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Author Topic: Okay, speaking of suspicious timing....
TomDavidson
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Not to get too black helicopter on y'all, but doesn't the recent lockdown of New York -- especially in light of the quote below, from the AP -- make you wonder?

quote:

The government triggered the concerns Sunday when it announced that terrorists had recently observed the stock exchange and The Citigroup Center in Manhattan, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank buildings in Washington, and Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU)'s headquarters in Newark.

Since then, officials have acknowledged that the information came largely from a Pakistani computer engineer captured last month and that most of the information was amassed in 2000 and 2001. No timetable for potential attacks has ever been specified.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki rang the opening bell at the stock exchange Monday to show solidarity with workers and visited the Citigroup building with first lady Laura Bush and her twin daughters in the afternoon.


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musket
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Somehow I doubt that the First Lady and the Vogue Twins would be anywhere near the Citigroup building were there any real possibility of an attack by al Qaeda occuring there anytime soon.

This is all Bush has left to run on. Who can say, despite the suspicious timing of this and other boy-who-cried-wolf previous alerts-- let us not forget the one about a possible threat to malls in LA-- that there is no cause for legitimate concern?

Nobody, because you can't prove a negative.

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DonaldD
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quote:
... information was amassed in 2000 and 2001. No timetable for potential attacks has ever been specified.
So... 3-year old info and no timetable specified. What's the statute of limitations on such intelligence - 3 1/4 years, perhaps? Wouldn't that be a coincidence... Or maybe, New York will be put on "yellow alert" (or was that teal? puce? lavender?) in perpetuity...
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Sancselfieme
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A slightly more detailed article

quote:

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. officials say the detailed surveillance photos and documents that prompted higher terror warnings dated from as far back as 2000 and 2001 - some of it well before the Sept. 11 attacks - and it's unclear whether the individuals who amassed the information are still in the country or plotting.

Nevertheless, top Bush administration officials said Tuesday that some of the surveillance was apparently updated as recently as January of this year. And they denied any allegations that the public release of the information now, and the raising of the terror alert, were politically motivated. They said the information was released now because it was just uncovered in Pakistan.

The surveillance actions taken by the plotters were "originally done between 2000 and 2001, but were updated - some were updated - as recently as January of this year," Fran Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser, said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show.


So at the very least, they've been sitting on this info. since January, and probably all the way back to 2000-2001. This is outrageous. Bush and his ministry of fear are only allowed to get away with stunts like this because their party is the current majority in Congress. [Mad]

There is no excuse for releasing this NOW, especially since there is still no time table for any possible attack and that they have had this at the very latest since January. I hope this backfires againt Bush along with what I'm sure will be a fear-driven convention that invokes 9-11 every 5 seconds.

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FIJC
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quote:
"So... 3-year old info and no timetable specified. What's the statute of limitations on such intelligence - 3 1/4 years, perhaps? Wouldn't that be a coincidence... Or maybe, New York will be put on "yellow alert" (or was that teal? puce? lavender?) in perpetuity..."
My impression was that this was old information that had been recently updated and given further credence with the capture of Khan and the materials found in his possession. The LA Times says:

quote:
"Some of the surveillance files that triggered the nation's latest terrorism alert were reviewed and updated by Al Qaeda just months ago and dovetail with other, fresh intelligence that indicates the terrorism network remains intent on launching a major U.S. attack during the presidential election campaign, U.S. authorities said Monday."
So, I kind of think that all of this speculation on political timing is unjustifiable. It seems to me that this was simply old information that was given further credibility with the documents, pictures, and maps that were found on Khan after his capture. Because of this, the Bush Administration obviously decided that this information was updated and credible enough to put the areas of interest on a higher alert--this makes sense to me. It is entirely plausible that US intelligence receives threats such as this all the time, but that incidents such as the capture of Khan and the documents found in his possession, give enough credibility to the threats to make alerting the public appropriate and necessary. So I think that all of the righteous indignation over not hearing this information before is not prudent or just.

