Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Chertoff gets grief over "gut remarks"

Before we condemn this man, whom I do not trust any further than I can throw him, we might want to consider that even bad people can sometimes try to do good.

Is he trying to warn us of a black ops attack; another false flag op?

There are some people who are awfully desperate, and we aren't taking about the very dead Osama.

U.S. security czar under fire for 'gut feeling' comment

Sheldon Alberts, CanWest News Service

Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Americans have spent almost six years now trying to figure out the Bush administration's colour-coded terrorist threat system.

Now they have another terror warning to puzzle over -- Michael Chertoff's "gut feeling."

The U.S. secretary for homeland security came under sharp criticism Wednesday after saying he had a hunch America would be the target of a major al-Qaeda attack this summer.

Remarks to the Chicago Tribune's editorial board, Chertoff said his assessment was based on past summertime terror plots, increased al-Qaeda training activities in south Asia, and a recent spike in public statements by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's second-in-command.

"All of these things have given me a gut feeling that we are in a period of vulnerability," Chertoff said. "Not that I have a specific threat that I have right now but ... I want to be somewhat more vigilant."

President George W. Bush quickly distanced himself from Chertoff's remarks, with spokesman Tony Fratto saying "there continues to be no credible, specific intelligence to suggest that there is an imminent threat to the homeland."

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the U.S. government has concluded al-Qaeda has rebuilt its operating strength to levels similar to those in 2001. Citing a new confidential threat assessment, the news service said the terrorist organization had regained capabilities despite American efforts to cripple it.

Counter-terrorism experts were baffled that Chertoff would be so flippant and unspecific with remarks about terrorist threats, in the wake of last month's botched bombing attacks in London.

Bruce Hoffman, a professor in security studies at Washington's Georgetown University, called Chertoff's remarks highly irresponsible because they provide Americans with no context to evaluate the seriousness of the threat.

"One would hope that six years after 9/11 -- and the creation of a new agency devoted to homeland security -- that the department's secretary would be able to provide something more empirical than just a gut feeling there may be an attack," Hoffman said. "We should be beyond gut feelings, and be capable of getting actual hard intelligence, if it exists."

Chertoff's comment "introduces more uncertainty than sound judgment and analysis" because it gives no information to local police forces or first responders about specific protective measures that should be taken, Hoffman added.

Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House of Representatives homeland security committee, asked Chertoff to "clarify" his remarks and convene a classified meeting with congressional leaders to review intelligence.

"What colour code in the Homeland Security Advisory System is associated with a gut feeling?'" Thompson wrote in a letter to Chertoff. "What sectors should be on alert as a result of your gut feeling?' What cities should be asking their law enforcement to work double shifts because of your gut feeling?' Are the American people supposed to purchase duct tape and plastic sheeting because of your gut feeling?'"

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. implemented a five-level colour-coded terror threat system, with green indicating the lowest risk and red representing a severe risk of attack. The government has not changed the nation's threat level - currently ranked as elevated, or yellow -- in the wake of Chertoff's comments. The threat also remains high, or orange, for domestic and international flights.

Experts are also puzzled by Chertoff's comment that "summertime seems to be appealing" for al-Qaeda plotters.

While the 9/11 attacks occurred in late summer and the London subway bombings in July, 2005, Hoffman said there is ample evidence that the threat from al-Qaida is a year-round phenomenon. He cited as evidence the Madrid bombings in March, 2004, and the Bali bombing in October, 2002.

"In my view, the way we have to be thinking is that this is a threat 12 months out of the year, not just the summer holidays," Hoffman said.

In the same remarks, Chertoff also rekindled American concerns about terrorists sneaking into the U.S. across the border from Canada. Echoing similar remarks he has made in the past, Chertoff said Bush administration plans to require passports or another secure travel document at the Canada-U.S. land border are vital to preventing the threat.

"All this seems reasonable, but all I have heard in the last six months are complaints about this," Chertoff said. "I have heard complaints about people from the northern border who say it is going to make it less convenient and that it is going to affect our business.

"I say, Well, what do think is going to happen to your business when a guy comes across the border with a phony document and blows up a target in Buffalo or in Detroit?'"

He added: "Do you think the American public is going to then allow the border to remain open or are they going to suddenly clamp down?"

Despite his concerns about security at the northern border, Chertoff's department was recently forced to push back the implementation of the passport requirement at least until mid-2008 because the State Department has been unable to meet the U.S. demand for passports.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

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