The hyping of post-9/11 threats indeed reflects the same DNA as the hyping of Saddam’s uranium: in both cases, national security scares are trumpeted to advance the White House’s political goals. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC recently compiled 13 “coincidences” in which “a political downturn for the administration,” from revelations of ignored pre-9/11 terror warnings to fresh news of detainee abuses, is “followed by a ‘terror event’ – a change in alert status, an arrest, a warning.” To switch the national subject from the fallout of the televised testimony of the F.B.I. whistle-blower Coleen Rowley in 2002, John Ashcroft went so far as to broadcast a frantic announcement, via satellite from Russia, that the government had “disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot” to explode a dirty bomb. What he was actually referring to was the arrest of a single suspect, Jose Padilla, for allegedly exploring such a plan – an arrest that had taken place a month earlier.
The bigger picture still?
Have we made positive strides when it comes to the so-called war on terror? Is our infrastructure stronger? Are our first responders better prepared? Have we made progress in efforts to lessen threats from abroad?
Ultimately, one so disposed could argue that all of the administration’s half-truths and outright lies were motivated by an obsessive desire to protect America.
But what if the ends and the means are both similarly flawed?