The politics of terror.
October 13, 2005 1:32 PM   Subscribe

In the last three years there had been about 13 similar coincidences - a political downturn for the administration, followed by a “terror event” - a change in alert status, an arrest, a warning. We figured we’d better put that list of coincidences on the public record (.mov.)
posted by The Jesse Helms (37 comments total)
 
It's good to see this kind of thing being discussed in MSM and hopefully the questions will get louder and louder.
posted by drinkmaildave at 1:46 PM on October 13, 2005


The direct .mov download is kinda wonky, here's the torrent.
posted by cloeburner at 1:49 PM on October 13, 2005


I'll let you know what I think about that last link in seven hours when it's done downloading.

Alternately, Coral Cache could help.
posted by odinsdream at 1:49 PM on October 13, 2005


Do we recall the nasty associations connecting the NATO bombing of Serbian targets with Clinton embarrasments?

I don't dispute the uberweasliness of the current administration, but the dedicated conspiracy-theorist can McGuyver an FPP out of a butterfly fart.
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:56 PM on October 13, 2005


Anyone got a link to this as a chart/timeline?
posted by hank at 1:57 PM on October 13, 2005


I don't dispute the uberweasliness of the current administration, but the dedicated conspiracy-theorist can McGuyver an FPP out of a butterfly fart.

Especially when they are off their meds.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:00 PM on October 13, 2005


Items 12 and 13 make me wonder if Olbermann has lost it.
posted by eddydamascene at 2:04 PM on October 13, 2005


Do we recall the nasty associations connecting the NATO bombing of Serbian targets with Clinton embarrasments?

They also said he ordered strikes in the Sudan to distract from MonicaGate.
posted by dhoyt at 2:05 PM on October 13, 2005


Olbermann is one of the best television journalists working today and that piece is a great reminder why.

On preview: CynicalKnight, Olbermann references the possibility of coincidence before and after the piece. Could these events all be coincidental? Yep. But is it inappropriate to ask questions? Nope.
posted by blefr at 2:08 PM on October 13, 2005


It's not very scientifically rigorous, is it? The criteria seems to be "There is some piece of 'bad' news for the President (whatever that means), then some time within the next week or so there is some broadly defined 'terror event'."

OK. But how many weeks over the past few years have there been without some piece of "bad" news for the President? In order for this data to be meaningful, wouldn't we have to know the number of occasions in which there was "bad" news but there was no close-in-time "terror event"? My guess is that number would be pretty high. After all, Bush has had a lot more than 13 bad news days over the last four years.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:13 PM on October 13, 2005


they had to stop doing it for a while after Tom Ridge admitted it.--After leaving his position at Homeland Security, Tom Ridge acknowledged that the post 9/11 terror alerts were often based on "flimsy evidence" and that he had been pressured by the CIA to raise the threat level: ...
posted by amberglow at 2:21 PM on October 13, 2005


and here's a chart for you
posted by amberglow at 2:22 PM on October 13, 2005


You did not just reference Global Research as your evidence.
posted by dhoyt at 2:25 PM on October 13, 2005


In retrospect, the MOV file is something more balanced and thoughtfully composed than a butterfly fart.
My initial reaction was based on the phrase "terror event" implying in my mind actual terror attacks as opposed to foiled plots. I didn't believe the KGB was behind the apartment collapse in Moscow, and it will take a lot more substantial evidence before I believe the U.S. would fabricate a terrorist attack. That's movie talk.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:26 PM on October 13, 2005


The MOV clip is indeed very well thought-out, and worth the download. Use the torrent link provided earlier.
posted by odinsdream at 2:29 PM on October 13, 2005


They also said he ordered strikes in the Sudan to distract from MonicaGate

I wouldn't put that above someone who stopped a Presidential campaign just to execute a brain-damaged black man for the sake of the cameras, a big wet kiss to the oh-so-civilized kill'em all law-and-order voters

but then, one does not want to be too harsh with a Eisenhower Republican who actually managed to be elected twice. good times.
posted by matteo at 2:34 PM on October 13, 2005


dhoyt: You did not just reference Global Research as your evidence.

Yeah dhoyt, after your edifying citation of "they" in "they also said Clinton blah blah" I can see why you'd get irked at anyone with a source or link or anything.

I'm continually amazed at how the Bushophiles out there run to his defense with "well [terrorizing the American people to raise political support] is at least as bad as some stuff Clinton did." You hated Clinton. You thought what he did was bad. Now why do you say that W gets to do all that too? Maybe I don't get the fine nuances of the mindset. Is it a revenge thing?
posted by fleacircus at 2:38 PM on October 13, 2005


Feds to Probe E-Mails in N.Y. Terror Alert
"Federal authorities on Thursday opened a criminal investigation into who wrote e-mails that warned private citizens of a possible terror threat to New York City subways days in advance of a city government decision to issue a public alert last week. News of the probe followed a report Thursday in the New York Daily News that a 'select crowd of business and arts executives' received e-mails tipping them off to a potential threat days before most New Yorkers heard about it from local officials." [NBC News | Oct. 13, 2005]
E-mails are at Snopes.com.
posted by ericb at 2:42 PM on October 13, 2005


Yeah dhoyt, after your edifying citation of "they" in "they also said Clinton blah blah" I can see why you'd get irked at anyone with a source or link or anything.

