Thursday, May 27, 2004

Even The Bushies Aren’t Buying It

Think that the heightened terror warning is politically motivated? Well, so do a lot of people, and not just Bush opponents. From the New York Times:

Attorney General John Ashcroft said at a news conference that intelligence reports and public statements by people associated with Al Qaeda suggested that the terrorist group was “almost ready to attack the United States” and harbored a “specific intention to hit the United States hard.”

But some intelligence officials, terrorism experts – and to some extent even Mr. Ashcroft’s own F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III – offered a more tempered assessment, saying, “For the next few weeks we have reason to believe there is a heightened threat to the U.S. interests around the world.” And some opponents of President Bush, including police and firefighter union leaders aligned with Senator John Kerry, the expected Democratic presidential candidate, said the timing of the announcement appeared intended in part to distract attention from Mr. Bush’s sagging poll numbers and problems in Iraq.

The administration did not raise the terrorist threat advisory from its current level of elevated, or yellow, and the White House said Mr. Bush would not alter his schedule because of security concerns.

“There’s no real new intelligence, and a lot of this has been out there already,” said one administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “There really is no significant change that would require us to change the alert level of the country.”

[edit]

Some intelligence officials said they were uncertain that the link between the fresh intelligence and the likelihood of another attack was as apparent as Mr. Ashcroft made it out to be. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security said just a day before Mr. Ashcroft’s announcement that they had no new intelligence pointing to the threat of an attack.