2004


So, during the RNC pretty much all of manhattan will be on lockdown?

Not a problem.

posted by jpoulos at 7:08 AM on August 3, 2004


Hold on, hold on. LA times says Fresh Details Back Threats!!

So its ok to go back to being afraid again.
posted by Quartermass at 7:13 AM on August 3, 2004


...yet we are now letting everyone into the Statue of Liberty for the first time since September 11th when it was closed previously because it was a terrorist target?
That's because there's a brewing graft/kickback scandal about the fundraising for the renovations, and it's only open up to the calf, by reservation only.

We're much safer, right? This is becoming the "Warning of the Month" club. Funny that Ridge made this new announcement on a day when Kerry/Edwards were all over the news plus there were giant explosions in Iraqi churches. i've updated my attempt at recording the timing of these "warnings."
posted by amberglow at 7:13 AM on August 3, 2004


And if Plissken's unavailable:


posted by jonmc at 7:14 AM on August 3, 2004


I wonder what people in the Midwest think about this.

Here in Chicago, the alert levels and terrorist warnings are taken seriously. We're not held up in traffic like our friends in NYC, but there are more cops on the street and an increased security presence around prominent landmark, state and federal buildings, etc.

All of which is a good thing. Were I a terrorist, I'd not bother with New York - better to focus on a city that isn't quite as prepared. Like Chicago.

But if this recent threat turns out to be unfounded and politically motivated, you can be sure that folks here in the Midwest will be just as pissed off as people on the East Coast - just ask anyone being held up at O'Hare.
posted by aladfar at 7:24 AM on August 3, 2004


So does anyone have any actual opinions on how to make 'terror alerts' better? or are we just going to sit around and moan?
posted by lowfield at 7:29 AM on August 3, 2004


my crook-o-meter is going crazy.

however, the needle on my surprise-o-meter is barely jumping.
posted by mcsweetie at 8:50 AM EST on August 3
That simply means your cynistat is adjusted correctly, and both devices are receiving accurate signals from the Realitron unit.
posted by rusty at 7:34 AM on August 3, 2004


They're just gonna moan and groan. And while agree that the constant threat hyping by the Bush Administration is cynical and counterproductive, I am a little bit amazed at everyone sitting around pontificating as if you all had access to the CIA master files.
posted by jonmc at 7:35 AM on August 3, 2004


you people are all cynics. Once the war with Eastasia is over, you'll sing a diiferent tune.
posted by dogwelder at 1:48 AM PST on August 3


best comment ive seen in weeks.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 7:36 AM on August 3, 2004


So does anyone have any actual opinions on how to make 'terror alerts' better?
For starters:
Do not use these to knock your political opponents or other bad news (Iraq) off the air.
Do not use these when your poll numbers are dropping.
Do not use old information, much of which is freely available online (the floorplans/diagrams etc).
Do not throw in political remarks about what a great job the president is doing--your warning alone belies that.
Do not unnecessarily scare people.
Do give useful information--something more specific than "live your life normally, but be vigilant."
posted by amberglow at 7:39 AM on August 3, 2004


When I first heard about it, my first thought was, "Great, I'm flying to the east coast on Sunday; now I'm going to have to get to the damned airport three hours early instead of two."

The administration can be congratulated- all this yellow, no orange, no yellow, no orange! has successfully turned this midwesterner into a total skeptic. That way, when and if terrorists manage to pull off another attack on US soil, I'm not only going to be pissed off at the terrorists, I'm going to be pissed off at the government for inuring people to the possibility, and for having their thumbs up their ass and failing to prevent it.
posted by headspace at 7:42 AM on August 3, 2004


"LA times says Fresh Details Back Threats!!"

Apparently, in amongst all the research they had compiled on computer files for these possible terrorist targets, at least one file was updated at some time this year with information available off the Internet. That, however, is a far cry from a known threat. That just means that this particular individual kept occasionally updated dossiers on several possible targets... which is, after all, what you would expect.

Now, if they had an email ordering an attack, that would be something else.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:45 AM on August 3, 2004


As someone who spends the lion's share of my life in Midtown and Lower Manhattan, I'm positive that the next strike (if there is one, and there could be, but you know what? I'm not 100% convinced anymore) will not happen here, but somewhere in the heart of the country. Chicago, maybe, but really: if you wanted to scare the shit out of America, you'd go somewhere like Kansas City or Louisville or Des Moines, a could-be-anyplace kind of place where people don't have the impression that this will ever happen to them.

That was what made the Oklahoma City thing so creepy. That could have been anywhere, and that was what was so scary about it.

Anyway. Answers? I have no answers. But does anyone, anywhere, still buy what Homeland Security is selling?
posted by chicobangs at 7:46 AM on August 3, 2004


I wonder what people in the Midwest think about this.

If they think about this.
posted by the fire you left me at 8:35 AM CST on August 3


Please clarify your comment, because it sure sounds like you mean that people in the Midwest are stupid.
posted by norm at 7:47 AM on August 3, 2004


But does anyone, anywhere, still buy what Homeland Security is selling?

Well, few things beat duct tape.
posted by casarkos at 7:49 AM on August 3, 2004


From Salon:

"... Frances Fragos Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser, said on Monday in an interview on PBS that surveillance reports, apparently collected by Qaeda operatives had been 'gathered in 2000 and 2001.' But she added that information may have been updated as recently as January.

" ... Federal authorities said on Monday that they had uncovered no evidence that any of the surveillance activities described in the documents was currently under way. They said officials in New Jersey had been mistaken in saying on Sunday that some suspects had been found with blueprints and may have recently practiced 'test runs' aimed at the Prudential building in Newark."
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:57 AM on August 3, 2004


So does anyone have any actual opinions on how to make 'terror alerts' better? or are we just going to sit around and moan?