I really do not think that anything will actually come of this; the terrorists are probably just testing our capabilities. Either way, it is better to keep the public informed of these threats than not. It is the job of the Homeland Security Department to keep the channels of communication open to the public concerning credible threats against our security. This is incident is simply an example of that. I am actually surprised that more people here are not more satisfied with the fact that the government is being quite open and accessible to the public on matters such as this.

[ August 03, 2004, 11:32 AM: Message edited by: FIJC ]

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Van Aaron
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The timing here is outrageous!

Obviously they should have waited for an attack on one of these sites to occur, so they could then admit that they had prior intelligence of a possible attack but didn't tell anyone. That would help Kerry get elected, which should be the Administration's primary concern.

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javelin
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This would be much more disturbing if we had any reason to believe that the reports on the source of this information were correct and complete. How often does the government reveal their intelligence sources to the media BEFORE AN EVENT HAPPENS? I've read the article, and I'm hardly impressed. Sounds like a smear tactic to me.
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msquared
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Just how did this help him politcally? What timing?

If he had done this last Thursday just before Kerry's speach you might have a point.

Just when and how detailed is the information supposed to be before they release it? And if something happens, and a commission looks back and is able to connect the dots in hindsite, sort of like the 9/11 commission, will people still call for their heads?

Again a no win situation. The admin can not prove that they stoped an attack, therefore it was just fear mongering on their part and politically motivated to help them.

msquared

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TomDavidson
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"The admin can not prove that they stopped an attack...."

And so, as a consequence, are we supposed to give them the benefit of the doubt in every case? Because we can't prove they DIDN'T?

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javelin
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By the way - on my last post - I hope that was a good example of exactly what started this whole thing - making assumptions on someone's motivations that are heavily influenced by our opinion of that person. I'm not sure who I believe in this case, but I'm extremely skeptical of the source, etc., and I'm hoping that my post helped illustrate both sides of the hysteria.
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Koner
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Damned if you do, damned if you don't comes to mind when I read this thread.
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TomDavidson
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Javelin, is it your contention that the government was lying when it issued press conferences detailing the source of its information? Or in the interviews in which its employees elaborated on that information?

Or are you saying that the Associated Press is making it all up?

[ August 03, 2004, 01:08 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Wayward Son
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Javelin's right--it all comes down to whether you trust Bush and his Administration or not.

If you don't, it looks pretty damning. If you do, it looks pretty trivial. And if you don't trust any politician, it looks like business as usual.

Personally, I've lost my trust in Bush (not that I ever trusted him that much), so this is just another pebble on the "don't trust" side of the scale.

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Richard Dey
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VanAaron: [Smile]
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velcro
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msquared, you make a great straight man.

quote:
If he had done this last Thursday just before Kerry's speach you might have a point.
Well actually, this last Thursday, Pakistan announced the capture of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, "said to be a top al Qaeda operative and one of the world's most wanted men." They had captured him over the weekend, but did not announce it until the day of Kerry's speech.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=578&e=5&u=/nm/20040729/ts_nm/security_qaeda_pakistan_dc

And to give more support to the black helicopter crowd,

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040719&s=aaj071904

This is an article from The New Republic 7/19 that details the pressure the Bush administration put on Pakistan to capture High Value Targets
quote:
according to this ISI (Pakistani intelligence) official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
I'm not sure I believe it, but it does smell fishy.

Now back to the original topic:
There is no doubt in my mind that the administration should immediately make public the knowledge that new information was found about possible terrorist attacks, which is just what they did.

However, the need for urgency, specifically updating the alert level, is questionable.

If they (hypothetically) had this information two years ago, would it have merited a constant code orange alert for the last two years? If not, why do it now with no hint that the attack is imminent? This is a long term threat, and going orange is a short term solution.

To me, it is like finding out there is a major earthquake fault under Chicago. You can call for a full evacuation, or you can notify people that living there is more risky than they had thought so they can take the proper precautions. To me there is no need for urgency.

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Ivan
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It would be interesting to make parallel timelines showing press conferences on vague terrorist threats from Ridge and major events in the Democratic nomintaion process and Kerry's campaign.

