Is this somewhat irresponsible?

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.

More than half a dozen government officials interviewed yesterday, who declined to be identified because classified information is involved, said that most, if not all, of the information about the buildings seized by authorities in a raid in Pakistan last week was about three years old, and possibly older.

“There is nothing right now that we’re hearing that is new,” said one senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the alert. “Why did we go to this level? . . . I still don’t know that.”

One piece of information on one building, which intelligence officials would not name, appears to have been updated in a computer file as late as January 2004, according to a senior intelligence official. But officials could not say yesterday whether that piece of data was the result of active surveillance by al Qaeda or came instead from information about the buildings that is publicly available.

We know that the 9/11 attacks were in the planning for years. Wouldn’t it make sense that other attacks were also being planning and could still be carried out?

I think, especially from the New York Times version, the subtle hint is that the release of the information is politically timed. I think that is irresponsible.

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Erick Erickson

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  • 9/11 (and whatever lessons it taught us) has gone the way of History. That is, we are doomed to repeat it. We ignore that 9/11 was planned years before and to act upon information that could happen at anytime immediately somehow reflects “politics” and such. Meanwhile Kerry says that as President he will put into affect immediately the suggestions of the 9/11 committee. So the Bush administration is damned if you damned if you don’t at this point.

    Who knows what affect these elevated terror threats have on the terrorists (the one’s we should really be worried about) perhaps indeed they show them that we are after you and we know your plans. Isn’t that much better than the Citicorp building blowing up and then afterwards being told we had the information but choose to let it go? You can’t run a government nor protect a nation’s people like that. You must answer every threat the moment you can and forget what the “pundits” say at that point. Better to have a grumpy populace then a terrified and in many cases dead on.

  • I’ll admit to being a Dem, so think what you want of my post. What makes me think the announcement is irresponsible is that not necessarily that the information is years old (I think you make a good point in that the planning could be done so early and still be a viable threat), but that there isn’t any reason to believe that a three year old threat is going to happen “now”. How long can they keep all these financial institutions on ultra tight security? I think keeping the public on a hightened sense of alarm, totally open ended like they are doing, is highly irresponsible.

  • Homeland Security in a difficult position because they can’t release much of the proof of what they’re saying, which opens them up for political attacks. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Democrats would want to make this into “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” That said, this is the third time this year a warning of an increased terror threat has been released that turned out to be a false alarm. It gets harder for me to believe them each time. That’s unfortunate, because maybe they’ll be right about one later and many people will just ignore it.