August 3, 2004
I don't underestimate Al Qaeda.
These guys are killers, and they want to kill again. So we've got to go after them, and we've got to be on our guard.
But it does no good, in fact, it does actual harm, for the Bush Administration to keep issuing alerts and then backpedaling on the evidence for those alerts.
On Sunday and Monday, we were told repeatedly that the threat to Citibank, the New York Stock Exchange, Prudential in Newark, and the World Bank and IMF in Washington was specific and highly alarming.
Officials warned us that Al Qaeda's monitoring of these buildings "probably continues every day" and the terrorists had recently practiced "test runs" at Prudential.
Now it comes out that most of the intelligence was three or four years old and that the evidence of current surveillance and test runs may be nonexistent!
Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has some serious explaining to do. It is very irresponsible, when he is raising the terror alert, for him not to convey the most solid information at hand so that the citizenry can have an accurate sense of the threat they are facing.
By seeming to exaggerate the threat, the Bush Administration creates the boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome, and it also lends credence to those who claim the Administration is just playing a political game with the war on terror, hyping the threat this time just three days after the end of the Democratic convention.
If that turns out to be the case, Bush will have even more to answer for.