A few minutes ago, I was listening to a local newscast on the radio, and a woman named Angie who works at an area financial institution was being interviewed on the latest terrorism warnings. Mind you, she doesn't live or work anywhere near the supposed targets. Still, "I won't allow terrorists to cause me to live in fear," was her reaction.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard that same declaration of false bravado over the past three years. Post-9/11 conventional wisdom holds that the primary strategy of terrorism is to cause fear. I previously discussed the "fear factor" in America, and brought statistics to the table which clearly indicated the chances of hitting a royal flush at a Vegas poker table are far better than being killed by a terrorist. Yet we continue to do a national cringe every time the Osama bogeyman is trotted out by the Bush administration. And the media continues to push the meme.
To some extent, it's true that the strategy of terrorism is to affect change more through inducing a fear of terrorism rather than the actual acts of terror that inspire the fear. Angie, in responding to the radio interview as she did, is missing the point.
In Tuesday morning hindsight, it's clear that the major terror production by the Bush administration this past weekend was just that - a "production". And you know what the first tipoff was? Yesterday's performance in the financial markets. Riding home from work yesterday evening, I heard "Wall Street shrugged off the warnings and posted a good day..."
Bullshit. Wall Street flat out ignored the warning. Traders (or at least their financial institution masters) knew the real deal.
It turns out the information on which the threat was based actually predated the events of September 11, 2001. Over three years old. That's a lifetime in the terrorism business, Tom Ridge's protestations to the contrary. And I can assure you that if the source of the information is ever truly revealed, odds are that we'll find that the information source was about as reliable as Ahmed Chalabi.
So, it's not the terrorists trying to cause folks like Angie to live in fear. The perpetrator of the fear is our own government. The Bush administration trades in fear. But it looks like this one has backfired on them. Even the BBC spent a half hour this morning on NPR dissecting the speciousness of what is now being acknowledged as a painfully obvious political exercise.
Ross K. commented in Doc's prior posting suggesting that, rather than a raw political exercise, maybe the weekend alert was a test run of another political strategy - burying the previous week's bad news. I noted myself in commenting on that post that CNN and Fox were doing "special extended reports" on the topic all Sunday afternoon. The faux alert forced the Democratic Convention poste mortem off the news shows.
At this juncture, it's reasonable to conclude that the weekend alert was a transparent political ploy, for whatever the reason. This time, though, the media appears to have finally caught on to the scam. Still, they've been played again.
Now we need folks like Angie to catch on - it's not only the terrorists who'd like you to live in a perpetual state of fear, ma'am. It's your own government.
The distinction between the two groups grows increasingly blurred.