"Fine, then you come up with a better battery-powered battery installer!"

I have no ideas on improving "terror alerts". It's a bad idea to begin with.

Or even better: "Don't just report that there are cracks in the dam--come up with a recipe for concrete to patch them!"

That's the lamest argument one can offer to this debate. It's not my job to make this country safe, but it is my job, as a concerned citizen, to express my concerns about areas where it is unsafe.
posted by jpoulos at 7:58 AM on August 3, 2004


Two hour drive from Brooklyn to Manhattan yesterday == the terrorists have already won.
posted by swift at 8:05 AM on August 3, 2004


Doesn't anyone remember the story "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"? Anyone? Hmmm.
posted by mooncrow at 8:06 AM on August 3, 2004


this study suggests that, what with all these terror alerts, bush is going to win with at least 90% of the popular vote in november.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:07 AM on August 3, 2004


Please clarify your comment
posted by norm at 9:47 AM CST on August 3
posted by four panels at 8:09 AM on August 3, 2004


I hearby give my permission to every citizen to voice their concerns with their elected government, even if they don't have a concrete plan for improvement. If I fug up at my job, and a client complains, I don't expect them to tell me how to do a better job. I am expected to do a better job for them so they no longer have anything to complain about.

"I am a little bit amazed at everyone sitting around pontificating as if you all had access to the CIA master files."

Another phony argument. Just because someone does not have access to top secret information does not mean they are not allowed to express an opinion on the functioning of their government. If there's additional information they aren't revealing, they should say as much. As things stand now, we all have the same information as GWB, and most of that information is very old. None of it is very specific.
Contrast that with the pre 9/11 intelligence, which included information about suspects training at flight schools, and Osama planning on hijacking planes.

The government is doing a bad job, either for political gain or due to incompetence, or both. Who pays in the end?
posted by Outlawyr at 8:10 AM on August 3, 2004


So does anyone have any actual opinions on how to make 'terror alerts' better?

Why have them at all? I thought from Day One that it was just CYA bullshit. If the government wants to issue specific threat alerts to law enforcement agencies, that's fine, but it doesn't do much good to issue the threat alert to John Q. Public.

Honestly, based on what happened on September 11, and what we see and hear in the news every day, how can we NOT be vigilant? To put it into perspective, when I was a student in Paris in the mid 80s, during the height of the bombings, it just became common sense to report things out of the ordinary (unaccompanied suitcases in the park or unaccompanied briefcases in the office lobby, etc.), and go about your life as undeterred as possible.
posted by psmealey at 8:12 AM on August 3, 2004




So does anyone have any actual opinions on how to make 'terror alerts' better?

Go back in time and unarrest Richard Jewell; the incident that everyone remembers about somebody reporting a threat. Combined with USA-PATRIOT and the threat of Guantanamo, the result is an equation in people's minds that tells them statistically they're better off not reporting anything. Ratio of Americans killed randomly by terrorist attacks? 1,000,000 : 1. Ratio of Americans reporting bombs at public events to get arrested for same? 1:1 Do the math. A frightened populace that literally does not know which way to turn may be politically useful for Bush (though I expect that to backfire big time) but it's worse than useless for civil defense.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:16 AM on August 3, 2004


I thought from Day One that it was just CYA bullshit.

Seriously, this administration is notoriously secretive about everything. Yet they come up with a system to tell the world about every piece of dubious intelligence that comes down the pipe, complete with primary colors and catchy slogans like "orange alert"? And people think they're doing it for our own good?

At best, it's entirely political. At worst, it's orwellian.
posted by jpoulos at 8:17 AM on August 3, 2004


'Matilda told such dreadful lies...'
posted by i_cola at 8:19 AM on August 3, 2004


Of course, if something did happen, and they hadn't said anything..... I can hear it now.

The government KNEW about this and didn't do ANYTHING to warn us or to stop it. Sound familiar?

This whole terrorist alert thing is crap. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. If there ever is another terrorist attack, you will have the one side saying,
We warned you !
and the other side saying
Why didn't you stop it?

It is a lose-lose situation. And they know it. If they could actually stop a terrorist attack, they wouldn't warn you, they would just stop it, and tell you after the fact.

Don't look to any adminstration to do anything other than wag the dog in this area.
posted by a3matrix at 8:26 AM on August 3, 2004


" It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist."

-- Orwell, 1984
posted by digaman at 8:36 AM on August 3, 2004


"Of course, if something did happen, and they hadn't said anything..... I can hear it now."

Look, these people had bios on a whole number of potential targets around the country, including in New Jersey and even the Bank of America Building in San Francisco.

That said, backing up traffic into NYC for hours is an inappropriate response when authorities have no evidence or recent communications indicating a potential upcoming terrorist attack.

I think it's entirely appropriate for the government to let these potential targets know that Al Qaeda has listed them as a potential target and developed a dossier on them. I think they should immediately boost their security, share the dossier with the building's security and local authorities to develop effective countermeasures, and work with these places to provide better longterm security procedures for these targets.

That's reasonable. Shutting down New York City isn't. Considering the impact such a thing has on a city, we might as well have comitted a terrorist act on ourselves.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:38 AM on August 3, 2004


"and they hadn't said anything..... I can hear it now."

This is a frequent argument in favor of the warnings. It has two problems:

1) There is a substantial difference between warning people in a position to DO something about these warnings, rather than scaring the public as a whole with random bits and pieces of information.

2) In the present case, most of the intelligence is outdated and lacks a specific timeline or plan for implementation. This is different from the information that the government had prior to 9/11. However, even with the pre-9/11 data, there was no reason for the government to warn every fugging citizen. Rather, there was reason to look at the information and act on it in a rational manner, which apparently did not happen.