Right. It was an obscure piece of data and I should've sourced it. By 'they', I meant critics, journos & pundits.

I'm continually amazed at how the Bushophiles out there run to his defense with "well [terrorizing the American people to raise political support] is at least as bad as some stuff Clinton did." You hated Clinton.

Sorry? I voted for Clinton twice. Nor am I a Bushophile. What I'm saying is lots of pundits say lots of things about what motivates the president during a turbulent tenure. I don't believe or disbelieve any of it quite so easily. Some of what Olbermann says is compelling and some is frivolous. The truth is in the middle. And re: Clinton, I was appending a comment to what CynicalKnight had said. Time to chill?
posted by dhoyt at 2:49 PM on October 13, 2005


Re the chart: the alerts do not appear to correlate particularly well with downtrends. In fact a number of them seem to happen at peaks, meaning the trend is heading up and an alert happens at the point it starts going down again.

If this is an actual strategy, it's not working - despite all those alerts Mr Bush's numbers have been declining steadily since 911. There are so many alerts as to be essentially useless for the purpose of distracting anyone. There's not enough time between them to distinguish one from another. It seems like there's always an alert and each one is just a reminder of the ongoing (bad) situation.

So if anything, my read is the opposite. With the exception of 911 and the start of the Iraq war these alerts and related activities are pushing the pres's approval rating down which would make a lot more common sense.

The 911 and Iraq war peaks have nothing at all to do with Mr Bush himself but with the office of the president. Anyone in office at those two times would have been rallied around and afforded the countrys support. So, factoring those out, Mr Bush's personal progress has been remarkably consistent. After an initial honeymoon period, his ratings have done nothing but decline no matter what's happening externally or what he may allegedly be doing to manipulate results.
posted by scheptech at 2:58 PM on October 13, 2005


Craig Crawford made a similar observation as Olbermann on the CBS News blog.

Crooks and Liars also has the video in QuickTime and Windows Media (both also available as BitTorrents).

JuliusBlog did this last year (discussed here) and thinks Olbermann bogarted the idea.

USA Today, May 10, 2005, Ridge reveals clashes on alerts:
The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:12 PM on October 13, 2005


It's not very scientifically rigorous, is it?

No, but someone with more time, interest, and skills than me could do an event history model of terror announcements to see if there's anything to it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:59 PM on October 13, 2005


"If this is an actual strategy, it's not working"

How would that differ from business as usual? You think Bushco would stop doing something - just because it isn't working?

The broader question is - would they falsely release terror alerts in an attempt to manipulate public opinion?
The broader answer is - Duh.


/and I think Clinton would have too. In retrospect - probably successfully.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:17 PM on October 13, 2005


would they falsely release terror alerts in an attempt to manipulate public opinion?

Also -- would they stage manage a supposed "give and take...a back and forth" between President Bush with soldiers on the ground in Iraq in an attempt to manipulate public opinion?

Of course they would -- only to have the President's spokesman, Scott McClellan deny it was scripted during a visibly contentious press gaggle. The video of a practice run was broadcast on evening newscasts tonight.
posted by ericb at 5:46 PM on October 13, 2005




Behind the Scenes of Operation Photo-Op
posted by ericb at 5:57 PM on October 13, 2005


It seems to me, particularly looking at the chart, that the strategy is not meant to gain approval points, merely to keep support from plummeting. There's a famous Goering quote I always come back to that details how this works. You have to hammer away constantly to keep the public afraid, otherwise they'll figure out what's up.

Take a look at today's McClellan tapes on crooksandliars. For example, this one, and you'll see what I mean. He's still claiming quite adamently that Iraq was about terrorism, and attacking people for being "opposed to the war" who disagree.

It doesn't matter if it's blatantly false. It doesn't matter if the media calls you on it. The fact that you made people afraid is all that matters. Do it steadily, and surely, and you can do whatever you want.

That quote (it models the McClellan tape EXACTLY):

"Naturally, the common people don't want war: not in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

posted by dsword at 6:12 PM on October 13, 2005


ericb, that should be a front-page post. Insanity.
posted by odinsdream at 6:20 PM on October 13, 2005


"It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution...

Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as a 'carefully scripted publicity stunt.' Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said.

'If he wants the real opinions of the troops, he can't do it in a nationally televised teleconference,' Rieckhoff said. 'He needs to be talking to the boots on the ground and that's not a bunch of captains.'" [Associated Press | October 13, 2005]
posted by ericb at 7:21 PM on October 13, 2005


The give-and-take at that photo-op was scripted so as not to repeat the time Rumsfeld got blind sided by the soldier who asked him about why they were having to patrol in unarmored humvees, I suspect.

