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Connect the dots, la la la la, connect the dots... ha ha!
August 5, 2004 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Timeline of Terror Alerts. A collected list of political events over the last two years and the action from the Department of Homeland Security that occured within 24 hours of each event. Readers have even submitted more examples in the comments. Partisan exploitation of numerous coincidences? Or a developing pattern?
posted by XQUZYPHYR (24 comments total)

 
I'm mixed on the list. Some cases are a bit of a stretch:
May 12, 2003 -- Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who was the top civil administrator in Iraq, left his post and other senior officials were also replaced. Source

May 20, 2003 - The United States raises the nation's terror threat level Tuesday, saying the U.S. intelligence community believes al Qaeda has entered an "operational period worldwide" and might attack within the US.
An 8-day span seems to have no correlation.

Others seem less ambiguous:
May 19, 2004 -- Nothing but bad news about prisoner abuse in Iraq, including breaking news that the Pentagon was told about the abuses back in November. Senate Armed Forces Committee holds hearings on Abu Ghraib abuses.

May 20, 2004 - United States goes on Orange Alert.
A lot of people have been talking/joking about these coincidences, I think this is the first case on the internet where someone actually went ahead and started compiling the list.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:59 AM on August 5, 2004


Yes. I'm thinking the current alerts have more to do with the news recently come and threatening to come out of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay than with the 'filthy debacle' of the DNC as well.
posted by sudama at 8:04 AM on August 5, 2004


I started one of these too, but find it too hard to find/remember what was the big story all over the news that day and the day before, except for most recently. I think if he went to cnn transcripts and the lead story on the evening news all over the country for just before the warnings were announced, it'd be clearer. There's also information and tips given to the war room for Bush's re-election that may have triggered the warnings even before the news they wanted bumped off the air got on the air.
posted by amberglow at 8:15 AM on August 5, 2004


I don't know. There's so much bad news for this administration, it's like shooting fish in a barrel to make these connections.
posted by fletchmuy at 8:23 AM on August 5, 2004


Two problems: (1) Does this include all the terror alerts? It's easy to pick and choose those that seem to correlate with political events, but if we ignore terror alerts that don't seem to correlate with big stories, then we're just seeing what we want to see. (2) Relatedly, as the numbers of both terror alerts and unfavorable news stories rise, it becomes more and more likely that there would be some correlation in the dates. If there were only one or two major unfavorable stories in the last year, and only a few terror alerts, which only followed those stories, we would have real reason to be cynical. Here, I'm not so sure.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:33 AM on August 5, 2004


Since John Kerry "cinched" the nomination, hasn't it been in the interest of his campaign to have his name on the front page every single day? My point being that when could a Homeland Security (I still hate that name) announcement have been made that *wouldn't* have been within a three- or four-day occurance of *something*?
In addition to the Kerry campaign, the 9-11 commission was actively hearing testimony, the Abu Gharaid scandal was developing in fits and starts, events were happening in Iraq, and any number of other things that accusations of "cover" or "cover-up" can be made.

Metafilter would be an excellent example. When was the last *day* on which nobody posted something to Metafilter that *wasn't* blatantly partisan. (And if you respond, "Oh, no, that wasn't partisan, that was "news", you are blind.)

Coincidences everywhere.
posted by kablam at 8:34 AM on August 5, 2004


Since John Kerry "cinched" the nomination, hasn't it been in the interest of his campaign to have his name on the front page every single day? My point being that when could a Homeland Security (I still hate that name) announcement have been made that *wouldn't* have been within a three- or four-day occurance of *something*?

Nope. It's not up to Kerry--it's up to the media. Kerry has only been issue #1 on TV and on front pages when something big has happened, or the latest Drudge fake scandal-du-jour has gotten play, which has not been much. Every single day, Kerry has rallies and press events, and they're not made into a big issue unless something odd happens. It's about what the biggest issue of the day is, and what the terror alerts knock off--Kerry naming Edwards was one of the rare ones when it was all about Kerry. The convention was another. That's pretty much it. Dean (who's not even running) still gets more airtime than Kerry, at least on CNN, I think. And Bush certainly does.
posted by amberglow at 8:42 AM on August 5, 2004


Even if there were a relation between an event and an alert, there's also the problem of justification. Abu Ghraib news followed by an alert - is the alert a political ploy to divert attention from the news, or a prudent action considering the possibility the news might provoke a terrorist reaction?