In conclusion, if there is solid intel that points to a high risk, it should be acted on by those people and agencies who are paid to increase our security. It should not be floated out to the general medial in a cynical attempt to steal headlines. If there is 4 years old intel with no specific timely threat, it should be looked into as well, but there is even less cause for alarming the entire country.
posted by Outlawyr at 8:39 AM on August 3, 2004


I am assuming the "free speech area" will be off the island entirely.

Most likely it will be located in the middle of Freshkills. At least that'll leave no doubt as to the Administration's feelings for those who dare be so bold as to not toe the line.
posted by clevershark at 8:46 AM on August 3, 2004


Once the war with Eastasia is over...

You are mistaken. We have always been at war with Eurasia.
posted by clevershark at 8:48 AM on August 3, 2004


remember how churchill, learning from intelligence that the germans would bomb coventry, immediately broadcast that fact far and wide? /sarcasm

when you learn of an enemy's plans, you do not make them public. you work to disrupt them, preferably in a manner which does not reveal to the enemy the fact that you are reading his communications.

terror alerts are fucking stupid, cynical, political grandstanding and americans are fucking morons for swallowing them.
posted by quonsar at 8:50 AM on August 3, 2004


and they hadn't said anything..... I can hear it now.

Exactly my point: CYA.

This administration has been unable to step up and take accountability for or ownership of anything, from pre-911 warnings ignored, to claims of WMD, to Abu Ghraib, to Valerie Plame, the list grows and grows. So if (God forbid) there is another terrorist attack while they are still in power, this at least gives them some wiggle room in saying, "well, we told you it was coming."

Harry S Truman once said, "the buck stops here." Was he the last president we've had that actually felt that way?
posted by psmealey at 8:55 AM on August 3, 2004


I wonder what people in the Midwest think about this.
If they think about this.

Please clarify your comment, because it sure sounds like you mean that people in the Midwest are stupid.



I think the concern is more that it's more difficult, once you get out of the bigger cities, to get out of the corporate lockdown on the flow of information. If you had little choice but to watch, say, Fux News & listen to, oh, Rush for your information on the outside world (and if everyone you knew did the same, and you were less tempted by the web or what few other avenues you had handy), you might give less weight to news items like this than other people who are fear the snowjob more than any ever-impending foreign attack.

It's not stupidity, not by a long shot. It's lack of easy access to more information sources.

So if people even in the we-only-get-one-radio-station-out-here parts of the country are smelling a rat, well, that gives a little hope.
posted by chicobangs at 9:02 AM on August 3, 2004


and they hadn't said anything..... I can hear it now.

You know what? It is the fucking government's job to prevent these attacks. How are we losing sight of this? How is the most powerful nation possibly in the history of mankind so at the mercy of a relative handful of lunatics with, at most, a few laptops and box cutters?

Tell me, please, what specific purpose warning the American public of a possible attack in this manner possibly accomplishes - beyond scaring them half to death.
posted by kgasmart at 9:03 AM on August 3, 2004


terror alerts are fucking stupid, cynical, political grandstanding and americans are fucking morons for swallowing them.

Folks, we have a winner. That statement wins on its sheer blunt and direct qualities.

Runner up

...That's reasonable. Shutting down New York City isn't. Considering the impact such a thing has on a city, we might as well have comitted a terrorist act on ourselves.

True statement. It no longer takes an actual terrorist attack to shut down and disrupt. You don't even need a real, tangible threat anymore. You could probably mention a few places aand put the word bomb in an e-mail associated with them and spawn a terror alert.
posted by a3matrix at 9:07 AM on August 3, 2004


What I have seen this morning seems reasonable:

1) al-Qaeda has been planning these operations for at least four years. This does not mean that their plan is four years old. The "four years old" suggestion was made by "an anonymous source."

2) The information used to determine that an attack was imminent, or nearly so, was determined from *three* sources, two arrested at *different times* in Pakistan, and one arrested in London:

(from philly.com (subscription, and difficult URL)) (email login: phil@philly.com password: philly) (actual URL after login: http://tinyurl.com/6kcdt ) (if it doesn't work, get new login/password from bugmenot.com )

"...Two were pivotal figures arrested last month in Pakistan in separate raids where documentary evidence also was captured, the officials said. The more important of the two was an al-Qaeda computer engineer who relayed communications to network members, they said. The third is in British custody and is cooperating, (U.S. and Pakistani officials) said..."
posted by kablam at 9:10 AM on August 3, 2004


What advice can you give to a flawed system? Really now, what does a generic 'terror warning' do for the populace? I'm not going to dive into conspiracy theories other than the fact that the alerts themselves are worded in a way which politicizes them, but it just seems another case of 'covering our asses.'

What we need is to stop this ridiculous "privitize security or I wont sign the bill" nonsense Bush pulled with airline security. We need legislation to protect chemical plants. We need leglislation for ever present "port threat." In other words we need nasty 'big government' and *gasp* well paid security people actually addressing our vulnerable points.
posted by skallas at 9:11 AM on August 3, 2004


It no longer takes an actual terrorist attack to shut down and disrupt. You don't even need a real, tangible threat anymore. You could probably mention a few places and put the word bomb in an e-mail associated with them and spawn a terror alert.

Well, now certainly some enterprising people know what to do when the GOP come to town later this month--a taste of their own medicine surely wouldn't hurt, would it?
posted by amberglow at 9:14 AM on August 3, 2004


Really now, what does a generic 'terror warning' do for the populace?

It lets us know our government loves us and is caring for us, all the time. That's what they mean when they say pimpin' ain't easy, bra.
posted by chicobangs at 9:15 AM on August 3, 2004


From Newsday's Knut Royce (who has great sources):

... an al-Qaida operative has told British intelligence that the group's target date is early September, intelligence sources said yesterday.

