Keith Olbermann took time out from making the world safe for Edward R. Murrow impersonators on his show Monday night to offer some interesting thoughts on the connection between bad news about the Bush Administration (and the proximity to elections) and the exposure of terror plots, the issuance of terror alerts, and government advice on how to prepare for a terrorist assault.
Showing how every time there was a terror plot uncovered or when the old Homeland Security Threat level was bumped up it seemed to coincide with what Olbermann saw as a bad news day for the Administration, the Anti-Murrow sought to prove that there is no such thing as a serious terror threat to the United States, that it is all a case of political smoke and mirrors by an evil and manipulative White House.
No, really. For instance, when the Phoenix FBI agent testified before Congress about her superiors ignoring her warnings about terrorists training in flight schools, Senator Graham remarked that her testimony had inspired other pre-9/11 “whistleblowers” to come forward.
“Just” 4 days later, Keith informs us ominously, then Attorney General Ashcroft announced the arrest of Jose Padilla for the dirty bomb plot – even though he had already been in custody for a month! (Cue Darth Vader theme.)
What Keith failed to mention is that if we had announced the arrest of Padilla before assuring ourselves that such information would not alert any of Padilla’s co-conspirators, he would have been all over the Administration for blowing an intelligence bonanza. And what is the significance of this happening “just” 4 days after the testimony of the Phoenix FBI agent? Why, none of course – unless you live in the topsy turvy, upside down world of Keith Olbermann and his drooling conspiracy minded netnuts. Why not make the announcement the day after the testimony? Or the next day? Why wait 4 days? Only a blithering idiot wouldn’t see the 4 day gap as totally disproving the idea that the Administration used the announcement to deflect attention from their pre-9/11 failures.
This idea of a political basis for announcing terror threats and raising the level of concern about an attack is a remix of an old recording that was last played all throughout the election of 2004. The netnuts went positively ballistic every time that Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge showed his face on TV.
The beauty of this critique is obvious; the left gets to have it both ways. If the Administration hadn’t said anything and an attack occurred, they would be all over the Bushies for not only failing to prevent the attack but for not warning the American people. And since the Administration did get out front in raising the threat level and warning of an attack, the left can claim that it was driven by partisan politics.
Simple. Elegant. And monumentally stupid.
Olbermann’s idea of “bad news” for the Administration is so obtuse as to be beyond belief. He cites Secretary Powell’s speech before the UN on February 5, 2003 where claims of WMD in Iraq were disproven “months later.” But just two days later, amidst the news of anti-war demonstrations around the world, Secretary Ridge raises the threat level to orange.
Excuse me but does anyone else see that particular example of the Administration playing politics with terror alerts to be out and out idiocy? What does Powell’s speech (not disproven for months) have to do with raising the threat level a few days later? And does anyone seriously believe that the Administration could have cared one whit about anti-war demonstrators in Amsterdam? Or the pitifully few 60’s holdovers who turned out in this country? So much so that they went to the trouble and huge expense of raising the threat level?
Keith Olbermann is a loon. And while he made mention of the logical fallacy argument – that just because event A and event B happen to occur at the same time, it doesn’t mean there is a connection between the two – he then descends into the outer darkness to make his point. He states the danger of logical fallacies and then goes ahead and engages in them. This kind of breathtaking stupidity is what Olbermann does best and it’s why the netnuts love him so. His thoughts mirror their paranoid worldview – that terrorism is vastly overblown as a threat to our security and that the Bushies have used the issue to convince Americans “to fear fear itself” according to Keith.
” â€¦from the mind-bending idea that four guys dressed as Pizza Delivery men were going to out-gun all the soldiers at Fort Dixâ€¦to the not-too-thought-out plan to blow-up J-F-K Airportâ€¦ here we go again…”
Yeah…and the idea that 19 guys with box cutters planning to hijack planes and fly them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center is just plain kooky. (Note: For the record, the soldiers at Fort Dix were unarmed. Their weapons were locked up.)
