Thursday, October 13, 2005

Wagging the dog

Ever since back in May when Tom Ridge revealed that the color coded terror alerts were raised on several instances when he did not believe the intelligence justified it I've been waiting for someone in the media to attempt to answer the question of why the alerts might have been raised. Finally, somone has.

On MSNBC's The Countdown, Keith Olbermann, in a segment entitled "The Nexus of Politics and Terror" (click here for the video or here for the transcript,) examined ten instances where the alerts were raised within a day or so of something negative for the Bush administration being in the press. Take Olbermann's number two case for example

June 6th, 2002. Colleen Rowley, the FBI agent who tried to alert her superiors to the specialized flight training taken by Zacarias Moussaoui, whose information suggests the government missed a chance to break up the 9/11 plot, testifies before Congress. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Graham says Rowley’s testimony has inspired similar pre-9/11 whistle-blowers.

June 10th, 2002. Four days later, speaking from Russia, Attorney General John Ashcroft reveals that an American named Jose Padilla is under arrest, accused of plotting a radiation bomb attack in this country. Padilla had, by this time, already been detained for more than a month.

With this context provided, the raising of the alerts takes on a quite insidious appearance. And that is the appearance that the alerts were used as a device to scare and distract the public, to marshal support for the administration by the creation of fear. Anyone who has read Orwell and recalls how both the pigs in Animal Farm and the government officials in 1984 used pronouncements of pending danger to subjugate the citizenry will find this to be a cause of concern, to say the least.

I begin to sound like a broken record, but this is a matter that should be of foremost importance to the American public, and it is the duty of the press to ask the tough questions of this administration that need to be answered. From Olbermann's conclusion

To summarize, coincidences are coincidences.

We could probably construct a similar time line of terror events and warnings, and their relationship to - the opening of new Walmarts around the country.

Are these coincidences signs that the government’s approach has worked because none of the announced threats ever materialized? Are they signs that the government has not yet mastered how and when to inform the public?

Is there, in addition to the "fog of war" a simple, benign, "fog of intelligence”?

But, if merely a reasonable case can be made that any of these juxtapositions of events are more than just coincidences, it underscores the need for questions to be asked in this country - questions about what is prudence, and what is fear-mongering; questions about which is the threat of death by terror, and which is the terror of threat.

1 comment:

gawker said...

Dont forget the time they raised terror alerts around financial buildings in New York when they came to know of a plan to blow up those buildings which was 2 years old. This has to be the time that their poliy of terrify and rule was implemented the most blatantly. And that time too no one in the media took it up. Ridiculous. The media I guess, has just given up.