There can be more than one valid explanation for these correlations. It's interesting, but proves nothing.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:49 AM on August 5, 2004


One thing I never understood is why the Ohio Sniper or the Smiley-Face Mailbox Bomber never rated increased terror warning levels. Frankly, almost more damning than this list of warnings and associated events, is the fact that such obvious things did not rate increased vigilance but 3 year old information confirmed by Some New Source does.
posted by ilsa at 8:52 AM on August 5, 2004


"Whenever Mrs Kissel breaks wind, we beat the dog."
posted by RavinDave at 8:58 AM on August 5, 2004


Yeah, and whenever political threat looms, Tom Ridge breaks wind via "Terror Alert" and then American consumers - appalled and frustrated by skyrocketting duct-tape and plastic sheeting prices - kick their dogs around and the yelping of the dogs, in turn, sets off car alarms that cause people to rush, in a panic, down to their basements to huddle in terror of an impending Al Qaeda assault. Then, the terror loosens their bowels and they let out great farts that - issuing from their grated basement windows not yet sealed of by plastic sheeting and duct tape (all sold out, alas) - is ignited when a passing homeless person tosses a still lit cigarette butt end and so the whole damn block goes up and Tom Ridge goes back on TV to break wind some more, blaming Al Qaeda.

And so it goes.

__________________________

Back to Metafilterian consensus reality : In such cases, the notion that such a timeline "proves" anything is a meaningless one, but the correlation is, I'd say, quite damning.

I'd like to see a comprehensive list of ALL Dept. of Homeland Security's Terror Alerts and threat warning levels modifications.

This existing list needs to be made much more rigorous - I'm inclined to believe the overall correlation ( though some of the individual examples may be shaky ) but this timeline would be far harder to dismiss if it were comprehensive, and if it were to actually present a range of the significant stories - in the days leading up to and after Terror Alerts - which might (or might not) be taken as correlating with those alerts.
posted by troutfishing at 9:28 AM on August 5, 2004


I would like to see a chart plotting Bush's poll standings over time, with the dates of all terror alerts called out. I think an interesting correlation might be found between dips in the pools, and alerts.
I wish had the time to do this sort of thing myself.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:33 AM on August 5, 2004



posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:00 AM on August 5, 2004


Since Bush doesn't make mistakes he'll be right no matter which one he chooses.
posted by Cyrano at 10:29 AM on August 5, 2004


seriously. the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" argument is weak-ass shit. try again.

why not make every day "baboon-ass red" alert (a la Conan last night) just to be safe? these alerts mean NOTHING to regular citizens. what should we do differently? increase our vigilance?

my guess is we'll see "baboon-ass red" sometime in late October/early November, if not on election day itself.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:08 PM on August 5, 2004


Y'know, our work would be so much simpler if we could get a copy of the Bush War room timeline data files. Their excel file probably shows the daily info we want to see: the top five news items, poll approval ratings, action taken: threat level increase, new reason to raise it, etc.

Oh, and there are no coincidences. Just odd facts that require a detective's heuristic skill. Ever not "see" something right in front of your face?
posted by goodhelp at 2:54 PM on August 5, 2004


my guess is we'll see "baboon-ass red" sometime in late October/early November, if not on election day itself.

I'm convinced that the Bush re-election strategy is to mobilize the base of religious right and rich people and then through terror alerts either scare everyone else into voting for him or scare them out of voting altogether.
posted by nath at 3:44 PM on August 5, 2004


I'm convinced that the Bush re-election strategy is to mobilize the base of religious right and rich people and then through terror alerts either scare everyone else into voting for him or scare them out of voting altogether.

Quick! Get to your polling place! It's the rapture--and there's free champagne! ; >
posted by amberglow at 3:55 PM on August 5, 2004


When fearmongering out does the other persons fearmongering do you win?
posted by rudyfink at 3:56 PM on August 5, 2004


I'd be perfectly pleased to see a rapture. Clear out the deadwood on this planet.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:45 PM on August 5, 2004


Remain calm!
posted by homunculus at 8:47 PM on August 5, 2004


When fearmongering out does the other persons fearmongering do you win?

Exsqueeze me? Baking powder?
posted by chrid at 4:53 AM on August 6, 2004


Meanwhile, U.S. blew undercover operation: Al-Qaida suspect was secretly cooperating with counterrorist sting.
posted by homunculus at 12:21 PM on August 7, 2004


here's a great list of what was in the news, and related terror alerts
posted by amberglow at 12:20 PM on August 8, 2004


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