Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Terrorism Alert Fatigue

A panel hosted by the Center for American Progress has some good advice for the next administration on the subject of terrorism alerts and warnings (Security experts call for improved public communications). Here's the key quote:

The next president must develop a more effective and disciplined way of communicating to the public about what kind of threats the country faces and what individuals and families can do to be prepared for disasters, a panel of homeland security experts said Friday ... The next president, regardless of which party wins, will be able to chart a new course for communicating with the public, according to experts at a panel discussion hosted by the Center for American Progress. "I think that, by and large, the president needs to reassure the public that they are not going to see a repeat of what went on for the last eight years," said Jerome Hauer, chief executive officer of the Hauer Group and former HHS assistant secretary. "The public is fatigued," he added. "They are tired of the sky-is-falling mind-set." He said the next president needs to ensure that public warnings are based on solid information and that the federal government sends out messages out of an urgent need, not because it wants to distract the public.

It's a coincidence of timing, but the panel could have been talking about the warning (or "analytical note") that the FBI and DHS sent to law enforcement this week and which was leaked to NBC News.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security today issued an analytical "note" to U.S. law-enforcement officials cautioning that al-Qaida terrorists have in the past expressed interest in attacking public buildings using a dozen suicide bombers each carrying 20 kilograms of explosives.

Authors with the U.S. Office of Intelligence and Analysis added that they have "no credible or specific information that terrorists are planning operations against public buildings in the United States." The FBI and DHS analysts said they were releasing the note because "it is important for local authorities and building owners and operators to be aware of potential attack tactics."

Once again, the sky is not falling. There is no impending attack to warn about, and no feasible steps law enforcement agencies, or building owners, could take to prevent the scenario the FBI and DHS want them to be aware of. So why send this warning out? Where's the urgent need?

And sending it during October in an election year is simply begging for cynical political interpretations.

1 comment:

davod said...

That's why it was a warning to law enforcement and not the f....g public.

Of course one of then reasons for this is all the idiots out there who are convinced that the Bush administration should have stopped the the events of 9/11 based upon a vague statement that Al Qaeda might wahnt to take over aeroplanes.