I have to echo Mr Byrd.

When the Bushies were pushing for an all out offensive against Iraq, Senator Byrd, in the congressional debate, kept using the phrase ‘Why now?’ – to ask the administration why it was so critical that the US attack Iraq immediately.
The answer back from the administration was that Iraq posed an ‘immediate threat’ to the US with it’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. Neither the immediate threat, nor the WMDs were ever found, and in fact, if you ask anyone in the administration now why we went to war and overthrew a foreign power, they will say “To combat terrorism!” or “We had to remove a dangerous dictator from power” – they’ll be guaranteed to trot out the phrase “Do you think Iraq would be better off with Saddam still in power?”
I find myself harkening back to Senator Byrd’s comments nowadays. Over the last 24-36 hours, Tom Ridge has raised the security alert in the US. The reasoning is that Al Qaeda is purported to be ramping up the threats against US targets.
Why now?
I find it funny that this heightened alert happened mere days after the DNC, when Kerry is in the ‘bubble’ that follows any convention. This gets more interesting when it turns out that much of the information is not new. It is YEARS old. It has only come to light because of recent interrogations of captured individuals in Pakistan who (so we are told) mentioned things that are in these documents. Note that nothing has changed, it’s just that we just captured some folks, and they said the same things that are in these YEARS OLD documents.
Why now?
Quick! MY GOD! Someone rememberd something they wrote 2 years ago! We have to plaster the media with more unidentifiable, non-specific, absolutely WORTHLESS security alerts! Yeah baby!
Why now?
Because it’s good politics. Pure and simple. Raising the terror threat alert does nothing to help the US. It doesn’t help the military prepare for an attack (they theoretically already know about it). It doesn’t help the investigative or intelligence agencies any (they already know about it). It sure as SHIT doesn’t help the public (now we know about it, thanks. Now what?). The only reason this is done is politics.
Owait, that’s right. The police and civil agencies are supposed to do something too. Do you know they still don’t have the money, manpower, or guidance to do ANYTHING? And what exactly are they supposed to do anyway? “We might or might not have an attack on an undisclosed location, somewhere in the US, sometime this year.
Sometime this year.
Golly. And lets tell everyone about this the week after the DNC, when the campaign for the presidency is really getting rolling.
If I’m wrong? Great, I’m wrong. Are my words going to make one whit of difference one way or another? No. Because there is no defense against this kind of threat that is possible in this world, other than assuming everyone is a terrorist. Owait too late.

Dave Shevett

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A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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4 thoughts on “I have to echo Mr Byrd.

  1. Be careful about echoing Senator Byrd, as he sometimes forgets what year it is. Now that Strom Thurmond is dead, Byrd is high up in the running for “most embarassing Senator.” (He gets stiff competition from Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), though.) If you look back through Byrd’s career, you aren’t going to find that he’s done much besides give really stilted speeches and shaking down the rest of the country to benefit W. Va.
    Most of the terrorism alerts are useless, but there is a lot of bureacratic ass covering that goes on in regard to them. No one wants to be the guy who can blamed for not sounding the alarm if something *does* happen and, however, vaguely, it can be said that some bit of info they had provided “warning.”
    Let’s imagine if they sat on this (apparently, the source of this was a computer captured in Pakistan with a guy who had a big bounty on him..although, IMHO, he’s not that big of a name. I’ll be impressed when they haul in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.) and something did happen. It’d be inevitable that the fact they had a “warning” would leak. And then the next Michael Moore movie would have a twenty minute segment implying (but not directly stating) that George Bush had known the Democratic convention would be attacked and did nothing.
    It looks to me like they opted for the ass-covering, even though it’s almost certain to be of no use to anyone.
    They also issued alerts a few times this last year that were not during the Democratic National Convention like this and this.
    Of course, I wonder if al-Qaida is simply gaming our system and putting out phony attack threats to manipulate the election. (I really don’t know who they’d prefer. Kerry is not likely to change US policy regarding al-Qaida, so what’s the point of trying to elect him? They really don’t like Bush, so what’s the point of trying to keep him in office? But they might have some real wierd ideas about our politics: Hitler honestly believed that FDR’s death would mean that the US would cease fighting against Nazi Germany, for example, and the leaders of the USSR, according to former Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin (in his memoirs), really were shocked that Nixon almost got impeached. (When Dobrynin told them that Nixon was accused of violating the Constitution, Leonid Brezhnev’s response was “So what? We violate our Constitution all the time.”))
    Never attribute to malice what can be adequetely explained by stupidity and bureacratic ass-covering, and don’t forget that al-Qaida has an agenda as well.
    I think you are right: they should not issue these vague terror alerts. But they’ve been doing that continously since September 11. It’s all about dodging the blame next time. And that game gets played by everyone.
    They do have the money and manpower to do things, btw. They just use a lot of it to make Powerpoint briefings and plans that never quite get turned into actual action. And even if they did act, the biggest problem we have with regard to terrorism (the lack of human intelligence resources or capability) will take a long time to rectify: our whole system of intelligence collection has a long term bias towards signals and imagery, and the Carter administration had a CIA director who decided that human intelligence was no longer needed: if you want a fictional (and well-written) critique of this, you can easily find a copy of Bill Granger’s There Are No Spies. (The Reagan administration criticized this decision, but didn’t really do all that much to fix it. This is a long-running pattern in US history: criticize the previous administration’s intelligence gathering, get elected, then change very little substance.)
    One further note: you think that maybe the lack of post-convention bounce is due to the uninspiring, lackluster candidate the Democrats nominated? Or (Not the Republicans have exactly nominated a dynamo. “I promise to be less incompetent if reelected, and to only betray half of my campaign promises, instead of 2/3rds of them” isn’t exactly a powerful rallying cry, IMHO.) If Bush faced a really inpsiring opponent (say, if the Democratic ticket were reversed), his poll numbers would be in the 30s, even with the polarization we’ve seen over the last decade.
    That polarization might be a factor, too. Most voters have made up their minds already, and no amount of campaigning will change that. Barring a really stupid speech or horrific act (neither of which Kerry is likely to make), I can’t see the convention changing many minds. (Same goes for the Republican convention. Bush has already had his embarassments and weathered them. Can’t see many more coming up. Given the low expectations that he has, so long as he doesn’t drool during his speech, he’s gonna do fine.)

  2. One more thing: Kerry’s bounce was pretty damn small. But maybe that’s grist for conspiracy talk, since the administration is incompetent enough to not have noticed that. (And heck, we have the precedent of Richard Nixon engaging in all sorts of skullduggery during an election it was blatantly obvious he was going to win in a landslide.)

  3. The CIA had an opening for an assassin. After all of the background checks, interviews, and testing were done there were three finalists – two men and one woman. For the final test, the CIA agents took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun.
    “We must know that you will follow your instructions, no matter what the circumstances. Inside this room you will find your wife sitting in a chair. You have to kill her.” The first man said. “You cant be serious. I could never shoot my wife!”The agent replies, “Then you?re not the right man for this job.”
    The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for about five minutes. Then the agent came out with tears in his eyes. “I tried, but I cant kill my wife.” The agent replies, “You dont have what it takes. Take your wife and go home.”
    Finally, it was the womans turn. Only she was told to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room. Shots were heard, one shot after another. They heard screaming, crashing, banging on the walls. After a few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow and said, “You guys didnt tell me the gun was loaded with blanks. So I had to beat him to death with the chair.”

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