How to Con the Public

I haven’t gone out to get the NY Times yet this morning, but this one I want to read for myself. It’s to Mayor Bloomberg’s credit that he pointed out in his news conference on Sunday that he didn’t know how old the information was on which the latest terrorist alert is based. Maybe he really didn’t know yet, but now he does. The fact that we have this information does seem to be new. The fact that the information itself is three and four years old and predates the attack on the WTC is what we should have been told and, of course, weren’t told. I’ve probably been as angry as I am this morning, but not often.

Yeah, it’s shocking to learn how complete the information gathered by the terrorists really was, but the odds are very high that the information was important to the terrorists while making the choice of targets for 9/11 2001 and we don’t really need to have traffic jams that are 4 and 5 miles long or police in battle gear carrying assult rifles at this moment. Yeah, it’s not a bad idea to generally increase security for financially important buildings, and not just the ones mentioned in the information on that captured hard disk in Pakistan. And yeah, now that a little bit more of the truth is coming out, it couldn’t be more obvious that the administration is cynically issuing terrorist alerts whenever this gives them some political advantage.

Sadly, even the “security precautions” are being applied cynically. Those who live behind the Citicorp headquarters are trying to point out that there’s now plenty of security in front of the building, barricades, police presence, etc. along Lexington Ave. which is well traveled, and NOTHING, no extra security, behind the building, which is equally vulnerable. So — that’s pure theater. On the other hand, the Mayor is taking advantage of the situation to provide extra security for areas that really need it regardless, like Grand Central Station.

Nobody’s considering the psychological cost of fake terrorist alerts on the citizens of NYC. How about the effect on the schoolchildren who live near the WTC site and were so badly affected on 9/11? What do their parents tell them now? Not to mention the adults still suffering from PTSD. Or the workers trudging bravely off to work in the supposedly threatened buildings. How sweet of Laura Bush and her twins to show up for coffee with them! As though this were somehow a brave and noble sacrifice? I wonder if she brought cookies?