When Attorney General John Ashcroft warned of an attack planned on America planned for sometime in the coming months, we all took notice. In warning Americans to brace for a possible attack, Ashcroft cited what he called "credible intelligence from multiple sources," saying that "just after New Year's, al-Qaida announced openly that preparations for an attack on the United States were 70 percent complete. After the March 11 attack in Madrid, Spain, an al-Qaida spokesman announced that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack in the United States were complete." Very scary stuff.
MSNBC is reporting there's no evidence a credible al-Qaida spokesman ever said that, and the claims actually were made by a largely discredited group, Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, known for putting propaganda on the Internet. In other words, Ashcroft took something said by a source that is notorious for lying and based his speech last week on it. For example, this source took responsibility for our massive blackout last August. We all know that wasn't an act of terrorism at all.
I have so many concerns about this, I don't know where to begin. Now that we all know this warning of an imminent attack on American soil is based on non-credible sources, who believes Ashcroft? More importantly, who will believe Ashcroft next time he warns us of something or who will take the FBI seriously when they do the same? A great deal of credibility and integrity has been lost here.
My immediate instincts following Ashcroft's speech last week was that Dubya's regime was distracting Americans who were becoming all to aware of the problems caused by the current administration. Nothing will distract Joe Smith from Jackson, Mississippi better than telling him al-Qaida is coming this summer to a location near him. It certainly got my attention. Of course the most brilliant aspect of such an announcement is the benefit Dubya would enjoy in November. I'm sure just before the election Dubya will remind Americans that his security forces and intelligence operatives prevented an imminent attack in the summer of 2004. As important as the economy, environment and foreign affairs are, nothing is more important to voters than their personal safety and the safety of their families. If you believe Dubya is the reason al-Qaida didn't attack this summer, would you rock the boat by voting for John Kerry? Of course not. You haven't been attacked since 9/11, why mess with a good thing?
In a related story, the Washington Post is reporting this morning on the volume of negative attacks on John Kerry by the Dubya reelection machine. "Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts."
On Tuesday, President Bush's campaign began airing an ad saying Kerry would scrap wiretaps that are needed to hunt terrorists.
The same day, the Bush campaign charged in a memo sent to reporters and through surrogates that Kerry wants to raise the gasoline tax by 50 cents.
On Wednesday and Thursday, as Kerry campaigned in Seattle, he was greeted by another Bush ad alleging that Kerry now opposes education changes that he supported in 2001.
The charges were all tough, serious -- and wrong, or at least highly misleading. Kerry did not question the war on terrorism, has proposed repealing tax cuts only for those earning more than $200,000, supports wiretaps, has not endorsed a 50-cent gasoline tax increase in 10 years, and continues to support the education changes, albeit with modifications.
I pray we never have to endure another act of terrorism, but Ashcroft's comments were inappropriate and an unnecessary incitement of panic. Post-9/11 we all have to be more aware but claiming preparations for an attack on the United States is already 70 percent complete is inaccurate. This lie, along with the lies Bush's reelection campaign makes about John Kerry on a daily basis, are just more lies from an admistration that does nothing but lie. They went to war based on a lie. Their credibility is zero. That too, is very scary stuff.
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