Thursday, July 08, 2004
There are many sleeves and many cards and many tricks in Washington. And since BushCo knows the only way they can win is by cheating, I think many of those tricks will emerge. We already know that Pakistan is on high election alert. Well, we Americans are too. Just to keep us guessing.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge on Thursday warned Americans that al Qaeda may try to carry out a large-scale attack to disrupt upcoming elections but offered no details and had no plans to raise the terror threat level.
Democrats used the latest warning, which provided no specific new intelligence about an attack on any particular site, to urge the Republican-led Senate to act on legislation for homeland security funding.
Ridge said the warning was based on intelligence received from credible sources gathered over the past months.
"Credible reporting now indicates that al Qaeda is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the United States in an effort to disrupt our democratic process."
Just what is that credible reporting? They cannot say. Which is probably for the best. If they cite the CIA there will be doubt since that agency is taking most of the heat for pre 9/11 oversight and downright faulty intelligence in Iraq -- another grave BushCo has dug for themselves. This way they don't have to reveal anything, maintaining that pristine plausible deniability, while still planting the seeds of fear. And m, are they pulling out all the stops! They killed Reagan, they're trying to "find" Osama, and we have to face the horrible spectre of terrorism disrupting our democratic process. How inconvenient!
Not that this would ever, EVER happen, but please, humor me, suspend your disbelief, put aside the great respect and admiration you have for BushCo, and take a listen to this. It may shock you, but apparently the Administration would very much like for Osama bin Laden to be caught. Before the Elections. And actually, they're sort of hoping it can happen right in the middle of the Democratic National Convention. It's no big deal, really. Just a small request.
This spring, the administration significantly increased its pressure on Pakistan to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri, or the Taliban's Mullah Mohammed Omar, all of whom are believed to be hiding in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan. A succession of high-level American officials--from outgoing CIA Director George Tenet to Secretary of State Colin Powell to Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca to State Department counterterrorism chief Cofer Black to a top CIA South Asia official--have visited Pakistan in recent months to urge General Pervez Musharraf's government to do more in the war on terrorism. In April, Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to Afghanistan, publicly chided the Pakistanis for providing a "sanctuary" for Al Qaeda and Taliban forces crossing the Afghan border. "The problem has not been solved and needs to be solved, the sooner the better," he said.
This public pressure would be appropriate, even laudable, had it not been accompanied by an unseemly private insistence that the Pakistanis deliver these high-value targets (HVTs) before Americans go to the polls in November. The Bush administration denies it has geared the war on terrorism to the electoral calendar. "Our attitude and actions have been the same since September 11 in terms of getting high-value targets off the street, and that doesn't change because of an election," says National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack. But The New Republic has learned that Pakistani security officials have been told they must produce HVTs by the election. According to one source in Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), "The Pakistani government is really desperate and wants to flush out bin Laden and his associates after the latest pressures from the U.S. administration to deliver before the [upcoming] U.S. elections."
And is that really so much to ask?