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UQ Wire: Fabricating Terror

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Unanswered Questions : Thinking for ourselves.

Fabricating Terror

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Wednesday 04 August 2004


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.

Do you doubt it? Recall, if you will, the report in July by John Judis, Spencer Ackerman, and Massoud Ansari of the New Republic titled 'July Surprise'. The report read, "This spring, the administration significantly increased its pressure on Pakistan to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri, or the Taliban's Mullah Mohammed Omar, all of whom are believed to be hiding in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan. A succession of high-level American officials--from outgoing CIA Director George Tenet to Secretary of State Colin Powell to Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca to State Department counterterrorism chief Cofer Black to a top CIA South Asia official--have visited Pakistan in recent months to urge General Pervez Musharraf's government to do more in the war on terrorism."

The kicker appears in the next paragraph: "A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed TNR that the Pakistanis 'have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs (High Value Targets) before [the] election is [an] absolute must.' What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: 'The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington.'... But according to this ISI 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."

On the Thursday of the Democratic convention in Boston, the day John Kerry was to accept the nomination and deliver the central speech of the week, Pakistan announced the capture of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian Al Qaeda operative wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Pakistan, it seems, got the message from Tenet, Powell, Rocca, Black and the Bush administration itself.

They delivered the terrorist exactly on cue.

In that instance, clearly Bush's people wanted to use terrorism to deflect attention from the Democratic convention. What were they trying to distract us from with this Sunday warning nonsense?

It is possible they are looking to dissuade some of the 500,000 protesters, who are planning to surround the Republican convention in New York at the end of the month, from making the trip. Yet that seems unlikely; the convention is three weeks away, so it is a bit early to start scaring people. More likely, they are looking to distract from the poll-numbers bump Kerry and Edwards are enjoying in the aftermath of a highly successful convention. Could it be as simple and craven as that? Absolutely yes, it could.

Perhaps more interesting is the manner in which this fraud was exposed. Ridge made the announcement on Sunday, and within 24 hours, a whole crowd of 'officials' roared out to expose the dated nature of the information. In other words, the long-abused intelligence community saw the Bush administration jerking the terror alert system around, and threw a few torpedoes into their side.

That Bush and his people are using terror to manipulate the American people isn't the worst part of this, hard as that may be to believe. The worst part of this is that September 11 happened, that warnings of a potential attack are necessary to the public safety when merited, and that every time Bush uses these warnings to assist his election campaign, the people tune out the warnings even further. This may well get a lot of people killed someday. When you cry wolf long enough, people will ignore you when the wolf actually comes to the door.

What's next?

I can see it now. A flash will come across the wires some morning soon: The Homeland Security Department has released an Orange Alert notification, based on credible and up-to-date evidence, that a bug in millions of computer systems could cause major disruptions at the turn of the millennium.

They are thinking of calling it 'The Millennium Terrabug.' Keep your eyes peeled.


William Rivers Pitt is the senior editor and lead writer for truthout. He is a New York Times and international bestselling author of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence.'


STANDARD DISCLAIMER FROM UQ.ORG: does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in the above article. We present this in the interests of research -for the relevant information we believe it contains. We hope that the reader finds in it inspiration to work with us further, in helping to build bridges between our various investigative communities, towards a greater, common understanding of the unanswered questions which now lie before us.

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