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Some perspective on terrorism warnings

So the Bush administration has started to issue warnings after being criticized for not issuing warnings before September 11. But guess what? People are now criticizing the latest warnings as an attempt by the Bush administration to cover its ass. Sure, I have no doubt that is partly true. However, it's also a part of thing called, "Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it." You wanted warnings, you got warnings. Now, what is it going to do? And what would it have done last August? Nobody has answers for that.

Here is what some (lazy) journalists are saying:

Tom Friedman: "What started as a story about how the Bush team handled unspecific warnings about possible terrorist attacks in the U.S. before 9/11 has now prompted the Bushies not only to defend themselves from charges of irresponsibility — which they are entitled to do — but to go on a Chicken Little warnings binge that another attack is imminent, inevitable and around the corner, but we can't tell you when, where or how."

Hey Tom. They wouldn't have been able to tell you when, where or how regarding September 11 based on the information they received. If they had issued such vague warnings, you'd be bitching then too.

Chris Matthews: "We have a real problem with [Phoenix memo not reaching Bush, Mohammad Atta acquiring student visa].. these are real screw-ups, real foul-ups.. Are they being covered up by these generalized warnings?"

No Chris, they are merely giving you what you and your colleagues in the press were screaming about 3 days ago, namely, that the Bush administration wasn't issuing warnings to the general public prior to September 11.

Paula Zahn (to Cliff May): "There is a lot of second-guessing going on, and there are people out there, even the president's supporters, who are saying that they think this latest series of warnings are nothing more than the administration collectively trying to cover its derriere. What about that?"

Paula, you're sexy, but you're not that smart. "Trying to cover its derriere"? That's the kind of remarks professional journalists make? Again, as I said about Chris, the administration is merely giving you what you asked for.

The politicians are no better. Back in October of 2001, following the September 11 attacks, the administration issued a series of warnings regarding possible new impending attacks. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said, "You wonder what these warnings achieve, other than to create more fear." Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington said, "It's driving me crazy as a mother, frankly. I think the people who need to know, who are responsible for our safety, should be getting the information. But to scare the public back into their houses is the wrong message right now, unless there really is a security risk."

Bottom line is, you cannot have it both ways. Either you want warnings all the time based on any information, or you want warnings when there is specific, credible and verifiable information - none of which was available prior to September 11. So to all the lazy journalists, huffy politicians, and IMC regulars: What do you want?



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