It isn’t just the idea that there is always a political angle to terrorism threats in this country that makes Olbermann’s fantasies so destructive. Anyone so naive as to believe that there isn’t any political calculation in some of the things done by the FBI or DHS doesn’t know government very well. High profile investigations and raids always seem to get wrapped up around budget request time. The same goes, I’m sure, for some terrorism related investigations as well. This is the nature of the beast and trying to change it would be like trying to stop the rain.
But the thought that the Administration systematically used terrorism as a political club to blunt bad news is so outrageous as to reveal Olbermann and those who agree with him to be blissfully ignorant of reality. There is little doubt that Secretary Ridge wanted to be less aggressive in raising the threat level than the White House – not because he didn’t think the threat was bogus but because he thought that the constant yo-yoing of the color coded threat board lessened its impact. But can you chalk that up to politics? Or is there perhaps a more mundane reason such as the Administration wanting to be safe rather than sorry? CYA is a much more realistic – dare I say “reality based” – reason for the threat level rising than any Master Plan by the Bush Administration to use fear as a political weapon.
I’ve written this before half in jest but it bears repeating: Perhaps the best thing that could happen to this country’s preparedness for a terrorist attack is if we elected a Democrat as President. Not because he would do a better job than a Republican. It’s just that Republicans are far less likely to deliberately undermine our battle here at home to stay safe by positing wild, unprovable, paranoid conspiracy theories about the seriousness of the terror threat than the Democrats and their loony netnuts. I doubt very much that the left will disbelieve a Democratic Administration that announces the foiling of a terrorist plot. Nor will there be a whisper about using fear of terrorism as a political weapon.
At the very least, a Democratic Administration will keep the paranoid loons spouting their conspiracy theories relatively quiet for four years. It might be worth it just to enjoy that particular blessing.
Speaking of pooh-poohing the terrorist threat, Michelle has a “Gathering of Ostriches” who prove that Keith Olbermann isn’t the only one who thinks denial is just a river in Egypt.
If I’d read Allah first, I wouldn’t have bothered:
Youâ€™ll note, I hope, that even Olby recognizes how dishonest heâ€™s being. Thatâ€™s why he feels obliged to mention not once but twice that coincidences do happen and, in his words, â€œwe could probably construct a similar timeline of terror events and their relationship to the haircuts of popular politicians.â€ Why do it, then? Because, as the Truthers are wont to say, heâ€™s â€œjust asking questions.â€ Just â€œairing it,â€ Sullivan style. Make up your own mind.
What he doesnâ€™t note is that 9 of the 13 terror alerts he cites were issued prior to Katrinaâ€™s assault on New Orleans, widely accepted as the beginning of the steep decline of the Bush presidency. It stands to reason that if terror warnings were deliberately timed to â€œdistract,â€ weâ€™d find them congregated around the administrationâ€™s true crisis moments. Instead, Olbyâ€™s forced to link the JFK plot to the U.S. Attorneys scandal, which had long since reached critical mass. Where were the terror alerts during the battle over Iraq funding? When Bush first announced the surge? After the Hamdan decision? Even by his own absurd non-logic, it makes more sense to claim that the JFK plot was timed to distract from the amnesty uproar. But Olby canâ€™t claim that because Bush is on the leftâ€™s side on that one, so heâ€™s forced to feebly tie it back to Gonzalesgate and the Democratic debate.
He also doesnâ€™t seem to grasp that just because the pipeline plot wasnâ€™t feasible doesnâ€™t mean no attack would have occurred. Youâ€™ve got a group of men with homicidal intent willing to travel internationally to bring off their plan. If theyâ€™re game for that, theyâ€™re probably game for walking into a crowd of people and opening up with automatic weapons and grenades. It wonâ€™t take out an airport, but you might very well top the body count from the London bombings two years ago.
Read the whole thing.