The operative, described as "credible" by British intelligence, told his debriefers that the attack would take place "60 days before the presidential election" on Nov. 2, according to a former senior National Security Council official. On Sept. 2 President George W. Bush is expected to address the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden.


On preview: everyone say goodbye to Amberglow. We'll try to send you cookies at gitmo.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:20 AM on August 3, 2004


terror alerts are fucking stupid, cynical, political grandstanding and americans are fucking morons for swallowing them.

Couldn't agree more. trouble is even the usually cynical British public are getting the same treatment with these new 'duck and cover' leaflets being sent out.

It's not even a sign of the times - it's just the way of the world. The powers that be are in total control while trying to give Joe public the impression that they are free and liberated etc etc etc blah blah blah...

Correct me if I'm wrong but I can't think of any Tyrant who told his people they were going to war to oppress and trample over the conquered.
posted by twistedonion at 9:21 AM on August 3, 2004


I didn't say I would do it, Cunning (I'm too pretty for jail)--I do know, tho, there are millions of people--both here in the city, and coming for the protests, that could possibly do it. Surely it's occurred to them? No? They're not as astute as the Bush administration?
posted by amberglow at 9:24 AM on August 3, 2004


It no longer takes an actual terrorist attack to shut down and disrupt.

Isn't this the explicit goal of terrorists to being with? To make everyone terrified? We're letting them win, people.
posted by jpoulos at 9:25 AM on August 3, 2004


The funny thing is, every time the current administration tries to scare us with the big bad terrorists that apparently have them crapping their pants, the more it demonstrates the need to replace these frightened incompetents with someone who can enact reasonable measures of protection rather than jumping up and down shouting that the sky is falling.
posted by rushmc at 9:30 AM on August 3, 2004


I'm actually very curious to see if they'll be brazen enough to try the same BS on election day.

Here's one scenario.
posted by homunculus at 9:34 AM on August 3, 2004


Psychophant
posted by goethean at 9:34 AM on August 3, 2004


My Crook-O-Meter tends to go off whenever a Republican speaks on TV, except for one guy: John McCain.

So, Administration, I would be more than happy to look over my shoulder and buy extra duct tape if you could get McCain to go on TV and make your terror speeches. If you can convince him that you have a real and credible threat, he can convince me.

Otherwise, y'all are acting like Old Man Swigger from any given Scooby-Doo episode. When I was driving around NY on Sunday, I half expected to see Ridge running around in a bed sheet yelling, "Booo! Here be ghooooOOoosstsss!" in an effort to get rid of all those damn kids and their questions. If I saw McCain, I would be half way to the Bronx before he could finishing saying, "I think this area is currently at a high risk for an attack."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:35 AM on August 3, 2004


Ambiguous, color-coded nationwide alerts are simply ridiculous, a way to keep the public in fear of constant "terror war". Orwellian.

Doesn't anyone remember the story "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"? Anyone? Hmmm.

Someone explain to me why there are enhanced terror warnings in Upper New Jersey, Washington D.C., and New York, yet we are now letting everyone into the Statue of Liberty for the first time since September 11th when it was closed previously because it was a terrorist target? This administration makes no sense..

The way I understand it for the security colors being posted daily. These alerts; red, orange, yellow & ect are for the authorities to look at, not the ordinary public. Can’t find a supporting link yet recall during the spring it being clearly explained on the news that these alert status were for the police and such to look at.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:36 AM on August 3, 2004


So is there anyone who sees another side to this? Anyone agree with the terror alert system? Is there another side to this argument? If the color system is just for the authorities, then why is it being broadcast just before the weather on ever local newscast?

I really do want to hear the other side of this discussion if it exists.

All of us agree here, it seems, and yet it's still happening and being reported as gospel truth.
posted by chicobangs at 9:39 AM on August 3, 2004


These alerts; red, orange, yellow & ect are for the authorities to look at, not the ordinary public

Is this true? It seems at odds with managing human behavior if so. Unless law enforcement is chasing down a specific threat, they should be at the same level of vigilance today that they were on Sept 10, 2001, in other words, everyone should be doing their fucking jobs at a high level of alertness and competence. All the color coding system would seem to tell them is when it's okay to make four trips to the donut shop instead of three.
posted by psmealey at 9:44 AM on August 3, 2004


I really do want to hear the other side of this discussion if it exists.

The only other side I can concievably see, is well, God help us, if we're wrong and there actually is something going on. But otherwise I'm kind of at a loss. I'm walking distance from most of the targets mentioned. What am I supposed to do exactly? Look worried? Drink heavily?

I understand that simply hoping a terrorist attack dosen't happen is a crappy policy, but just making a show and coming up with nifty code words dosen't do anything either. I'd be interested in what the cops guarding these places actually think about whether their talents could be put to better use elsewhere.
posted by jonmc at 9:45 AM on August 3, 2004


Surprised nobody has mentioned that this announcement also came as a result of the July Surprise capture.

This information probably could have been found some time ago, but we asked Pakistan to make sure it happened now.
posted by destro at 9:48 AM on August 3, 2004


ALERT! This just in... Bush Administration informs us that they have new information that the Japanese plan to bomb Pearl Harbor!!!!
posted by terrapin at 9:57 AM on August 3, 2004


chicobangs, I give them the benefit of the doubt. For all I know a building just blew up as I'm typing this, but isn't this system just a big admission that this administration isn't doing its job in protecting us? It seems to be to be an admission of failure every time Ridge fires up the big HomeSec bullhorn to yell, "Shit is coming down the wire!!"

I'm more interested in what's going on the federal level to harden sites, catch real terrorists not kill Iraqi insurgents, etc.
posted by skallas at 10:03 AM on August 3, 2004


Please clarify your comment, because it sure sounds like you mean that people in the Midwest are stupid.


I think the concern is more that it's more difficult, once you get out of the bigger cities, to get out of the corporate lockdown on the flow of information.


