There seems to be a lot of hype about the fact that much of the intelligence that spurred the most recent wave of terror attacks is years old. While not completely dismissing those concerns, let’s keep in mind that things ARE different now than they were before 9/11.
Here’s a screenshot from MSNBC.com this morning:
Fair questions. Fair reporting.
But I really, truly believe we’d be hearing the same thing from the same people if this had been the screenshot almost three years ago if terror alerts based on old information had been issued:
(A graphic artist I’m not.) Notice the date. Don’t we wish that we had “over-reacted” to dated information a little more often? Just because we’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get us.
UPDATE: I think I inadvertently “hoaxed” One Hand Clapping. My intent with this post was to show what we might have been looking at in September of 2001 had we used the mish-mash of old, suspect, and partial intel that was available at that time to prevent 9/11. We would be looking at jets streaking past the still-standing Twin Towers and listening to cries of fear-mongering from the media and opponents of the administration. And we’d have no appreciation for what had been averted.
We will probably not be attacked within the next week, at least not in the way that the recent security alert implied. But we won’t really ever know if the lack of an attack was due to the security or if there was never going to be an attack. How about those planes around Christmas? Another intel screw-up, right? As far as we know, though, the groundings and hyped security could have prevented suicide hijackings into the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben. Or they could have been nothing. Or maybe they were operations by our intelligence agencies designed to flush out suspected terrorists.
The upshot of a defensive, intel and law enforcement-only “war on terror” is that we’ll be subject to a (literally) endless string of terror alerts and danger warnings. The longer we are successful at fending off attacks, the more complacent the population will become. We will be victims of our own success, which is what the 9/11 Commission Report says happened to the FBI after their very successful investigations of the 1993 WTC bombing. They, and everyone else, thought we had it under control. Danger signs were ignored or shrugged off. We all thought that the authorities had a handle on it. Bin Laden continually told us he was at war with us and that he didn’t differentiate between soldiers and civilians. We didn’t listen, so we paid.
But if we HAD stopped 9/11 in it’s tracks, we wouldn’t truly recognize what had been done. Instead of sobbing in relief and thanking God, we would be griping about increased lines at the airport and the racial profiling that led to the arrest of 19 Muslims on 9/10/01. And the media would be all over Bush for it. Never mind trying to strike Afghanistan.
We would never know when the terror alert was real. We would always wonder if it was just ‘The Man’ keeping us in line. How do I know? Because today, AFTER 9/11, we already think that. Fed up the the USA PATRIOT Act? Think how fed up you’d be if it were implemented without there having been a successful 9/11 attack.
Did I out-clever myself here?
UPDATE 2: Mr. Sensing fixed his post. I’m so ashamed…