Just As I Thought

Someone’s paying attention

I’ve been saying it for years now — that the Bush administration uses terror alerts and the like to distract us when he’s under criticism. I’ve been far too lazy to compile a list (although you could probably go back through this blog and find as-it-happens comments about it)… finally, someone in the “main stream media” has decided to compile one. Well, Ken Olbermann of MSNBC, at least.

Last Thursday on Countdown, I referred to the latest terror threat – the reported bomb plot against the New York City subway system – in terms of its timing. President Bush’s speech about the war on terror had come earlier the same day, as had the breaking news of the possible indictment of Karl Rove in the CIA leak investigation.

I suggested that 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. We did so this evening on the television program, with ten of these examples. The other three are listed at the end of the main list, out of chronological order. The contraction was made purely for the sake of television timing considerations, and permitted us to get the live reaction of the former Undersecretary of Homeland Security, Asa Hutchinson.

We bring you these coincidences, reminding you, and ourselves here, that perhaps the simplest piece of wisdom in the world is called “the logical fallacy.” Just because Event “A” occurs, and then Event “B” occurs, that does not automatically mean that Event “A” caused Event “B.”

And here are some examples from his list:

May 18th, 2002. The first details of the President’s Daily Briefing of August 6th, 2001, are revealed, including its title – “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.” The same day another memo is discovered – revealing the FBI knew of men with links to Al Qaeda training at an Arizona flight school. The memo was never acted upon. Questions about 9/11 Intelligence failures are swirling.

May 20th, 2002. Two days later, FBI Director Mueller declares another terrorist attack “inevitable.” The next day, the Department of Homeland Security issues warnings of attacks against railroads nationwide, and against New York City landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

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.

February 5th, 2003. Secretary of State Powell tells the United Nations Security Council of Iraq’s concealment of weapons, including 18 mobile biological weapons laboratories, justifying a U.N. or U.S. first strike. Many in the UN are doubtful. Months later, much of the information proves untrue.

February 7th, 2003. Two days later, as anti-war demonstrations continue to take place around the globe, Homeland Security Secretary Ridge cites “credible threats” by Al Qaeda, and raises the terror alert level to orange. Three days after that, Fire Administrator David Paulison – who would become the acting head of FEMA after the Hurricane Katrina disaster – advises Americans to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect themselves against radiological or biological attack.

There are ten more on his list. I’d have listed far more.

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