Yeah, because we're all a bunch of hicks out here in the midwest.
posted by gyc at 10:06 AM on August 3, 2004


Yeah, you know, I was just thinking that, gyc.

I was trying to get off that point. Nobody here really buys that lie anymore, even in jest, and it doesn't matter to the conversation anyway. (FWIW, I know more hicks in New York than I ever did anywhere else. Ignorance is everywhere, and you misunderestimate it at your peril. I was trying answer a question and make a point about media saturation that is now completely lost and pointless.

Never mind.)
posted by chicobangs at 10:18 AM on August 3, 2004


"I think the concern is more that it's more difficult, once you get out of the bigger cities, to get out of the corporate lockdown on the flow of information."

Are you really that dumb, or just backpedaling?
posted by Outlawyr at 10:19 AM on August 3, 2004


never mind
posted by Outlawyr at 10:20 AM on August 3, 2004


You don't even need a real, tangible threat anymore. You could probably mention a few places aand put the word bomb in an e-mail associated with them and spawn a terror alert.

Yes and no. Sadly, I think it likely that numerous communications (including emails) authored by actual terrorists go unnoticed by homeland security every day...


Well, now certainly some enterprising people know what to do when the GOP come to town later this month--a taste of their own medicine surely wouldn't hurt, would it?

...but if the administration consists of the diabolical fascists you claim them to be, they should have read your comment and been on their way to arrest and deny you basic civil liberties, no? Good idea, though. I can tell you really care about defending American soil.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:25 AM on August 3, 2004


Krrrlson, put words into your own mouth, not mine. If you think these warnings by Ridge are defending anything except their political asses, you're mistaken. They do nothing to keep us safer, and are also costing NYC millions in overtime--money needed for schools and other basic services--money not being provided by the administration.
posted by amberglow at 10:32 AM on August 3, 2004


We didn't screw up! No, no, no, the threat is still real. Them bad people's want to kill us all and steal our BMW's and Benz's. Of course the targets haven't really changed much and that's why the alert is still "relevant" according to Tom Ridge but so what. These fools are living in the past and they're either too stupid or too lazy to check the date of the terror alerts before stirring up some more fear in the nation.

I expect nothing less than buffoonery from this government now.
posted by fenriq at 10:33 AM on August 3, 2004


I'm with jpoulos and a few others here: The very idea of alerts is deeply suspect, at best.

If there is genuinely specific information, then a network of relevant officials and institutions (police and fire departments, Coast Guard posts, park police, National Guard commanders, etc.) should be notified via a pre-established protocol. They can pass the information on to the public as appropriate, in their own local context -- they are, after all, the agents who'll have to deal with the shit.

Yes, there is a risk that something "will happen." But even in this "dangerous age", that risk is substantially lower than the combined risk of other essentially un-preventable disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, plane/train/truck crashes, bursting dams, lightning strikes, etc. We accept these risks; yet if anyone even publicly broaches the subject of dealing with terrorist risk in the same way, as Schneier recently did, they're subjected to public vilification.

As an aside, shouldn't we wonder why we aren't also willing to accept the risk of terrorist attacks? I have my own theories, but I won't go into them here.

The real beauty part of manipulating the public via terror alerts is that the people who are responsible for setting the machine in motion probably don't even understand that's why they're doing it. These ruling Neocons (like most ideologues) are profoundly un-self-aware folks; they really truly think they're acting purely in the interest of the country. That, of course, makes them that much more dangerous...
posted by lodurr at 10:53 AM on August 3, 2004


The public terror alert system is inherently counterintuitive. Any actionable intelligence would necessarily be specific, in terms of both location and timing. This very specificity of location makes a nationwide alert system unnecessary: why increase the level of security in Los Angeles if the information is specific to New York? The public alert system, as it stands, is poorly conceived; it doesn't seem to take this fundamental reality into account. A superior system would streamline communication between Federal intelligence agencies, Federal law enforcement agencies, and local law enforcement and emergency response agencies. There's really no need to let me, a private citizen in Seattle, know about information the government has received about potential terrorist activity in New Jersey. It's nonsensical.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:54 AM on August 3, 2004


Maybe someone can justify issuing trumped-up and just plain false threats to citizens that their routines may be disrupted, their cities torn apart and their loved ones killed in their office buildings. Maybe someone thinks this is a fair way to fight, and that the Bush administration does the country so much good that it's worth it for them to do these kinds of things to stay in power. But no one can go around saying these threats are credible anymore. No one can argue with a straight face that the Bush-Cheney administration is interested in truth.

(Or can they?)

By the way, I'm from the Midwest and I'd like to know what they think of all this, too. That's not saying they're stupid. It's saying you'd like to know why they still overwhelmingly support Bush.
posted by judlew at 11:00 AM on August 3, 2004


jonmc: What am I supposed to do exactly? Look worried? Drink heavily?

Come on, don't you know the answer to that one before you ask it?

I mean, think about it, man. When is 'Looking worried' ever better than drinking heavily?
posted by lodurr at 11:03 AM on August 3, 2004


Apropos twistedonion's link:

http://www.preparingforemergencies.co.uk/


'This campaign is not in response to a particular threat, unless you count the threat from the Liberal Democrats.'

Which is what most of us see in our mind's eye when presented with the government leaflet.
posted by asok at 11:05 AM on August 3, 2004


patriotboy writes to Ridge
posted by amberglow at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2004



posted by wfrgms at 11:20 AM on August 3, 2004


...shouldn't we wonder why we aren't also willing to accept the risk of terrorist attacks? I have my own theories, but I won't go into them here.
Please do, if you don't mind. I'd like to hear some thoughts on this.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:21 AM on August 3, 2004


As an aside, shouldn't we wonder why we aren't also willing to accept the risk of terrorist attacks?

