If Something Happens
I’m beginning to wonder if I should get a bit concerned for my personal safety.
There has been a small-but-steady drumbeat of hints over the last few weeks that we should expect a new "spectacular" attack on the United States from al Qaeda and/or related groups this month, and that its target will be a city in the Eastern U.S., likely Washington. Where I, um, live.
- Roll Call: "Capitol Police officials have stepped up the department’s security presence on Capitol Hill in response to intelligence indicating the increased possibility of an al-Qaida terrorist attack on Congress sometime between now and Sept. 11."
- Senator Trent Lott:
Without mentioning a specific threat to the Capitol, Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) ominously advised Thursday that Congress needed to pass changes to terrorist surveillance laws before leaving for the August recess and warned that otherwise “the disaster could be on our doorstep.”
When asked if people should leave Washington, D.C., during the month of August, Lott responded, “I think it would be good to leave town in August, and it would probably be good to stay out until September the 12th.”
- Susie Madrak: "I have to say, I’ve been hearing rumors from places I ordinarily don’t. Lots of talk about a nuclear bomb targeting an East Coast city, etc."
Now, much of this talk has been driven by the debate in Congress over whether or not to allow the President’s illegal domestic wiretapping program to go continue for six months — a renewal that was necessary after the Supreme Court struck the program down. The Democratic Congress gave the President the authority to continue last week, to howls of outrage from around the progressive blogosphere.
But it’s not like al Qaeda isn’t a threat. The National Intelligence Estimate released last month indicates that the group has grown back to its pre-9/11 strength, thanks to its finding a safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas and the influx of recruits and money the Iraq War has brought to it.
So it’s an open question whether there is a real, concrete threat here that the Dems responded to, or whether it’s just a boogeyman conjured up by the GOP to spook the Congress into letting the wiretapping continue. If it’s the latter, that’s beyond reprehensible. But if it’s the former…? I guess we’ll only know for sure on September 12 (if then).
I’m not counseling fear — indeed, I believe that fear is our worst enemy in the fight against terrorism. Fear makes us do stupid things and amplifies the power of the terrorists manyfold.
But I do counsel prudence, and I’ve been hearing this chatter consistently enough from enough sources to make me wonder if there’s a kernel of truth anywhere in it.
So, in the name of prudence, let me make a request.
I don’t think it’s likely that anything is going to happen. But if something does happen here in Washington this month, and it’s of any serious scale, it will probably kill me. I ride the Metro twice a day and work a few blocks from the White House; I’m under no illusions about how easy it would be for me to become collateral damage.
If something happens, please do not let my name be used to justify stupid and counterproductive foreign policy decisions, the way the victims of 9/11 had their names prostituted to justify the invasion of Iraq – an invasion that did nothing to bring their killers to justice, and which, in the long run, actually reduced our safety here at home.
If something happens, make me this promise: that you won’t let my memory be hijacked to put less worth on the lives of innocent people than on the simple-minded plans of arrogant politicians.
If something happens.