Thursday, October 14, 2004

Terrorism

An article in this morning's Washington Post reports on the closing of a Capitol Hill office by a Senator from Minnesota in response to an intelligence analysis report presented to senators.

This article really strikes a chord with me. I live in a close-in suburb of Washington, D.C. The threat level is adjusted now and then and occassionally we hear dire warnings of possible future terrorist activity, then we're told to go about our business being alert. If we shut down in fear, the terrorists win, right?

Mark Dayton sent his staff home and cautioned people not to visit D.C. in response to a series of briefings given to senators by the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, a joint FBI-CIA agency. The senators are beginning their preelection recess, so Dayton was headed out of town anyway; he defended his actions saying that its immoral to expose his staff to a risk he is not taking. If this is true, I think its admirable. Of course, where politics are involved, its so hard to be certain of motives, but that doesn't mean his motives aren't pure either.

What I find really interesting about this article are the various quotes within it from various sources. "This [terrorist scenario reported by the agency] is way over the top." If its over the top, why was it reported to the senators as a possibility? "Its not based on any credible information thats come in." Then why was it presented? The article says there is "[n]o new information to support the extreme scenario."

Who are the terrorists?

From the District's delegate to Congress, "[Dayton's] damaged us -- he's unnecessarily panicked people across the United States." Oh, I get it, clearly Dayton is the terrorist here. People may not want to visit the Nation's Capital because he reacted to a terror alert.

I have to say, I'm sort of glad that Dayton closed his office. Some might think its an overreaction (and I'm not saying its not), but it seems to be a logical conclusion to a scenario presented by a Federal agency that was described as "fire and brimstone raining down from the skies." I'm tired of the dire warnings then the assertion that we're all okay, just be alert. Which is it? If moving away from this area didn't involve leaving so much behind, I might consider it, but you can't run away from terror (though you might be a good deal safer from this particular threat in Minnesota).

What really has me thinking is a quote from a general laborer who has worked in the Capitol for more than 10 years. He said, "It's kind of scary to me that [Dayton] might know something others don't." My mind just flashed on that scene from the movie Titanic where the steerage passengers are gated off while the ship is sinking. They don't even get a chance to get on deck to try to get on a lifeboat.

2 comments:

Anne Zelenka said...

I wondered myself why Dayton received so much criticism for his decision. What exactly are we supposed to do with the terror alerts? And what does Congress know that we don't know?

Are you thinking of moving to Minnesota? I think I'll be safer from terrorism in Hawaii but will be within missile striking distance of North Korea and will certainly be more at risk from natural disasters. Guess the middle of the country might be the right place to go.

Larry said...

I think the senator over-reacted to an over-done alarm. In fact I think the administration is attempting to use these things to manipulate us. After all, terrorism is the best thing it has going for it; if we're sufficiently terrified, we're sure to vote for our 'leader'.