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Timing of frightening news releases re: Disks found in Iraq with U.S. schools info
- Mary Wright [ 10/9/2004 - 10:05 ] #
I have frequently suspected that presidential campaign strategists intentionally employ fear tactics to manipulate approval ratings. In a recent research report in Current Research In Social Psychology, published Sept. 30, 2004, Robb Willer of Cornell University discusses his research. "The Effects Of Government-Issued Terror Warnings On Presidential Approval Ratings". He concludes, "I found consistent evidence supporting the hypothesis that government-issued terror warnings led to increases in President Bush’s approval levels. Further, I found evidence that the threat of terror may lead to more positive evaluations of the president . . ."
This week in particular has raised my "hype-meter" level to "red". Of course, our schools must be safe and kept well-advised by Dept. of Education, Dept. of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. I am most concerned with manipulative timing. If the disk was discovered several months ago, why is its existence only now being released to the public? I suspect that the release of this startling information was withheld to influence voters at election time.
Here is the interesting timeline of events related to U.S. school safety:
Thursday, October 7, 2004
CNN reports, "The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security sent a bulletin to local law enforcement and homeland security officials Wednesday advising schools how to stop a terrorist takeover similar to that of a Russian school in North Ossetia last month. . . The bulletin cautions that, 'There is no imminent threat to U.S. schools and the group that conducted the operation has never attacked or threatened to attack U.S. interests.' It adds that the FBI and DHS are 'currently unaware of any specific, credible information indicating a terrorist threat to public and private schools, universities or colleges in the United States.'"
I have read the bulletin -- actually a letter from Eugene W. Hickok, Deputy Secretary, Dept. of Education -- noting the assertion, "The analysis was done proactively; it was not sent out due to any specific information indicating that there is a terrorist threat to any schools or universities in the United States."
Friday, October 8, 2004
Nationally, almost all news outlets reported this startling story early morning:
Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times reports, "Iraq Disk Mentions U.S. Schools". A computer disk (some outlets mentioned a "CD") found in Iraq "with diagrams and photographs of some American schools has prompted the F.B.I. to contact several districts around the country . . . American military officials in Iraq discovered the computer disk several months ago. It had photos of schools in about a half-dozen states, including New Jersey, Florida and California, as well as diagrams and emergency information for the school districts that had apparently been downloaded from government Web sites, officials said."
Saturday, October 9, 2004
However, when most newsrooms had slowed down for the weekend and the news hole had become crowded with post-presidential-debate spin, the following appeared:
"Iraq Disk Prompted Warning to Schools -- No Attack Plans Found, Officials Say" (Washington Post) This report appears on page A6, in contrast to Friday's frightening report that was played on most front pages. "Intelligence officials theorize that the Iraqi man who owned the computer was a Baathist official now working as a civic planner, according to a government representative. The Department of Homeland Security's intelligence division decided the appearance of the school information on the disk was not an indication of a threat, but the FBI decided to notify the school districts after the Beslan massacre, he said."
". . . some parents were keeping their children home yesterday after increased local and national media attention regarding the disk. . . The unfortunate thing is that parents are very concerned."
If the disk was found several months ago, why was this discovery not released until this week?
Was it simply a coincidence that this report was released the day after Dept. of Education, Dept. of Homeland Security and F.B.I had sent a bulletin advising schools on how to deflect attacks of terrorism?
Why was the dilution of the fearful "disk" and its threat not immediately corrected rather than being released many hours later -- Friday evening?
When such a media report is so frightening to so many, why does the neutralizing correction -- that there appears to be no threat from disk discovery -- appear buried behind the front page of newspapers who had played the initial, fearful report on the front page? Even NPR reported the alarming disk story prominently in Friday newscasts. Yet, on Saturday no follow-on mention detailing "no indication of threat" had been aired on NPR news.
A new generation of political strategists are watching the success of Karl Rove and Karen Hughes in manipulating public fear to raise approval ratings. I expect to see more of this tactic from both camps.
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|Nice piece Mary! I'd have missed this without you. I think you are right on target.||10/10/2004 11:42:00 PM|
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