Terror alerts conveniently timed

NEW YORK — Over the last three years, political problems for the Bush administration have frequently coincided with the announcement of changes in alert status, arrests, and other warnings about potential terrorist threats. The list was released last week by MSNBC personality Keith Obermann, who posted the details on his blog.

While noting that “just because Event ‘A’ occurs, and then Event ‘B’ occurs, that does not automatically mean that ‘A’ caused ‘B’,“ Obermann concludes that the sheer number of coincidences “underscores the need for questions to be asked in this country — questions about what is prudence, and what is fear-mongering.”

Here are some highlights:

  • On May 18, 2002, details of the president’s daily briefing of Aug. 6, 2001, are revealed, including its title, “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.” Two days later, FBI Director Robert Mueller declares another terrorist attack “inevitable.” The following day, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues warnings of attacks against railroads and New York City landmarks.
  • On June 6, 2002, Colleen Rowley, the FBI agent who tried to alert her superiors to the specialized flight training taken by Zacarias Moussaoui, testifies before Congress. Four days later, Attorney General John Ashcroft reveals that Jose Padilla is under arrest, accused of plotting a bomb attack. By this time, Padilla has been detained for more than a month.
  • On Feb. 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell tells the UN Security Council about Iraq’s concealment of weapons, justifying a UN or U.S. first strike. Two days later, amidst anti-war demonstrations around the world, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge cites “credible threats” by al-Qaeda, and raises the terror alert level to orange.
  • On July 24, 2003, a congressional report on 9/11 concludes that Iraq had no link to al-Qaeda. Five days later, amid headlines about U.S troops abusing Iraqi prisoners, the Department of Homeland Security issues warnings of further terrorist attempts to use aeroplanes for suicide attacks.
  • On Dec. 17, 2003, 9/11 Commission Co-Chairman Thomas Kean says the attacks were preventable. The next day, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, David Kay, who has found no weapons of mass destruction, announces he will resign. Three days later, DHS again raises the threat level to orange, claiming “credible intelligence” of further plots to crash airliners into U.S. cities.
  • On March 30, 2004, the new chief weapons inspector in Iraq tells Congress that investigators still haven’t found any WMD. Three days later, DHS issues a warning that terrorists may try to blow up buses and trains.
  • On July 6, 2004. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry selects U.S. Sen. John Edwards as his running mate, producing a swing in media attention. Two days later, DHS Secretary Ridge warns of information about expected al-Qaeda attacks during the summer or autumn.
  • On July 29, 2004, the Democrats nominate Kerry for president. Three days later, the DHS raises to orange the alert status for financial centers in New York, New Jersey, and Washington. The evidence proves to be four years old and out-of-date.
  • On Oct. 6, 2005, the press reports that Karl Rove will testify again to the CIA leak grand jury, and that the special prosecutor can’t guarantee that he will not be indicted. Hours later, New York officials disclose a bomb threat to the city’s subway system, based on information supplied by the federal government and later proven false.

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