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US terror alert is a lie

The US government put the country on high alert this week, citing "new" and "specific" intelligence. They did not mention that the intelligence was from before 9/11, and that their response therefore comes more than two years too late.

Earlier this week the authorities suddenly put New York and Washington DC on a "high" security alert, announcing that al-Qaeda was planning to attack specific targets. Security was increased, and heavily armed police units were deployed in "response".

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge held a press conference in Washington to announce that officials had obtained "new and unusually specific information about where al Qaeda would like to attack." They made it look like they had discovered a new threat, but this was a lie.

The new "terror alert" was engineered to occur on the day that the government announced their official response to the 9/11 Commission, including a new post to oversee homeland security, and of course it coincides with Bush's election campaign in which security is a key selling point.

The US government is lying to you. They lie about intelligence and terrorize the people of America because it advances their agenda.


BBC News, "US terror plot intelligence 'old'", 3 August 2004.
[ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3530358.stm ]
    The US administration admits that new warnings of attacks on American cities were based on information gathered by al-Qaeda up to four years ago.
Security was tightened around US financial institutions earlier this week after raids in Pakistan recovered documents reportedly naming them.
    Homeland security adviser Frances Townsend said some of the information recovered was collected in 2000/2001.
    But she said some may have been updated "as recently as January of this year."
    On Sunday, Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge said the US had received "new and unusually specific information about where al-Qaeda would like to attack".
    "In light of new intelligence information, we have made the decision to raise the threat level for this sector in these communities to bring protective resources to an even higher level," Mr Ridge said.
    Some have suggested that the timing of the latest US government warning is designed to knock presidential challenger John Kerry off the front pages after his nomination as the Democratic Party's candidate last week.
    But Ms Townsend said: "It had nothing to do with the Democratic National Convention."
    Her comments followed reports in leading American newspapers that US officials were unsure if Osama Bin Laden's network was still conducting surveillance on the sites named as potential targets.
    She confirmed: "You can't tell from the intelligence itself whether or not those individuals [who amassed it] are still here."
    Employees turned up for work this week despite specific US government warnings naming the New York Stock Exchange, the Citigroup Center building in New York, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank buildings in Washington DC, and Prudential Financial's headquarters in Newark, New Jersey.
    The raids in Pakistan reportedly turned up hundreds of photos, sketches and written documents, which included details on the number of pedestrians passing named buildings, and whether explosives would be able to melt the steel holding them up.
    A computer and communications expert reportedly linked to al-Qaeda, Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, and one of America's most wanted terror suspects, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, were among those held by the security forces.
    'Nation in danger'
    BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says some leading Democrats believe that the Bush administration is playing the terrorism card for all it is worth.
    But he adds that whatever lies behind this heightened alert, the broader threat remains real enough and is likely to grow as November's election gets closer.
    President George W Bush has described the US as a "nation in danger".
    He has asked Congress to clear the way for a new national intelligence director, and announced the creation of a national counter-terrorism centre to collect and analyse data on suspected terrorist activities.
    The measures follow recommendations made by the Senate commission that investigated the 11 September attacks.

Washington Post, "Pre-9/11 Acts Led To Alerts", front page, 3 August 2004.
[ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35466-2004Aug2.html ]
    Officials Not Sure Al Qaeda Continued To Spy on Buildings
    Most of the al Qaeda surveillance of five financial institutions that led to a new terrorism alert Sunday was conducted before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and authorities are not sure whether the casing of the buildings has continued, numerous intelligence and law enforcement officials said yesterday.
    President Bush and Vice President Cheney said in separate appearances yesterday that the new alert underscores the continuing threat posed by al Qaeda. At a news conference announcing his proposed intelligence reforms, Bush said the alert shows "there's an enemy which hates what we stand for."
    "It's serious business," Bush said. "I mean, we wouldn't be, you know, contacting authorities at the local level unless something was real."
    Speaking about the five buildings, one official said, "I believe that since 9/11 they have been able to acquire additional information on these targets here in the United States, yes, I do."
    Numerous officials said yesterday, however, that most of the information was compiled prior to the Sept. 11 attacks and that there are serious doubts about the age of other, undated files. One senior counterterrorism official said many of the documents include dates prior to Sept. 11, 2001, but there are no dates after that.