If we see a pattern, we do, if we don't, then we don't. AFAIK, this is the second time one such press conference has closely followed a major event in Kerry's campaign (the first being right after Edwards was announced as VP candidate).

Two isn't a pattern, IMO, but any more than this would be pushing it...

-Ivan

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javelin
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Tom - I'm saying that "Government Officials" does not equal those in charge and/or those in the know. If these articles named some sources, I'd be less skeptical. The ONLY sources actually named are those who deny that this is a political stunt. There was no press conference that was held to detail all the evidence used to determine that there was a threat, nor does the government, in my opinion, have any responsibility to release information that it may still find useful to future prevention. I had better be able to see the full details when they are no longer useful to the investigation, but before? I don't think so.
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javelin
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Ivan - as my MAIN point is - we see patterns where we want to see patterns. I'd say we need to step back and be a little more careful jumping on these things. It isn't healthy to allow ourselves to fall into the pattern of finding patterns that match our preconceptions [Smile]
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WarrsawPact
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If "intelligence" had showed there was gonig to be a terrorist attack in Boston on the nights of the Democratic National Convention, and Bush actually did something to stop it, THEN I might be suspicious.

But New York? I'm going to need some convincing.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
So at the very least, they've been sitting on this info. since January, and probably all the way back to 2000-2001. This is outrageous.
No, that's exactly what they should do. If they knew the timetable, then the trick is to pretend you don't know until right before the supposed strike, and then release it to the press. This allows you more chance to catch people acting on a plan they don't know that you know about, and allows them to waste resources for years on a plan that you're going to spring, rather than altering the plan back in 2001, and maybe catching your source.

The black helicopters are on our side, here, Sanc. and Tom. Bush is scheming, yes, but this is scheming against the terrorist threat, not against Kerry.

Talk about ministry of fear! Every time Bush does anything to protect the country you guys scream that it's some sort of fascist plot against the country.

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TomDavidson
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"Every time Bush does anything to protect the country you guys scream that it's some sort of fascist plot against the country."

Well, part of that has to do with the fact that the bit of evidence which would suggest it's NOT a fascist plot against the country -- the element that shows that there's reason to suspect an imminent attack -- has NEVER been forthcoming in ANY of the situations in which this has happened, even after the fact.

And given that Bush sent his wife and daughters on a shopping trip to New York to demonstrate that New Yorkers had nothing to fear, I can't help thinking that there's little evidence that he was REALLY worried about a terrorist attack there.

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javelin
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Oh, this might be interesting. And yes, when Clinton did these things, I thought that it might be a little "too" convenient:
Media plays the "Wag the Dog" card unevenly

[Edited to add the "too" part, for clarity]

[ August 03, 2004, 03:53 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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javelin
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quote:
And given that Bush sent his wife and daughters on a shopping trip to New York to demonstrate that New Yorkers had nothing to fear, I can't help thinking that there's little evidence that he was REALLY worried about a terrorist attack there.
Or maybe, just maybe, he thinks that the problem has been handled? That the government did the right thing? That he should reassure the nation? Is that so inconsistent with what the man has done before?

Forgive me for continuing to be the devil's advocate here, but these postings have been so one-sided that I can hardly help myself.

[ August 03, 2004, 03:54 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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TomDavidson
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I think the major difference -- besides the fact that the Clinton "wag the dog" bit possibly prepared the press corps to consider the possibility, in retrospect -- is that Clinton didn't exactly create a whole department which, at times, seems to issue press releases at politically convenient times and doesn't appear to serve any other function.

If the Department of Homeland Security ever actually does something worthwhile, I suspect that people will come to trust it again.

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Sancselfieme
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If the Bush admin. was privvy to the basic facts behind these warnings all the way back in January, then they cannot reconcile their decision to only release them now --even if the warnings back in January were not specific-- while at the same time before and during the convention scaring the public with vague threats about the coming election which was very far away, and that they didn't even raise the terror level for, even though according to them the "attacks" could have come at any time.

How about a little consistency? Is that too much to expect?

