It is interesting to read the US and UK reporting on a possible al Qaeda attack on US soil in the summer to presidential election period. The reporting in the NY Times and the Washington Post were reasonably similar, but BBC News (audio) is reporting an even stronger version of the BBCNEWS print edition in challenging the timing of the announcement in a period of low administration ratings without an expecting heightening of the alert status from yellow to orange.
The beeb quotes Kerry at relative length, noting in part that today's announcement was "suspicious in an election year, at a time when Mr Bush's opinion poll ratings are falling." There are undoubtedly some in the US that hold a similar opinion but it has yet to surface in our hightstreet press. And the UK are our allies.
Yes, it is possible that al Qaeda wants to repeat its presumed success in Spain here in the US, but I submit that an attack on US soil assists, rather than detracts from, a sitting president. Still, there certainly are targets abounding here in the summer and election period. But I am also troubled by the lack of a move to orange if indeed the risk is so great. I am driven to ask when are we to learn from our mistakes?
Speaking of learning from our mistakes, I note that 9/11 Commission "may fail to produce a unanimous final report" by its 26 July deadline and so resort to separate majority and minority reports. The sticking points seem to devolve around restructuring recommendations of our intel, investigative, and law-enforcement agencies, many of which are said to be "contentious."
The only comfort that I can take from this is that a Republican commission member, Slade Gorton, noted that "the tentative debates have no split on partisan lines by any stretch of the imagination." On reflection, contentious may not be such a bad thing as it may indicate that the commission is trying to stretch itself rather than offering up a bit of embroidery. Now it will boil down to where unanimity can be obtained:
The narrative history of US intel and enforcement failures, substantive options that have a high majority or unanimity, and those options that demand a dissenting minority opinion. Whatever the commission's recommendations, it is unlikely to alter the current summer threat, if it is correct, as the support and initial scouting teams are already active. The shooters cannot be far behind.
Intelligence Indicates Al Qaeda Nearing Attack, Ashcroft Says
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: May 26, 2004
New York Times
U.S. Warns of Al Qaeda Threat During Summer
Ridge Cites a 'Continuous Stream of Reporting'
By Susan Schmidt and Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 27, 2004; 10:33 AM
US warns al-Qaeda set to attack
Credible intelligence from multiple sources indicates al-Qaeda is planning an attack on America in the coming months, US security chiefs have warned.
Published: 2004/05/26 20:58:33 GMT
9/11 Panel May Not Reach Unanimity on Final Report
By PHILIP SHENON
May 26, 2004
New York Times