October 18, 2002

Well, I Certainly Feel Better.

Well, I Certainly Feel Better. . .

For those of you who have been feeling just a tad too secure lately, here's a dire warning, compliments of our level-headed political leaders, of the terror situation we've been living in for, oh, just over a year now.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 — Terrorists could try to strike again soon in the United States, FBI Director Robert Mueller says, while offering little assurance the agency can thwart the next attack. CIA Director George Tenet says the current situation is comparable to the summer before Sept. 11.

Well, duhhhh! <-- Insert total surfer dude inflection here. Why, I ask you, why does the government feel compelled to keep pounding this obvious crap into our skulls on a daily basis? Oh, right, it's an election year, and our economy is in the pot. Best to focus attention on something that feeds voter fears, I suppose.

"I have a hard time telling the country that you should be comfortable, that we've covered all the bases, in the wake of what we saw they were able to accomplish on Sept. 11," Mueller told the House and Senate Intelligence committees Thursday.

They? Who are they? Oh, right, al Queda, or al Quaida, or al Quaeda, or al Quesadilla. Would somebody please come up with a damn concensus on how that organization spells its name? Argh!

Tenet testified: "You must make the analytical judgment that the possibility exists that people are planning to attack you inside the United States - multiple simultaneous attacks. We are the enemy, we're the people they want to hurt inside this country."

We're the people they want to hurt inside this country? Who else are they going to attack inside this country? Swedes? How bored is the House and Senate that they have to organize committees to hear such obvious testimony? Is there a Committee on Deciding Whether Bile Tastes Better Than Mountain Dew? Actually, that's probably a toss-up, er, no pun intended.

At a hearing called to look back at what intelligence agencies did right and wrong before Sept. 11, many lawmakers focused on the future: How likely is another attack and how prepared are U.S. officials to respond to it? The answers Mueller and Tenet gave were sobering.

Gotta love the journalistic interjection of a little bias. Sobering? Am I to assume the reporter showed up drunk and was magically sobered up by the news that additional attacks are imminent? Why is this entry so littered with questions? Why is "fart" such a funny word?

‘EXECUTION PHASE' (Ooh, now that's an edge-of-your-seat sub-head if ever there was one)

"You must make the assumption that al-Qaida is in an execution phase and intends to strike us both here and overseas," Tenet said, noting recent attacks in Kuwait and Indonesia and off Yemen. "That's unambiguous as far as I'm concerned."

Oh, you want ambiguity? Why didn't you say so? Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the King of Ambiguity (a little nation of no consequence), the honorable George Tenet and his equally ambiguous cohort Gordon Johndroe (not to be confused with John Doe):

Tenet said Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has already taken defensive measures "in specific areas where the intelligence was most credible and in sectors where we're most worried about." He didn't identify them. The nationwide alert level remains code yellow, or "significant risk of terrorist attacks," because officials do not have specific details on where and when an attack may occur, Homeland Security spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. Yellow is the third-highest of five threat levels.

Now that's ambiguity!

Last week, the FBI and several federal agencies overseeing certain high-risk sectors such as transportation, energy and agriculture sent warnings urging extra precautions. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., noted intelligence warnings that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein could order terrorist attacks against Americans if the United States invades his country.

Wait a minute. The last I heard, Iraqi ties to terrorism were tenuous at best. Suddenly Saddam is capable of ordering terrorist attacks? Wouldn't Suddenly Saddam be a most excellent NBC sitcom to follow Friends? The premise for the show would be a displaced Iraqi dictator (we'll call him Saddam) trying to eke out a living in a major U.S. metropolitan area (I'm thinking Baltimore).


"I'm concerned that we are not prepared for that, particularly not prepared here inside the United States," Graham said in an interview.

Not prepared for my brilliant Suddenly Saddam sitcom? Who says? Oh, wait, he's talking about terrorism. My bad.

Mueller said the FBI is focusing on the threat of terrorists who would use military action against Iraq as a pretext to strike. But he said an attack as meticulously planned and executed as the Sept. 11 hijackings would be hard to stop. At Thursday's hearing, Tenet offered his most detailed public accounting to date of what the CIA did to stop Osama bin Laden's terrorist network before Sept. 11. He said his agency has saved thousands of lives by successfully stopping terrorist attacks, but admitted some mistakes were made.

Cutscene to images of airliners crashing into World Trade center, smoldering Pentagon wall, large crater in Pennsylvania, and anthrax mail augmenting the assertion that "some mistakes were made."

Tenet said the CIA was convinced months before the Sept. 11 hijackings that bin Laden was plotting to kill large numbers of Americans, but the intelligence available was "maddeningly short" of details. "The most ominous reporting hinting at something large was also the most vague," he said.

Note to al Queda operatives: Be more specific next time.

The session was the last of five weeks of public hearings, part of the committees' inquiry into intelligence failures leading up to the attacks. A final report will be issued in coming months.

Oh, goody. Can I order my copy now? I need something to help me doze off after a long day of feeling terrified.

Tenet, Mueller and National Security Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden rejected criticism by inquiry staff that U.S. counterterrorism efforts were hampered by a failure to share information and that they hadn't made fighting terrorism a high enough priority before the attacks. Tenet highlighted agency successes, many of them long secret, including the thwarting of planned attacks in Yemen, Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East.

They kinda dropped the ball when it came to that whole assault on American soil that happened about a year ago, but at least they thwarted that attack in Yemen.

Tenet also said the CIA lost 18 percent of its budget and 16 percent of its personnel in post-Cold War cutbacks.

Whine alert! Whine alert!

But even before he spoke, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Whip from California, said: "It's not enough to say we didn't have enough money or enough people. No one does. That's always the case. It's about establishing priorities."

*grrowwwlllll* I don't know about you, but I'm exceedingly turned on by the thought of Nancy Pelosi as a dominatrix, brandishing her Democratic Whip. Spank me, baby!


Tenet also clashed with the committees in an area in which he admitted mistakes: the CIA's failure to put two future Sept. 11 hijackers on watch lists preventing their entry into the United States after they were first associated with al-Qaida, in early 2000. They weren't placed on the lists until a few weeks before the attacks. Tenet said the CIA had alerted the FBI in January 2000 that one of the hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar, had a U.S. visa; the inquiry staff director said no evidence has been found showing the FBI was told about the visa.

Bitch, bitch, bitch. I propose that all future clashes between the FBI and CIA be conducted with actual swords. It would be far more entertaining.

After Tenet said that apparently no one at CIA headquarters had read a cable that said al-Mihdhar had flown to Los Angeles, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked if that was a mistake. "Yes. Of course. In hindsight," Tenet responded.

And that's how the article ended, with Tenet spouting a whipped-dog statement of obeisance. I was hungering for so much more, but I guess I was sufficiently scared by the incompetence of our nation's security as it was.

Posted by Ryan at October 18, 2002 12:16 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!