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Wolf! Wolf!

Oh, great. Now that the "revelations" that the Bush administration was "warned" about 9/11 have become public, be prepared for a whole lot more of this:

American intelligence agencies have intercepted a vague yet troubling series of communications among Al Qaeda operatives over the last few months indicating that the terrorist organization is trying to carry out an operation as big as the Sept. 11 attacks or bigger, according to intelligence and law enforcement officials.
But what sort of operation is it going to be?
"It's again not specific not specific as to time, not specific as to place," one senior administration official said.


The intercepted communications do not point to any detailed plans for an attack, and even the messages mentioning mass casualties do not refer specifically to the use of weapons of mass destruction like chemical, biological or nuclear devices.

So, in short, something might happen somewhere, sometime.

Do we pay people to gather this sort of "information"? No, I shouldn't say that. It's tempting to make fun of it, but in fact it's the direct, foreseeable end result of the partisan criticism coming from Tom Daschle and his ilk. If you attack people for not revealing the information they have, then they're going to respond by revealing all the information they have, whether it's useful or whether it's something someone read in a fortune cookie.

Where's the harm in that? Simple: there's an unlimited amount of data that can be gathered. That's the (relatively) easy part. The government employs people to sift through it and separate the wheat from the chaff -- the difficult part. In the scapegoating environment which surrounds congressional hearings, people are going to be afraid to do that. Nobody in his right mind would want to be the person with an unconnected dot on his desk (or worse yet, in his trash can) when the next attack comes. So the wheat stays mixed in with the chaff, the hard work never gets done, and the real information is never identified as such.

And then there's the boy-who-cried-wolf atmosphere which is going to be created. The public -- and even law enforcement -- is going to stop taking warnings seriously when they come every week and never pan out. When the true warning comes, people won't know the difference.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 19, 2002 2:55 AM.

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