[ August 03, 2004, 03:58 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Daruma28
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How about this point made by Michelle Malkin...

quote:
The information obtained might be old, however it is not as if Al Qaeda hadn’t spent years surveying and planning other terrorists attacks. It is rumored that Al Qaeda planned the attacks on embassies in Kenya and Tanzania for over five years. Photographs and videos have since been found with pictures of the U.S. embassy in Kenya that date back to 1992, six full years before the bombing.

Recent reports also indicate that the attack on the USS Cole took three years to plan and implement.

Could you guys even give A LITTLE benefit of the doubt to our war time President? You see conspiracy in EVERYTHING connected to this administration.

You guys really are looking no better than the right wing loons that claimed the Clintons had people like Vince Foster "taken out" for political convenience........

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TomDavidson
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"Could you guys even give A LITTLE benefit of the doubt to our war time President?"

I already have. How much benefit of the doubt are we required to give him before he has to present actual evidence of something?

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Everard
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Why should we give him the benefit of the doubt? He invaded Iraq, which has hurt us in the war on terror, he told us Iraq was an imminent threat, which turned out to be a smokescreen. The department of homeland security has YET to find any solid evidence for any of their hightened security alerts. Bush has shown himself fully capable of using fear as a motivator (cue the SotU address which was a textbook definition of paranoia), and his repeated use of 9/11 as an excuse to do politically unpopular things. His administration has used their "patriotism" to shout down people who think his policies are bad for the country. Etc. etc.

I gave bush the benefit of the doubt until the first thing he did as president was to implement a gag order. After that, he's got to work for me to trust him not to be a god-awful president.

So far, he hasn't convinced me he's anything other then a disaster for the long term health of our country.

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Daruma28
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I'm not going to get back into all of the old rehash debates you just brought up here - it woulb pointless already...

What would you have them do when they DO recieve intelligence they deem as a credible threat? Realistically? What should they do?

Do you really believe that this entire Terrorist threat is "manufactured" for political gain?

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TomDavidson
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"Do you really believe that this entire Terrorist threat is 'manufactured' for political gain?"

I believe about half of it is, yes. And I believe that more than half of our information about it is wrong -- either deliberately or accidentally. So that leaves a vanishingly small percentage of accurate and appropriate responses.

Perhaps now you understand why I don't like Bush. [Smile] I'm sure you'd dislike him, too, if you felt the same way. *grin*

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Everard
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Get rid of the homeland security warning system, for starters. It IS a fear mongering institution, because it doesn't actually help us in any way avoid terror attacks.

Rather, I'd like to see undercover policemen, counter-terror groups, etc. be informed of exactly what the intelligence is, and have them try to counter it. I'd like to see EMS units alerted to have people on standby. And I'd like there to be a public warning only in the event of specific intelligence as to when and where, and I'd like that warning to specify what the situation is so that people can make their own decisions about what needs to be done.

The big thing is to stop Ridge from saying "New York has been moved to mauve." Because, frankly, that hurts the country far more then it hinders terrorists. Now, if he wants to have color-coded schemes to alert people actually involved in counter-terror and disaster-relief, fine.

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Wayward Son
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I don't think anyone believes that the Terrorist threat is "manufactured." The question is whether it is being "manipulated" for political gain, which would be very, very easy to do because of the level of secrecy.

It would be much easier for Bush to "wag the dog" because of this secrecy than for Clinton to have done it with Bosnia.

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DonaldD
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Nope - I really can't speak to the motivation of the current admin, but to turn your question around, what does releasing this non-specific, fear-inducing "warning" really do?

Will the public suddenly assist in the capture of the bad guys, what with all their new-found terrorist intelligence? Seems like there's not enough info to very helpful, though...

With all this detailed information, will people now be able to make informed decisions that, no, they really don't want to work at Citigroup in Manhattan anymore, and find other, safer jobs? Again, seems like kinda flimsy evidence to make such a life-changing decision...

