Wednesday 4 August 2004

Fabricating Terror

by William Rivers Pitt

Let me get this straight.

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge came barnstorming out on Sunday with a blizzard of warnings about looming terror attacks against targets in New York, New Jersey and Washington DC. Our nifty color-coded alert system was raised to Orange, or High. Headlines from coast to coast blared the bad news, and the stock market began Monday by giving itself a sound beating.

Late Monday night, however, had articles popping up on the Washington Post and the New York Times. This was the Post's midnight take: "Most of the al-Qaeda surveillance of five financial institutions that led to a new terrorism alert Sunday was conducted before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and authorities are not sure whether the casing of the buildings has continued, numerous intelligence and law enforcement officials said yesterday...'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.'"

The data was three years old.

Tom Ridge, in his Sunday remarks, said, "President Bush has told you, and I have reiterated the promise, that when we have specific credible information, that we will share it. Now this afternoon, we do have new and unusually specific information about where al-Qaeda would like to attack."

The data was three years old.

"The quality of this intelligence," said Ridge on Sunday, "based on multiple reporting streams in multiple locations, is rarely seen and it is alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information."

The data was three years old.

"As of now," said Ridge on Sunday, "this is what we know: reports indicate that al-Qaeda is targeting several specific buildings, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in the District of Columbia; Prudential Financial in Northern New Jersey; and Citigroup buildings and the New York Stock Exchange in New York."

The data was three years old.

"I certainly realize that this is sobering news," said Ridge on Sunday, "not just about the intent of our enemies, but of their specific plans and a glimpse into their methods."

The data was three years old.

"But we must understand," said Ridge on Sunday, "that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the President's leadership in the war against terror."

The data was three years old.

Furthermore, according to the Washington Post, "Several officials also said that much of the information compiled by terrorist operatives about the buildings in Washington, New York and Newark was obtained through the Internet or other 'open sources' available to the general public, including some floor plans." The data was three years old, gathered on the Internet, and delivered to the American people in tones of doom, as if the hammer were about to fall at any moment.

As reported on the Bloomberg newswire, Laura Bush and the daughters Barbara and Jenna Bush held a photo-op at the Citigroup Center in New York City on Monday, the first day of Ridge's new Orange alert. This was one of the target buildings, according to Ridge. George W. Bush sent his entire family to the very place that was supposedly about to be blown to smithereens?

I don't think so.

George W. Bush and his administration officials are using terrorism - the fear of it, the fight against it - to manipulate domestic American politics. They are, as they have every day for almost three years now, using September 11 against their own people. They are also getting stumblingly obvious about it. We are being lied to, clumsily, again.

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