Washington Times (US), "Terrorists target finances", 2 August 2004.
[ http://washtimes.com/national/20040802-123610-4798r.htm ]
    The federal government increased the threat level to "high" for specific financial institutions in New York City, Washington and New Jersey yesterday, citing intelligence about a terrorist plot to strike with car or truck bombs.
    New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said trucks would be banned starting today from the Williamsburg Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, the Associated Press reported.
    The Holland Tunnel, which runs from New Jersey into Lower Manhattan, would be closed to all inbound commercial traffic also beginning today, said Tony Ciavolella, spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
    Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge held a press conference in Washington to announce that officials had obtained "new and unusually specific information about where al Qaeda would like to attack."
    He named the following as the most likely targets:
    •The Citicorp building and the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.
    •The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank buildings in Washington.
    •The Prudential Plaza in Newark, N.J.
    "Based on what we've gleaned so far, the preferred method of attack or what's being suggested in the reporting is car and truck bombs," Mr. Ridge said.
    Mr. Ridge said the targets were "significant institutions that relate to our leadership role in the international economy," but said even attacks on key institutions cannot significantly disrupt world financial markets.


The Independent (UK), "Terror alert: how four-year-old information was transformed into clear and present danger", front page, 4 August 2004.
[ http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=547719 ]
    The Bush administration was forced into the embarrassing admission yesterday that "new" intelligence about al-Qa'ida's plans to attack US financial institutions - information that led to an official alert and a slew of fresh security measures - was up to four years old and predated the 11 September attacks.
    Intelligence officials were forced into retreat just a day after they had said fresh and "alarmingly" specific information indicated terrorists were planning attacks on institutions in Washington, New York and New Jersey and had been carrying out surveillance of the targets. One investigator had even said that al-Qa'ida operatives had recently carried out a "test-run" for an attack against a bank.
    The security alert in the US prompted alarming reports yesterday of potential attacks on targets in Britain. Head-lines in British newspapers yesterday suggested banks in the City and Canary Wharf could be in bombers' sights.
    Government and counter-terrorist sources said the UK security threat remained unchanged. Anti-terrorist sources said that there was no specific information about targets in Britain contained in the material from Pakistan or any intelligence that needed to be acted upon immediately.
    One city insider accused sections of the media of "irresponsible sensationalism", adding: "The feeling from the Home Office, Metropolitan Police and other London banks is the story has been blown out of proportion. Security has been high since 2001."
    While no extra police officers were deployed in Britain as a direct response to the reports, London-based bankers and city chiefs, alarmed at events in the US, were seeking advice from Scotland Yard.
    Tom Ridge, the Homeland Security Secretary, admitted yesterday that the decision to warn the financial institutions was based on information that was at least three years old.
    He said, however, that the threat remained real and the decision to issue the warning and raise the security level had been "essential". His statement came at the same time that authorities reopened part of the Statue of Liberty for the first time since the attacks in 2001.
    "I don't want anyone to disabuse themselves of the seriousness of this information simply because there are some reports that much of it is dated; it might be two or three years old," he said, speaking at the Citi- group building in Manhattan, which was named as a potential target. He said there was evidence al-Qa'ida had been casing targets as recently as January.
    Replying to accusations the alerts were, to an extent, politically motivated, he added: "We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security. This is not about politics. It's about confidence in government. We have made it more difficult for the terrorists to achieve their broad objectives."
    Despite Mr Ridge's assertion, a transcript of a background briefing provided to the US media on Sunday night by intelligence agencies reveals the extent to which officials were determined to imply the information was current. It was that briefing on which the majority of reports were based.
    During the briefing one official, described only as a "senior intelligence official", said: "The new information is chilling in its scope, in its detail, in its breadth. It also gives a sense, the same feeling one would have if one found that somebody broke into your house and over the past several months was taking a lot of details about your place of residence and looking for ways to attack."
    The official added: "[The information demonstrates] al-Qa'ida is meticulous in its efforts and since 9/11 there has been an effort made to ensure that they have the information that they need in order to carry out attacks."
    The Washington Post , one of many newspapers to carry the claims, yesterday quoted one senior law enforcement official briefed on the intelligence who said: "There is nothing right now that we're hearing that is new. Why did we go to this level? I still don't know that."
    The alert on Sunday resulted in a rapid upgrading of security at the five institutions identified as al-Qa'ida targets: the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup in New York and the Prudential Financial building in Newark, New Jersey. In Washington, police closed roads around the Capitol and put armed officers on the underground, while, in New York, roads and bridges were closed to certain vehicles because the national security level was raised to "orange" (high).
    Those restrictions remained in place yesterday, despite the admission that the information on which they were based was not new.
    The Washington police chief, Charles Ramsey, said the new measures may stay in place at least until after the November presidential election.
    Since the Democrats and their candidate in November's presidential election, John Kerry, want to appear tough on security issues, few senior figures are prepared to publicly criticise the Bush administration.
    For its part, the White House was still insisting yesterday that the three-year-old information was detailed and "chilling". The spokesman, Scott McClellan, said: "I think you have to keep in mind al-Qa'ida's history of planning attacks well in advance and then updating plans just before attacking."
    Many Americans feel sceptical. Jorge Diaz, a building safety worker, told the Reuters news agency he thought the government was overcompensating for failing to give a warning three years ago. He said: "At a certain point it becomes exaggerated."

