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Better to err on side of caution when it comes to terrorism

Posted: Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The Bush administration says credible new information indicates terror attacks by al-Qaida in the United States are likely in the coming months.

With high-profile events coming up such as an international summit meeting in Georgia, the July 4 celebrations and two political conventions, there is ample reason for caution.

The nation's top law enforcement officials urged the public and police to look out for six men and one woman who are believed to be linked with al-Qaida and who could be part of any planned attacks.

Yet, some opponents of President Bush are quick to question both the nature of the threat and its timing.

The New York Times reports that union leaders aligned with a Democratic presidential hopeful are saying the al-Qaida alert appeared to be a political convenience for a president facing sagging approval ratings and continued resistance in Iraq.

After all, critics said, the government said it did not have any information on where the terrorists might hit and the terrorist threat advisory has not been elevated from its current status.

One unnamed administration official is quoted as saying a lot of the information referred to about the al-Qaida strike threat "has been out there already."

Before and throughout the recent hearings of the commission studying homeland security, opponents blasted Bush for not doing enough even though he had been president for all of eight months and that weaknesses in the nation's homeland security had accumulated for decades.

Now the administration is taking hits for trying to raise awareness about potential attacks based on the best information available in effect doing too much.

Granted, all but one of the seven people named as being sought had been listed publicly in some fashion before. But most people would likely agree that finding them becomes even more crucial when intelligence indicates the threat of an attack is intensifying.

Better to err on the side of caution and let critics fire their political darts as they will because they apparently will no matter what happens.

The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville

May 29



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