Terror alerts, scripted teleconferences that try to tie in 9/11 with the debacle in Iraq--all these things may pale if Patrick Fitzgerald drags the whole White House Iraq Group into the spotlight. The buzz seems to be pointing at Cheney, for one. Remember this whole Plamegate is about an attempt at discrediting someone who refuted a story about alleged Iraqi attempts to procure Nigerien yellowcake in order to make an atom bomb. You all remember the whole we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud WMD rationale for invading Iraq. It might be revisited in detail in court with the war going down the tubes, both in the same real time.

I'm just wondering whether or when the administration is going to try to pull the plug on Fitzgerald ala Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre in Watergate and, if so, whether they can get away with it. We shall see.

The President had a eye blink rate approaching hummingbird wing beats when he got questioned on the Today show. It seems like the whole administration has gotten the deer in the headlights stare. The press is pulling back the curtain all over the place all of a sudden, which suggests that their corporate owners are beginning to look at the administration as being not much better than dead meat drifting.
posted by y2karl at 7:25 PM on October 13, 2005


"ericb, that should be a front-page post. Insanity.
posted by odinsdream at 6:20 PM PST on October 13 [!]" - It may have been widely broadcast. I was talking to my mother tonight, and she doesn't partake much of the internets - so I think she heard of this on national TV.
posted by troutfishing at 8:34 PM on October 13, 2005


y2karl - I'd advise keeping a close eye on the Miers nomination.
posted by troutfishing at 8:36 PM on October 13, 2005


I'd advise keeping a close eye on the Miers nomination.

Interesting --
"Article VI of the Constitution states that 'No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.' As the New York Sun pointed out recently, it is the single most absolutist and emphatic sentence in the entire Constitution. For those who would say that just because President Bush considered Miers’ religion in nominating her, that doesn’t necessarily mean he was imposing any kind of 'religious test,' I would implore you to think of it this way: if part of the reason the President nominated Miers was her religion, then that necessitates the fact that part of the reason other prospects were not nominated was because they did not have the same 'quality' of religion that Harriet Miers did. Thus, they were subjected to a religious test by the President in considering them for an appointment to the Supreme Court. This is grossly unconstitutional, and if it is allowed to stand, it will be a tacit admission that the 'Religious Test' clause has become outdated and inoperable, and we will be one major step closer to theocracy." [source]
posted by ericb at 9:08 PM on October 13, 2005


Good try, but no cigar:
"Religious test" as used in Article VI refers to a specific institution from seventeenth-century England: the Test Acts, which were designed to keep Catholics out of office by requiring all officeholders to take communion according to the rites of the Church of England, and to swear that they did not believe in transubstantiation.

Certainly the principle of "no religious test" suggests the extreme impropriety of using denominational membership as a screening mechanism or a talking point, but doing so isn't imposing a "religious test" in the Constitutional sense of that term.
Sounds like B.S. to me, but he's a lawyer.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:49 PM on October 13, 2005


This kind of distraction has been popular since Reagan's invented the "war as PR stunt" in Grenada" (Bush I in Panama, Clinton in the Balkans and Sudan). Nowadays its just more convenient to make it all about terror. The nifty terror alert color scheme thing doesn't seem to be working well enough, so they now use actual staged terror alerts like that in the NYC subway the other day.

Thank god I live outside of the US and don't have to deal with this fear-mongering 24 hours a day, but from Europe it is painfully obvious that every time Bush hits a rough patch there is a (convenient) report of an "inevitable" terror attack somewhere in the US. It's a testament to how surreal life in the US has become that more Americans are unable to see how blatant this is.
posted by sic at 1:14 AM on October 14, 2005


Regardless of whether Bush selected Miers primarily for her religion, that's not what religious test means: see Torcaso v. Watkins, the last time such a test was litigated before the US Supreme Court. Bush has executive privilege to choose appointees on almost any basis he chooses. The Constitution, however, says that they cannot be required to swear to their beliefs in e.g. their oath of office. (Note that the Presidential oath of office may be taken using the words affirm instead of swear and without a Bible, but it has not been done that way for over a century.) The "test" of a religious test would be if the President appointed a non-Christian and they had to swear to Christian beliefs before taking office (which was the case with the British tests).

As it is, either the President or the Senate may reject a candidate for any number of reasons outside of their religion. If they have a Jew nominee and they want to reject him, they don't have to make it about his being Jewish; they can find that he doesn't wear clean underwear or once wrote a letter to the editor about unmowed lawns. These kinds of decisions are murky and difficult to litigate (see almost all of employment law, which depends on patterns of behavior rather than individual situations).
posted by dhartung at 1:15 AM on October 14, 2005


IOKIYAR

Or, alternatively, attacking terrorists isn't in vogue if you dally with interns, but falsifying terror warnings is cool if you publicly proclaim that you love The Jesus.
posted by Freen at 1:31 PM on October 14, 2005


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