Late Night Rambling

What to make of this?

Terrorists updated their plans this year to attack financial institutions, prompting the federal government to raise the threat level, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said yesterday.

“This is actionable information,” Mr. Ridge said during a press conference in New York with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Gov. George E. Pataki, both Republicans.


Sure, the information (or at least most of it) is a couple years old. Then again, 9/11-type attacks don’t come together overnight; they take years to conceive, plan, recruit, train, and execute. If we had known, even in August of 2001, what had been brewing in Afghanistan since 1998. . . on second thought, let’s not pursue that train of thought. It’s just too damn painful.

If the intel is good, maybe we’ll prevent an awful attack. Or maybe not. Sometimes even “actionable” intelligence fails to lead to the right actions to prevent the attack. It’s the nature of bureaucratic inertia. It’s the nature of war. It’s the nature of playing defense, of those times when the bad guys have the initiative.

And when it comes to terror attacks, the bad guys always have the initiative.

If the intel is bad, maybe we’ll have scared people for no good reason. Or maybe not. Sometimes being scared is a good thing all by itself. A little fear can keep us aware, like the passengers on the shoe-bomber’s flight. If 9/11 taught us anything, it’s that there just might be good reason for a little fear, even if there isn’t.


I don’t find it remarkable that Howard Dean claims the new Threat Alert is “political.” What I do find remarkable is, we’re still in the opening phases of a global war, and most of our politics still centers on the economy.

Think about that.

Three years ago, foreigners carved a hole in the heart of New York City. They caused about a trillion dollars in damages


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