Well, psychologically speaking, natural disasters are acts of nature, and car wrecks we've more or less chalked up to the vagaries of chance. Terrorist attacks are acts of will, which people find more disturbing. After all, a hurricane isn't deliberately targeting you, you're just in it's way.
posted by jonmc at 11:28 AM on August 3, 2004


then why is it being broadcast just before the weather on ever local newscast?
Besides an all news channel, I take this being on your local stations. Do they broadcast it on HBO, USA, TNT & other cable access channels?
posted by thomcatspike at 11:31 AM on August 3, 2004


I've been trying to find a link for this info, but to no avail:
Re: Howard Dean's comments Sunday---When asked if he believes the Bush administration hyped the terrorist threat, a senior foreign policy advisor to John Kerry said quickly and flatly "no".
Don't forget that Kerry is now, as the Democratic nominee, receiving regular national-security briefings.
posted by Vidiot at 11:35 AM on August 3, 2004


ALERT! This just in... Bush Administration informs us that they have new information that the Japanese plan to bomb Pearl Harbor!!!!

heh. The japanese plan to bomb Pearl was about 10 years old and was being updated alot between 1940-41. The plan came from a a mock exercise we conducted against Pearl in 1934. It was augmented from open source material of the Taranto raid of 1940. Also the plan was updated when the U.S. intercepted signals about Japanese spies at Pearl.
The Honolulu Star-bulletin gave updates on the fleet movement.

Joseph Grew heard of the attack from the Peruvian minister to Japan in January, 1941.

Yamamotos plan also proceeded with the oil embargo diplomatic crises.

Who needs foreign terrorism when we can just make our own!

your an ignorant person whom has no concept of intelligence and it's intention. You also flame your own posts which really makes you look like a clown. Do some research for a change.

recent intelligence traffic suggests that Al Qaeda may act on it soon"

Absolutely not true. All we know is that these targets were looked at in the distant past and that terrorists apparently gather and occasionally update intelligence on possible targets, in part from publicly available information online.

That is much different than recent intelligence saying that these targets may soon be attacked


yes, i am sure the enemy is going to make it real easy for us. You looking for the 'go-code" sport or are you hanging your rhetorical hat on proof. Plans can be known, when they are executed is another matter.
posted by clavdivs at 11:44 AM on August 3, 2004


There is, I think, a message to the madness. The color-coded alert system is in itself a protective measure, regardless of any added vigilance it inspires in law enforcement or the citizenry. If a terrorist group is planning a major action, and the week before it is to happen Ridge suddenly announces that the threat level has been elevated to Orange, the theory is obviously that the terrorists will assume their cover has been blown and call it off. The alert's vagueness is an asset in this regard. Our occasional intelligence successes are evidence to the terrorists that, yeah, we could know. Maybe we don't, but why would a terrorist take the chance? It could be effective to just raise the alert level more or less at random, on the assumption that terrorists are always planning something.

I think it's possible, even likely, that the alerts have already deterred at least one attack. Causing fear in the public is likely to be a side effect, not the primary purpose, of the alerts. The problem for the public gauging effectiveness is, how do you count terrorist actions that didn't happen? Are we safer with the alerts than we would be without them? Hard for us great unwashed to tell, since we can't see the alternate history that would have unfolded without them.
posted by kindall at 11:44 AM on August 3, 2004


The threats may be real but trying to maintain an elevated level of terror alert is just not possible. Its partially culture and its partially the realities of the world but we Americans are a highly distractable lot.

But its easier to stir up the hand wringing masses if you keep the terror level cranked right up. Toss in some vague warnings about financial centers and other spots and there's a good portion of the populance that's not thinking about replacing the president, they just want to live through the night.
posted by fenriq at 11:50 AM on August 3, 2004


Let not the bad color be seen, wfrgms.
posted by emelenjr at 12:13 PM on August 3, 2004


"your an ignorant person whom has no concept of intelligence and it's intention."

I think you mean "who".

"You looking for the 'go-code" sport or are you hanging your rhetorical hat on proof. Plans can be known, when they are executed is another matter."

Right. So we should overreact to 4 year old plans because the only other possibility is to wait till we find the 'go-code', whatever that is. Is your world so black and white?
posted by Outlawyr at 12:45 PM on August 3, 2004


"your an ignorant person whom has no concept of intelligence and it's intention."

I think he meant to say "you're" instead of "your", "who" instead of "whom", and "mispelling and bad logic" instead of "intelligence".
posted by destro at 1:04 PM on August 3, 2004


"your an ignorant person whom has no concept of intelligence and it's intention."

I think he meant to say "you're" instead of "your", "who" instead of "whom", and "mispelling and bad logic" instead of "intelligence".


Not to mention its instead of it's.
posted by swift at 1:25 PM on August 3, 2004


You know, the your/you're and its/it's thing I'll forgive. The "whom" for some reason really grates on me. Like he thought it would sound more fancy or something.
And before anyone beats me to it:
Metafilter: your an ignorant person whom has no concept of intelligence and it's intention.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:30 PM on August 3, 2004


clav will totally skullfuck your grammar and spelling lessons.
posted by jpoulos at 1:51 PM on August 3, 2004


Terrorist Alert Level: Red Herring!

That's not what Tom Ridge says.
posted by hama7 at 3:51 PM on August 3, 2004


And we trust him because...?
posted by casarkos at 4:01 PM on August 3, 2004


Tom Ridge also said the information was due to President Bush's great leadership in the war on terror even though much of the information the alert was based on was very old, even dating back to 2000.

My point is, Tom Ridge says a lot of things. Lots of people in government do.
posted by nath at 4:08 PM on August 3, 2004


Ridge--August 3rd: "We don't do politics at Homeland Security."

