• Arrgh! yes. Yet the good news is: Thank you, New York Times. Maybe this will smack other news outlets into fully opening their eyes again.

    August 02, 2004
  • The Washington Post is carrying the story on its front page this morning, too:

    “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.”

    August 03, 2004
  • I’m sitting in my office in the World Financial Center, back here after three years. The misuse and politicization of security information does infuriate me; I cannot believe that the timing of this alert is coincidental. But on the other hand, it’s real. On the one hand, I think strangling small businesses in the Citicorp building won’t change a thing about security, but on the other hand, we know how long the 9/11 hijackings were in preparation.

    So yes, I’m angry that they’re obviously timing these announcements. But I’m also scared; I doubt the competence or sincerity of the administration, and I know the people on the ground who are responsible for security are not getting the funding or support they need to do their jobs.

    August 03, 2004
  • But on the other hand, it’s real.

    Real in what sense? That Queda operatives did indeed reconnoiter the financial targets, I guess you mean. The problem with intelligence is that context and interpretation count for so much. An analyst might say about the current findings that they were part of the buildup to the 9/11 attacks: historically interesting for researching methods, but not operational any longer.

    And that, to bring us back full circle, is what’s so fucking infuriating about this administration: you can’t tell if they’re crying wolf or not.

    August 03, 2004
  • *Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid (At Least Until November)*


    August 03, 2004
  • It’s also at the Newsday and CNN sites. So that’s good. What’s not good are the current responses to CNN’s “QuickVote” (a big FWIW item, but still):

    Do you think the government was justified in issuing the latest terror threat warning?

    Yes: 53%
    No: 47%

    August 03, 2004
  • This absolutely infuriates me. I am so tired of heavy-handed manipulation — the administration has so little respect for the public that they don’t even try to hide their machinations. It’s not a surprise, but it is still absolutely sickening. I would go on Kitten Down A Well Alert, but sometime not even that helps.

    August 03, 2004
  • Real in the sense that I’m sure al Qaeda is working its collective ass off to get an attack launched in New York City. Real in the (perhaps more frightening) sense that two- or four-year-old intelligence may be the best information we have about what they’re doing.

    August 03, 2004
  • The only thing more infuriating than the cynical manipulation of this administration is the extent to which the American public laps it up. Honestly!

    August 03, 2004
  • Absolutely, I concur.

    August 03, 2004
  • Yeah, I crack myself up. Glad it occasionally works on someone else.

    August 03, 2004
  • I laugh every time I read Kitten Down A Well Alert. Every. Time.

    I agree completely: see my reply to Mark, above.

    August 03, 2004
  • So this morning, the Times puts its tail between its legs on the front page, admitting that “a separate stream of intelligence” that “reached the White House only last week” prompted the alerts. There’s no detail on what that intelligence is, which is understandable, except when one considers the detail and tone of the original announcement. It turns out also that the “new information” consisted of a photograph of one building, not one of the five (was that building warned???) and the fact that modification dates on the files were recent. The Times at least points out that modification times tell you very little about how much the files were really changed; Word often changes modification times if you don’t do anything to the file.

    They also quoted Tom Ridge saying “We don’t do politics in the Department of Homeland Security,” with a straight face, not mentioning his original statement:

    We must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president’s leadership in the war against terror.

    The scary thing is that Ridge is probably exactly correct.

    August 04, 2004
  • Frustrating to the Nth degree.

    “Every democracy gets the leadership it deserves.” Or something like that.

    August 04, 2004
  • Yeah, I saw that (insert hypertension glyph here). In today’s Salon Sidney Blumenthal says:

    The widespread cynicism about the latest alerts, which may have no grounding, is a product of Bush’s intense politicization of national security, his long record of misleading statements about almost every aspect of the Iraq war — from weapons of mass destruction to the connection between Iraq and al-Qaida — and his well-chiseled image as a decisive leader worthy of Mount Rushmore, which is belied by the 9/11 commission report’s support of every charge in former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke’s account of frustration.

    From Betrayal of Trust.

    August 05, 2004
  • Public Opinion

    BusinessWeek Online is running a poll about the security alerts, and while it’s early yet, results so far:

    Justified by latest intelligence 35.6 %
    Unjustified, intelligence is too old 10.6 %
    otivated by politics 44.4 %
    Not enough to ensure safety 9.4 %

    The Wall Street Journal Online ran a poll (for subscribers only) yesterday, and of 3,765 votes, 48% believed the alert was politically motivated, while 52% believed they were justified.

    When you consider that the threat is undeniably real, and that both of these audiences are not exactly the Mother Jones demographic, I think that’s a pretty astonishing vote of “no confidence” in Bush’s honesty and ability to deal with the threat.

    August 05, 2004
  • Re: Public Opinion

    You’re right, those numbers are surprising. What astonishes me is that they don’t seem to translate into support for Kerry. Did you see the letters column in the Times today? The response to the Bruce Springsteen Op-Ed piece was mostly positive, but a couple of missives could have come from the editorial writers at the WSJ.

    August 06, 2004

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