Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Scared shitless

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Speaking of scaring the shit out of the American people -- which I just did -- consider this seemingly scary report from The Blotter:

Senior U.S. intelligence officials tell ABC News new intelligence suggests a small al Qaeda cell is on its way to the United States, or may already be here.

The White House has convened an urgent multi-agency meeting for Thursday afternoon to deal with the new threat.

Well, that is scary, or seems to be. Al Qaeda in America -- the very thought stimulates the sort of fear upon which Bush and Cheney and the Republicans have preyed lo these many years.

And, for all I know, this may be true. Maybe an al Qaeda cell really is in the U.S., or on its way there. And maybe that cell really is targeting "a government facility" -- I can neither confirm nor deny.

But please note this: The sources for this story are anonymous -- as perhaps they need to be, given the circumstances of the war on terror, but anonymity of this sort tends to breed suspicion, or at least it should. Brian Ross, a good but perhaps overly trusting reporter, uses as sources "[s]enior U.S. intelligence officials," "[l]aw enforcement officials," and -- alarm bells, alarm bells -- "[a] senior administration official". Who are these officials? Are credible sources? Or are they sources with a political agenda to push? Given what we know of the modus operandi of the Bush White House, which uses the threat of terrorism as one of its political weapons of choice, and which stokes public fears and feeds off the ensuing irrationality, would it be wrong to think that this is yet another such instance of crying wolf? Given that everything -- and I mean everything -- has gone sour for Bush, and given that his war in Iraq continues to be a disaster, so much so that many in his own party are abandoning him, and given that his approval ratings are pathetically low, given all this, and more, would it be wrong to think that maybe -- just maybe -- yet another threat is being dreamed up, or cooked up, or exaggerated?

Has Bush, or his administration more broadly, given us any reason to trust him?

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