Will it deter the terrorists from attacking these buldings/sites? Maybe in the short term (if the bad guys were even planning on doing so in the short term) but since there have been so many other such warnings, and since the "plans" seem to have no effective date...

Here's one that actually makes sense: If a successful attack does happen, at least the admin will be able to point here and say "see, we told you so!"

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Dan Allen
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quote:
Originally posted by Sancselfieme:
If the Bush admin. was privvy to the basic facts behind these warnings all the way back in January

If you actually read the articles, the January timestamp refers to when the data files were updated by the terrorists. The Bush administration did not aquire the data files until a week or so ago.
The other thing being missed (ignored?) here is that the detail in the data files isn't the only intel being acted on. They combined this information on the the skill and methods Al-Queda uses for target selection with other intel on movements and activity to justify the bump to orange.

Also, the incease to orange is only for the specific areas thought to be at highest risk - the rest of the country remains at yellow.

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Daruma28
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quote:
Here's one that actually makes sense: If a successful attack does happen, at least the admin will be able to point here and say "see, we told you so!"
And they were criticized immensely for not releasing any kinds of warnings just priot to 9/11?

So again - what would you have them do? Say Bush recieves a report on his desk that a certain city is threatened....what should he do to satisfy you that he's doing his best?

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FIJC
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quote:
"If you actually read the articles, the January timestamp refers to when the data files were updated by the terrorists. The Bush administration did not aquire the data files until a week or so ago.
The other thing being missed (ignored?) here is that the detail in the data files isn't the only intel being acted on. They combined this information on the the skill and methods Al-Queda uses for target selection with other intel on movements and activity to justify the bump to orange.

Also, the incease to orange is only for the specific areas thought to be at highest risk - the rest of the country remains at yellow."

Finally, another dose of sanity on this thread. [Smile]

quote:
"If the Department of Homeland Security ever actually does something worthwhile, I suspect that people will come to trust it again."
What do you mean by "again"? You post as if the vast majority of people working for Homeland Security are covert RNC operatives. As with any other government agency, these people are career bureaucrats, not partisan gun-slingers. So what is it about Homeland Security that you don't like? It seems to me that they are fulfilling their mission.

[ August 03, 2004, 05:09 PM: Message edited by: FIJC ]

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DonaldD
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quote:
And they were criticized immensely for not releasing any kinds of warnings just priot to 9/11?
Err, I don't think that the admin was seriously criticized for not informing the public prior to 9/11...

The security agencies were vilified for being caught with their pants down (their kindergarten teachers might have said that they weren't good at sharing), and more recently the administration was castigated for ignoring intel on terrorism and for focusing on Iraq to the detriment of national security... but I think you're shadow-boxing with that claim.

What should be done in the future? I like Everard's ideas: I see absolutely no point in providing non-substantive warnings to the general public, and providing no effective means for them act on the information.

Reform the security agencies (major problems continue to crop up even recently) and take a look at the 9/11 commission documents - can't hurt.

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velcro
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Daruma,

The Malkin piece does not prove anything. If al-Qaeda plan for up to 6 years, they may not do anything to these targets for 3 more years. Should we stay at code orange for 3 years? Or 4 just to be sure? Please answer this.


The fact is, the risk of this attack has not changed in the last year or two. Our knowledge of the risk changed. We have lived with it for years. Should we change our behavior based on that knowledge? Yes. Given that we have lived with this risk for years, is it urgent that we go to code orange, spend millions on extra police, prevent trucks from using tunnels into NYC, right now? I don't think so.

So any comment on finding the Al-Qaeda guy Sunday and announcing it Thursday before the Kerry speech? As predicted?

[changed "they" to "al-Qaeda"

[ August 03, 2004, 05:27 PM: Message edited by: velcro ]

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TomDavidson
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"The other thing being missed (ignored?) here is that the detail in the data files isn't the only intel being acted on."

How do you know this? The Administration went to war with a casus belli based almost entirely on the testimony of two people, although they swore they had ample evidence. What would make you think there's more intel out there?

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Pete at Home
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OK -- how many operatives does the president have to expose and sacrifice in order to win Tom's personal trust?
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