Political Rants by Judy @ 5:07 PM

In July, a computer engineer named Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan was arrested in Pakistan. He is accused of acting as an “e-postman” for al Qaeda, distributing coded messages from group to group. In the same raid, officials also “recovered” documents, computers, surveillance reports and sketches — much of it compiled before 09/11/2001 from information publically available on the net or through other open sources. The material apparently concerned US financial areas like Wall Street and the World Bank.

This in from Reuters:

Ridge Defends ‘Three-Year-Old’ U.S. Terror Alert
Tue Aug 3, 2004 12:05 PM ET

By Mark Egan
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The warning that U.S. financial centers may be attacked by al Qaeda was based largely on three-year-old information, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said on Tuesday, but some intelligence dated from January and he insisted the threat was still real.

Ridge’s appearance in New York at the Citigroup building named on Sunday as a potential al Qaeda target came as U.S. terrorism intelligence has come under fire again, this time for forcing police in New York, Washington and New Jersey to massively increase security based on old information.

“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,” Ridge said.

. . .

Ridge said there was no information on the potential timing of any attack and no evidence of more recent surveillance by al Qaeda of the buildings named in the latest terror alert.


So we’re now at “high threat level” (or “orange stars” for those of you following the Persistent Illusion magical Lucky Charms threat level) because of data that is at least three years old, was mostly compiled before 09/11/2001, and might have been updated 7 months ago? (I’ve seen stories that say that the info was updated in January, may have been updated in January, may have been updated at some unspecified time, or hasn’t been touched for years. You pick.)

Why is this coming out right on the heels of the Democrat Party convention?

Said Ridge:

“We don’t do politics in the Department of Homeland Security. This is not about politics. It’s about confidence in government.”

Uh… OK… so I feel really, really confident in my government now, oh yessiree bob! The Bush Administration will lead us to the promised land!

Oh, c’mon. Of course this is political. The guy was arrested earlier in July. Why wait until right after the Demo Con, why alert the nation to a three-year-old threat, if the motivation is not political? It’s obvious this was meant to crush Kerry’s bounce from the convention.

KPAM radio this morning quoted Ridge as saying he felt it was important to get this information in front of the American public so that we could defend ourselves. Huh? How am I supposed to defend myself against an attack by terrorists? Is this a statement that even makes sense?

Our friends overseas get it:

Allies Spurn U.S.-Style Color-Coded Terror Alerts
Tue Aug 3, 2004 10:11 AM ET
By Peter Graff
LONDON (Reuters) – The latest “code Orange” has drawn mild scorn from U.S. allies in the war on terror, who say Washington’s high-profile alerts cause undue panic and could make people less safe by undermining trust in intelligence. Most of Washington’s major allies have avoided color-coded alerts like those Washington introduced in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, saying the public can do little with warnings unless it is told specifically how to respond.

. . .

Kevin Rosser of Control Risks Group consultancy in London said Britain’s approach “is not to make color-coded warnings, not to publish every possible threat, but work closely with institutions that may be affected to help them tighten security and address threats in the least disruptive way possible.

“The problem (with the American approach) is that it creates public anxiety. If the goal of terrorists is to spread fear and unease then to some extent they’ve done that job for them without anybody carrying out an attack.”

Other countries take similar views. A spokeswoman for Germany’s Interior Ministry said it has an internal threat assessment system, but no equivalent of the public, color-coded U.S. scheme, and “we see no advantages” of introducing one.

. . .

“The security services collect intelligence not to issue warnings but to act on it,” Ami Ayalon, former chief of Israel’s Shin Bet security service told Reuters. “When intelligence is insufficient to guarantee a terrorist attack can be thwarted, you pass the partial information to the police, who often make it public.”

“But there is a price to this method, an emotional toll on the public,” he said. “When I was in the Shin Bet, I often preferred to take the risk and not to say anything, because I felt that regular terror alerts can in themselves lead to a terrorized society.”

Isn’t is amazing how it seems that everyone all over the world gets this — but not Dubya? Oh, no, he’s of the “keep them scared and stupid” school of governmental control.

But this is the kind of crap we’ve come to expect from the Bush administration. Prevarication and exaggeration.

Poor Dubya. He seems so far in over his head. He swaggers around like “I’m cool, look at me, I’m Pres-i-dent.” But it was worth the price of admission to Fahrenheit 911 to see the look on Dubya’s face as he is reading a story with a group of grade school kids and is informed that a plane has been flown into the World Trade Center. Does he jump up and excuse himself to the kids, explaining that he’d love to finish the story but important Presidential duties called? Nope. Not our Dubya. He sat there, shrub-like (pun intended) as though he were planted, for 7 minutes. He didn’t look very full of himself then. Doe-in-the-headlights does not begin to describe the look on his face.

Almost I felt sorry for him. Almost. Then I remembered that he wanted to be a war President. OK, Dubya, so don’t just sit there, lead.

I remember an joke I read right after the last election. The old farmer says that Dubya reminds him of a post turtle. “What’s a post turtle?” asks the author. “Did you ever drive down a country road and come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top?” replied the old farmer. “You know he didn’t get there by himself, he doesn’t belong there, he can’t get anything done while he’s up there, and you just want to help the poor thing down. That’s a post turtle.”

Techie Talk by Judy @ 9:49 AM

Ah, yes, grasshopper… optimizing the table space really does make the blog load faster.

Be a good little sysadmin and remember to do that on a fairly regular basis.

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