Ridge-July 14th: "We don't do politics at Homeland Security." -- when he last issued a warning.

It would be nice to hear Ridge talk about all the things his department should be doing to make us safer, and whether any progress is being made at all. We never ever hear about that--the real work that needs to be done.
posted by amberglow at 4:26 PM on August 3, 2004


It could be effective to just raise the alert level more or less at random, on the assumption that terrorists are always planning something.

Only if you assume that the terrorists are stupider than the average Metafiltarian and can't see through such a blatant ruse, which I would question.
posted by rushmc at 5:18 PM on August 3, 2004


Democrats on the Warpath
posted by homunculus at 5:29 PM on August 3, 2004


Today: elevated list of pacifist leftist wise-asses. Hope Metafilter's containment field can keep it all from spilling out into the real world...
posted by ParisParamus at 5:36 PM on August 3, 2004


Today: Code Dark Blue: elevated risk of pacifist leftist wise-asses spouting off. Hope Metafilter's containment field can keep it all from spilling out into the real world...
posted by ParisParamus at 5:38 PM on August 3, 2004


It's not only us pacifist leftist wise-asses that spout off here. You're pretty good at it.
posted by amberglow at 5:58 PM on August 3, 2004


Please clarify your comment, because it sure sounds like you mean that people in the Midwest are stupid.
... Just roll your eyes. Does it really matter if someone doesn't respect the Midwest?

What strikes me as odd about this announcement is that it is so specific. If you have a list of 10 buildings to protect, you don't really need to warn the nation: you re-route traffic, use some surveillance and hopefully catch yourself some terrorists.

By telling the whole nation that these specific buildings are targets, you're alerting the terrorists that you are on to them. I just don't think nice Mr. XYZ selling papers on Wall Street is going to crack Al Quada and make the world save for democracy.

Why is Tom Ridge publicizing this now if not to set up a straw man?
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:56 PM on August 3, 2004


"It's not only us pacifist leftist wise-asses that spout off here. You're pretty good at it." I am a Reality Check for yoos.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:15 PM on August 3, 2004


Today: Code Dark Blue:....

Nice touch, adding the color like that. Almost like you're trying to compete.
posted by destro at 8:50 PM on August 3, 2004


Homeland Security called me, apparently my bedroom is code orange. I am eying my wife suspiciously.
posted by Slagman at 9:13 PM on August 3, 2004


Does she have a turban and beard? (if not even the secret service knows the difference bet sikhs and muslims, we're in trouble) : <
posted by amberglow at 9:31 PM on August 3, 2004


Homeland Security called me, apparently my bedroom is code orange. I am eying my wife suspiciously.

Mitch Hedberg?
posted by sudama at 9:59 PM on August 3, 2004


Krrrlson, put words into your own mouth, not mine.

What words? I was merely contrasting your attempts at "serious discussion" with your immature and childish insinuation that it would be somehow funny or useful to cause fake terrorist threat alerts during the RNC.

If you think these warnings by Ridge are defending anything except their political asses, you're mistaken.

Now it is you who are putting words into my mouth. I said nothing of the sort.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:31 PM on August 3, 2004


we might as well have comitted a terrorist act on ourselves

Insomnia… I'm tellin’! /whiny little brother voice
posted by Dick Paris at 3:05 AM on August 4, 2004


OK, so, why are we unwilling to treat terrorist risk the same way we treat other risk? I think jonmc's notion (that it's because terrorism is an act of will) gets part of the way there, but doesn't close the loop: Why should it bother us that it's an act of will?

Let's look at other risk factors that we (mostly) refuse to treat realistically. And I'm just riffing and giving my own impressions, here, of course, because every risk has its obsessives: People who build elaborate tornado shelters, never go out in direct sunlight to avoid skin cancer, or won't touch alcohol due to the slight elevation in risk of throat cancer that it carries with it.

The biggest is crime. People (particularly suburban people with some disposable income) will go to really extraordinary lengths to resist or escape crime. Crime is also an act of will. Again, jonmc's point is backed up.

But there's more to it than that: The crimes that people fear are more than just acts of will, they're expressions of dominance. Americans love to understand everything in terms of dominance and the expression of will over others. It drives both our brighter and darker impulses; it leads us to struggle to uplift people (viz the Edwards, Sharpton and Baraka speeches at the DemCon), and resistence to anything we perceive as dominance by others is the primary driver to our foreign policy. We're loathe to be bound by treaties we don't propose (and loathe to be bound by them even then), and we will never, ever, ever, suffer our soldiers to be commanded by others. (Please spare detailed examples of cases where we have allowed that -- I'm talking about impressions, here.)

Think about attitudes toward crime. Think about all the people you know who are terrified that some large frightening unwashed man with bad grammar and vocabulary is going to ROB THEM. Or that someone is going to take advantage of them, somehow. Think of rape.

Then turn that around and think of rape fantasies, crime fantasies, anti-heroes. We embrace our darker natures while pretending to resist them. We long to become what we behold.

This is a basically adolescent mindset, of course. We're terrified that someone is going to tell us what to do and then make us do it, all the while yearning for a strong good father figure to beat up our strong dark father (or mother) figure.

In other words, I agree with jon, except that I think it's a lot more sick and twisted than just being afraid of the will of an unknown other.
posted by lodurr at 4:25 AM on August 4, 2004


"New Qaeda Activity Is Said to Be Major Factor in Alert
By DOUGLAS JEHL and RICHARD W. STEVENSON

Published: August 4, 2004

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 - Senior government officials said Tuesday that new intelligence pointing to a current threat of a terrorist attack on financial targets in New York and possibly in Washington - not just information about surveillance on specific buildings over the years - was a major factor in the decision over the weekend to raise the terrorism alert level.

The officials said the separate stream of intelligence, which they had not previously disclosed, reached the White House only late last week and was part of a flow that the officials said had prompted them to act urgently in the last few days.


