Yesterday, Michael Chertoff, the director of Homeland Security, told
the nation that they should be scared out of their minds, because he
has a "gut feeling" that Al-Qaeda will launch a terrorist attack within
the United States sometime this summer, and a bunch of anonymous government sources are breathlessly leaking truly scary things to Mass Media.
Bull. Fucking. Shit. This is the same recycled crap that we've heard over and over again from this administration, and I'm really fed up with my government doing its best to terrify me and my fellow Americans.
As Radley Balko said in Reason:
By definition, the aim of "terrorism" is not to topple the U.S. government, or even to rack up a massive body count (though that seems to be a perk for them). The aim of terrorism is to cause terror. It's to scare us. Frighten us. Alter our way of life, and get our government to change its policies.
In this sense, the very people who are supposed to be protecting us from terrorists are playing right into the terrorists' hands. Despite the absence of any specific information, and despite the fact that his saying as much would do little if anything to actually thwart a pending attack, Chertoff still feels he has to go public with his "gut feeling" that something awful might happen this summer. And so the newspapers and Drudge and the blogs run with it. And now we get to go about our summer business with the foreboding cloud of a possible terror attack looming on the horizon.
This is pretty consistent with how the government has behaved since 9/11: vague warnings, a lack of specific information, and lots of hassle. We now go through an expensive, invasive, tedious, basically useless ritual every time we get on an airplane because the government feels like if we're hassled and frightened, we'll at least feel safer. When Britain broke up a half-assed attempt at an attack using liquid explosives, the government decided to add a complicated sorta'-ban on carrying gels and liquids onto flights, too. Never mind that the broken-up attack wouldn't have worked, or that it would be nearly impossible to bring down a plane with liquid explosives stored in a carry-on bag. And now, Chertoff casts a shadow over the summer based on rumbles in his gut.
Al-Qaeda doesn't actually have to kill people to cause terror, especially if we're doing their PR work for them.
This is part of a long-established pattern from this administration:
when the public begins to see them for what they are, they scramble to
issue a bunch of terrorist attack warnings, so we'll be afraid and give
them whatever they want, so they can "protect" us. Perfect example: the stupid security
theater in airports isn't about safety (certainly not the War On More
Than Three Ounces Of Liquid), it is about keeping people afraid and
What's going on right now? Ah, yes, Bush and Cheney have the highest disapproval ratings since Nixon, and Bush's approval among Americans is in freefall. The opposition to Bush's complete failure in Iraq is at an all-time high. The outrageous commutation of Scooter Libby's jail conviction -- well within federal guidelines -- because Bush thought it was "excessive" has infuriated Americans across the political spectrum. The Attorney General is quite clearly a liar, acting not to uphold the Constitution, but in fealty to Bush and Bush alone. Cheney brazenly claimed to be his own branch of government. The US Attorney Firing scandal shows no sign of going away, as Congress finally brings some investigation and oversight to a criminal administration which has acted as if the laws don't apply to it since the day the Supreme Court put them into power. Americans are waking up to all of this, and the reality is difficult to deny: Bush, Cheney, Rove, and everyone in their rotten administration are crooks.
So, in a transparent effort to distract us from the damage they've done to our country, all they have is fear. All they can do is terrify people into submission, and it's disgusting.
So, please, don't be afraid this summer. Don't be part of Bush and Cheney's Culture of Fear. Don't let the terrorists win.