"Terror Alerts" Have Happened When Bush "Would Have Benefited" - August 6, 2004

August 6, 2004
"Is the New York Times a Liberal Newspaper? Of course it is." - NYT Public Editor Daniel Okrent, July 25, 2004.
"Terror Alerts" Have Happened When Bush "Would Have Benefited"
"Some of the past terror alerts have seemed aimless and happened when the Bush administration would have benefited from a change in the political conversation." - August 5 editorial on the latest terror warnings.

Bush Using Intelligence for Political Gain?

"it's unfortunate that it is necessary to fight suspicions of political timing, suspicions the administration has sown by misleading the public on security. The Times reports today that much of the information that led to the heightened alert is actually three or four years old and that authorities had found no concrete evidence that a terror plot was actually under way. This news does nothing to bolster the confidence Americans need that the administration is not using intelligence for political gain." - August 3 editorial on the latest terror warnings.

Bush Manipulating Terror Threat?
"Some version of that view was echoed at almost every table here as many patrons questioned whether the Bush administration was trying to manipulate the terrorist threat for political advantage.With polls showing public doubts on topics like President Bush's veracity on the war in Iraq and whether the country is safer from terrorism as a result of that invasion, people of diverse ages, income and political persuasion interviewed in eight states expressed a wary mix of skepticism and resignation about the orange alert that has dominated headlines, newscasts and talk radio for three days." - Stephen Kinzer and Todd Purdum in Kenosha, Wis., August 5.

One Out of Three: Pretty Bad
"It has been a rough year for the Bush administration by some measures, with criticism from the Sept. 11 commission, prison scandals in Iraq and a flat economy at home." - Elisabeth Rosenthal in West Virginia, August 4. The economy has been in recovery since mid-2003, and the 9/11 report has been embraced by Bush.

Nagourney Flubs Key Intelligence Fact

"That division was particularly apparent with the disclosure that the Bush administration had elevated the alert based on intelligence collected three or four years ago." - Adam Nagourney, August 4. Although the terror intelligence regarding possible attacks on NYC-area financial institutions is three or four years old, it was collected only weeks ago.

"Wag the Dog," Bush-Style
"But Mr. Bush must also take pains not to be seen as letting the political tail wag the terrorism dog. Word that much of the newly discovered intelligence that prompted the latest alert was years old led even some law enforcement officials to wonder why Mr. Ridge had raised the threat level just now." - Todd Purdum, August 4.

Threat Data Comes at "Awkward Time" for Defensive Bush
"On Sunday at 2 p.m. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced the decision to raise the threat level. Senior administration officials said the action was not driven by election-year considerations, but by intelligence reports that described an orchestrated surveillance operation at several large financial institutions. It is now apparent that the information had significant gaps and omissions. It was not clear, for example, who was behind the scouting missions, whether these unidentified suspects were still in the United States or even whether their reconnaissance operations, many of which were conducted three or four years ago, represented an aborted plan or were an early warning sign of an active plot. The new threat information seemed to come at an awkward time for Mr. Bush, who has anchored his re-election campaign on his handling of terrorism, but is still on the defensive because of criticism by the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks." - David Johnston and Eric Lichtblau, August 4.

Tom Daschle: Gentle, Soft-Spoken, and Definitely No Lightweight
"'Lightweight' is not an expression anyone would use to describe Tom Daschle. At 56, Daschle has been the Senate Democratic leader for 10 years, two years longer than Lyndon Johnson, whose portrait hangs in Daschle's elegant Capitol suite, at the minority leader's request. Unlike the bullying Johnson, Daschle is gentle and soft-spoken.[Senate Majority Leader Bill] Frist was besieged with questions about why he had violated Senate protocol by campaigning against Daschle on his home turf. The Democratic leader wound up looking like a victim; the Republicans, like bullies." - Sheryl Gay Stolberg in an August 1 Times Sunday Magazine profile of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.

"Successful" Democratic Convention? Says Who?
"News of the terror threat on Sunday also stirred renewed suggestions from some Democrats that the White House was manipulating terror alerts for Mr. Bush's political gain. They said the alert had been issued just as Mr. Kerry emerged from a convention that was described by Republicans and Democrats as a success." - Adam Nagourney and David Halbfinger, August 2.

Economic "Setback" for Bush = Good Front-Page News for Kerry
"The slowdown was a setback to efforts by President Bush to point to solid growth as a validation of his administration's economic policies, and played into the hands of his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry, who has criticized the White House's economic approach." - Economics reporter Eduardo Porter in a front-page story, July 31.

A few hours later, Qingming, 18 years old, stepped in front of an approaching locomotive. The train, like China's roaring economy, was an express." - Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley in an August 1 story on a young Chinese man's suicide and "the money-centered, cutthroat society that has replaced socialist China."