In other words, there are a lot of cynical wise-asses present in this Metafilter thread.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:45 AM on August 4, 2004


Hmmm...isn't that convenient. Why didn't they mention that earlier? They just pulled this bullshit out of their ass when called on the ancient evidence. Spinning us for fun and profit, and reelection.

There are a lot of cynical wise-asses present in the administration, too.
posted by amberglow at 5:35 AM on August 4, 2004


Oh, Paris? Each time an alert comes out, it just starkly and sadly reinforces the fact that we're not safer at all, belying one of Bush's reelection talking points (and, apparently, a perceived strength of his).

Think about that while you're believing what they say.
posted by amberglow at 5:41 AM on August 4, 2004


That Ridge asshole didn't even distribute a PowerPoint presentation listing in detail each of the reasons for the "terror" alert. What a total joke.
posted by shoos at 12:40 PM on August 4, 2004


In other words, there are a lot of cynical wise-asses present in this Metafilter thread.

Are you suggesting we have no reason to be cynical?

I'm curious, by the way-- what's the source for that article lead you posted? You didn't provide a link.
posted by nath at 3:05 PM on August 4, 2004


NYT?
posted by shoos at 4:51 PM on August 4, 2004


I'm suggesting you have no wisdom.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:05 PM on August 4, 2004


There's a difference between being cynical, and being smart and/or sarcastic. The former is much easier to pull off, and reeks of 12th Grade or college freshman "sophistication." Lots of people's intellectual development ends at that stage, especially here on Metafilter.

Too bad.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:10 PM on August 4, 2004


With an administration that's been lying since the campaign of 2000 (i'm a uniter, not a divider, compassionate conservatism...), cynicism is the best defense besides utter disbelief. Anyone who blindly buys their bullshit (on any topic--from Iraq to the economy to terror) should really not be talking about education or intellectual development.
posted by amberglow at 5:53 PM on August 4, 2004


There's a difference between being cynical, and being smart and/or sarcastic. The former is much easier to pull off, and reeks of 12th Grade or college freshman "sophistication." Lots of people's intellectual development ends at that stage, especially here on Metafilter.

This sounds like cynicism to me. I'm guessing you also know the definition of irony as well too?

And back to the point at hand - why didn't they mention this current information before? Will they share any of it with us you think? Don't forget this is coming right after the predicted "July Surprise", so I think we have plenty of reason to be suspicious.
posted by destro at 7:05 PM on August 4, 2004


Why not? How about because it divulges a greater scope of intelligence.

No destro, that's objective analysis, not cynicism. You prove my point. In spades.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:51 AM on August 5, 2004


Breslin calls it correctly, as usual: Right away in the morning, George Bush's wife and daughters rushed up from Washington to stand bravely in the front of all those cameras. It was not for the election. They truly wanted to stand with New Yorkers and be incinerated, the same as anybody else.

It probably was the one most fraudulent act we have had since the World Trade Center bombing, and at that time, Bush himself got up on a destroyed fire engine and pretended to be tough. While not saying that he froze during the attack.


Think about that--if the threat had been real, would the Bush's wife and children actually have been inside one of the targeted buildings? It would not have been allowed.
posted by amberglow at 8:22 AM on August 5, 2004


I suppose it's easier to just dismiss that with which you disagree as on a lower intellectual level than to actually engage it.

Personally I stand by the saying that if you scratch a cynic you'll find a disappointed idealist underneath-- none of this faux-postmodern wannabe-hipster jaded-detachment irony, but real and profound disappointment that what is falls so short of what could be.
posted by nath at 2:14 PM on August 5, 2004


These terror alert levels are pointless.
posted by moonbiter at 12:05 PM on August 6, 2004


Pakistan: U.S. blew undercover operation--
Al-Qaida suspect was secretly cooperating with counterrorist sting
The al-Qaida suspect named by U.S. officials as the source of information that led to this week’s terrorist alerts was working undercover, Pakistani intelligence sources said Friday, putting an end to the sting operation and forcing Pakistan to hide the man in a secret location. ...
Intelligence and security experts said they were surprised that Washington would reveal information that could expose the name of a source during an ongoing law enforcement operation.
“If it’s true that the Americans have unintentionally revealed the identity of another nation’s intelligence agent, who appears to be working in the good of all of us, that is not only a fundamental intelligence flaw. It’s also a monumental foreign relations blunder,” security expert Paul Beaver, a former publisher of Jane’s Defense Weekly, told Reuters.

posted by amberglow at 9:20 AM on August 7, 2004


Having recently received what I thought was a joke pamphlet (pdf) through my door brings to my mind this ridiculous fear people have of terrorism. I grew up with the constant threat of IRA bombs over here in the UK (I lived very close to the Grand Hotel in Brighton which the IRA bombed in October 1984) and all I can think of when I hear terror alerts is "so what?"

The chances of being injured in one of these random events is microscopic. Any time we (be it the UK or US or any other "target" nation) react with anything other than a shrug the terrorists win. Falsely drumming up fear and paranoia simply plays into the hands of those who would do us harm - whoever they may be.

It may sound extraordinarily callous, but shit happens. Yes we should pro-actively hunt terrorists (via intelligence and police/covert actions) but to create a situation whereby my grandparents would be afraid to leave the house because of some non-specific possibility of a chance of a threat simply makes us out to be fools.

Those who claim the Spanish are simply playing into the hands of terrorism by withdrawing from Iraq obviously have not looked around them to see the effect of these constant Peter and the Wolf cries have on the people around them.

And FYI Mr Blair - next time you feel the urge to post some random fear-inducing crap to me make sure you use the same paper as this latest example - it's great roach material...
posted by longbaugh at 4:11 PM on August 7, 2004


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