Washington Post, "Old Data, New Credibility Issues", 4 August 2004.
[ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37911-2004Aug3.html ]
    The White House's failure to make it clear that the dramatic terrorism alert Sunday was based largely on information that predated the Sept. 11 attacks is a case study in the difficulty of managing such warnings for an administration whose credibility is a central issue in a difficult presidential campaign.
    Moreover, the administration's credibility on intelligence matters has been undermined by the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- a fact that Kerry has repeatedly noted on the stump. In his nomination acceptance speech last week, Kerry declared: "Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. . . . As president, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence."
    Jesse L. Jackson, echoing that theme, said he was suspicious of the timing of the alert, just days after the Democratic convention. "We've been told to be on alert" before, he said yesterday, referring to Iraq and the unsuccessful search for banned weapons there. "That did not prove to be true."
    One piece of information on one building, which intelligence officials would not name, appears to have been updated in a computer file as recently as January 2004. But officials could not say whether that data resulted from active surveillance by al Qaeda or came from publicly available information.
    To some extent, the disclosure that the federal government only now learned that three years ago al Qaeda was checking out these buildings underscores the limited nature of the intelligence in the government's hands -- and how little the administration knows about al Qaeda's activities.
    Michael Greenberger, director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland, found it curious that the administration withheld the dated nature of the information at the time of the original announcement and disclosed it only after President Bush made a Rose Garden appearance Monday to discuss reforms of the intelligence community recommended by the Sept. 11 commission.
    When Bush held his news conference, reporters knew only that the administration had recently uncovered this information. Bush "would have faced more difficult questions" if reporters had known how much of the information had been obtained three years after the surveillance, Greenberger said.
    Greenberger added that the alert "has left a lot of anger in its wake" among local officials, who had to use resources and money that might have been held in reserve if the age of the intelligence had been clear from the beginning. He said the administration's credibility may be hurt the next time it issues a warning.
    "It is going to wear the welcome mat away," Greenberger said.
    "I've always found if you are straightforward and honest with people and give them the facts, it is a lot easier for them to deal with," said James Lee Witt, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Bill Clinton and now head of a crisis consulting firm. "They should have said, 'This is the information we found, but it is old.' That is what I would have done."

The Guardian (UK), "US officials defend terror alert", 4 August 2004.
[ http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1275574,00.html ]
    US officials yesterday insisted they were right to raise the alert over a potential terrorist attack against a US financial target, despite the fact that much of the information that prompted the warning was years old.
    Earlier, Tom Ridge, the secretary of homeland security, conceded that almost all the evidence found on computer files seized recently in Pakistan pointed to al-Qaida surveillance of key financial establishments that pre-dated September 11 2001.
    He said that some of the information had been updated as recently as January, but added there was "no evidence" of more recent surveillance. That did not mean there was no imminent threat, he argued, because of al-Qaida's reputation for long-term planning.
    His claim there was no evidence of recent surveillance directly contradicted an earlier intelligence briefing to reporters suggesting the surveillance of targets "probably continues even today".

"The Insider" mailing list article, 03 August 2004.

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