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The Phony Fear


Lucky
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Republicans have for several months tried to ratchet up the fear level among the American people by suggesting strongly that a terrorist attack before or during our elections was virtually imminent. Now that we know that they were lying, perhaps the American people will take these very politicians to task for their cheap attempt to manipulate fear rather than discuss issues.

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both sides tried to frighten voters; the republicans with the idea of a mushroom cloud over an american city and kerry telling old florida voters that bush had a january surprise of cutting their social security checks 45% and telling students at the university of pennsylvania that if bush won there would be a military draft.

 

there was so much crap on both sides it would be hard to tell who would win the "fright" contest.

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SOme now think the threat period should be extended until january.

 

On Alert for Terror Activity Timed to Disrupt Election, Agencies Find Little Reason to Worry

By DAVID JOHNSTON NYT

 

Published: November 3, 2004

 

 

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 - Terrorism command centers were activated in dozens of states and cities throughout the country on Tuesday because of fears of an election-year attack. Security authorities said emergency personnel were on standby alert, but there were no reports of any incidents.

 

In the capital, officials at the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency were stationed at their emergency command posts, but even there officials reported little activity beyond routine reports from their field units, which indicated no sign of terror activity.

 

The relative tranquillity of Election Day contrasted with the high anxiety of the preceding months when counterterrorism officials had repeatedly warned of a potentially catastrophic attack by Al Qaeda inside the United States timed to disrupt the electoral process. In recent days, these officials said they had uncovered no evidence of such an operation, after thousands of interviews in the United States and a global effort to track down anti-American extremists.

 

In May, July and August, senior law enforcement and intelligence authorities made urgent public announcements about the terror threat warning that Al Qaeda was almost ready to strike. At the same time, they issued dozens of bulletins to state and local officials advising them to be increasingly vigilant.

 

Some officials said they suspected that an attack of some kind might still be coming. They said the period of concern should be extended from the election through the presidential inauguration in January.

 

But over all, it seemed apparent from interviews among counterterrorism officials on Tuesday that the mood of feverish concern had ebbed as the election appeared to have taken place without incident.

 

Some hinted that the government might soon downshift its terror warnings. "Following the election, we will assess the threat environment and the alert status to determine what security posture we will need to have in place based on intelligence assessments," said Brian Roehrkasse, the spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.

 

At the Justice Department, Mark Corallo, the spokesman, said: "We're still working overtime. The F.B.I. and all of our partners at the state and local level are pounding the pavement, pressing sources for information, staying on top of it. We're doing everything we can to detect and disrupt the terrorist threat. And if nothing happens, we're going to be out there tomorrow doing the same thing."

 

Officials said that absence of any tangible sign of an attack had led them to a fresh assessment of the possible significance of a recent videotape by Osama bin Laden, which was first broadcast Friday by the Arab-language satellite network Al Jazeera and transmitted by television outlets around the world.

 

On the videotape, Mr. bin Laden directly addressed Americans in an unusually formal statement in which he said: "Your security is not the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands."

 

It was possible, the officials theorized, that Mr. bin Laden, while he remained a worrisome threat, lacked the resources and personnel to direct an attack in the United States. Instead, they said, he may have decided to resort to a statement in an effort to disrupt the election.

 

Within counterterrorism circles in the government, officials are still debating why they have found so little evidence of an election-year attack, a concern that seemed credible enough to impose extraordinary security measures at the two national political conventions in Boston and New York and other government events, like the Group of 8 economic summit in Georgia this past summer.

 

Some counterterrorism officials said they doubted that there was ever a solid basis for believing that Al Qaeda would strike in the United States this year, although others disputed that assessment and said the intelligence about an attack was specific and persuasive.

 

Some officials suggested that intensive disruption and detection efforts might have caused Al Qaeda to postpone or cancel its plans, which could still be activated any time the terror network gauged that it had a good chance of successfully carrying them out.

 

The most significant threat discovered by the authorities this year, a Qaeda surveillance operation directed at five American financial institutions, has led the authorities to what they now say is a dead end. The detailed reconnaissance plans alarmed the authorities and caused them to elevate the alert level in New York, Newark and Washington.

 

The investigation led to a group of eight Qaeda suspects in Britain, including a man who officials said actually carried out the surveillance operation. But the investigation yielded no evidence that the group had been planning to attack the financial institutions or any other targets in the United States, as was initially suspected.

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