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  • Machinations and Hidden Schemes

    Posted by James R. Rummel on August 2nd, 2004 (All posts by )

    So there I was, walking along on campus. I had just gotten out of class and the prof was heading in the same direction. So we talked.

    “I don’t know about all of these terror alerts. We keep having them, one after another, and nothing ever happens. Makes me wonder if they’re real or not.”

    I pointed out that the police are a political entity. All law enforcement is. If they get wind of a credible threat they’re going to issue an alert. That way their hinders are covered if they don’t manage to stop the bad guys in time.

    “Oh, so you’re saying that the poilice are a political organization!”

    Uh, yeah. Just said that.

    “So they’re doing this to help Bush’s chances in the coming election!”

    This gobsmacked me. I even stopped walking for a few steps. No one had ever suggested to me that the White House was cannily using terror alerts to manipulate the public.

    So I tried to explain that this was nothing more than what the police do during every high-profile case. The media starts making noise about a rapist and they do the same thing. CYA, the first impulse of any political organization.

    “But it’s possible, right? The President could be using terror alerts to distract the public and manipulate opinion?”

    Well, yeah, sure. It’s possible! But the police follow this same pattern every single time they’re in the media spotlight.

    “When Kerry wins we should see less of these terror alerts.”

    Okay, whatever.

    This might seem obvious to someone who’s actually worked in law enforcement, but it seems to be less than clear to those who have never had to deal with the profession. Case in point.

    I expect to see a lot more of this in the next few weeks. What do you want to bet that the Lefty bloggers take this and run it into the ground?

    But, then again, it doesn’t look like any of those bloggers ever caught a bad guy.

     

    16 Responses to “Machinations and Hidden Schemes”

    1. Lex Says:

      Typical university professor. They live in a cocoon of lefty claptrap. You have to struggle to stay sane in that environment. Most don’t even try.

    2. Andy Dolberg Says:

      The US has been through 200+ years of war and has had many years of terrorism in the past. What does a terror alert do? Remind citizenry/police to be on a “higher” alert? My alert is always high because I want to live if violence occurs around/to me. We should always be vigilant. The more terror related garbage I see on the news supported by the white house turns me away from them. I don’t want to know if its red or orange or pink on whatever given day, what am I to do about it except carry my CCW? Pretty much nothing. It’s like when I go to the chow hall and they tell me the menu for the next couple days. I dont care, I don’t have any other options, are citizens going to leave the US because of an alert? I think its all a bunch of ass-checking so when s— goes down again whatever commission won’t blame the “alerting” agency afterward…

    3. Barry Says:

      I came across this tonight and thought it was an interesting aside to James Rummel’s entry.

      Terror Threat: Questions To Be Asked & Answered
      “A terror threat is much more sobering to those who live in New York and Washington, which includes much of the nation’s political and news media ranks,” the New York Times notes today. Questions that deserve to be asked and answered:

      > To what extent does this impact the media’s reporting about it?

      > In what specific ways does it affect the media’s reporting?

      > Does this thought extend to different shows on the same network? For example, would a CNN show based in Atlanta handle the story differently than a New York-based show?

      > Are viewers/consumers affected positively or negatively because of this?

      The website asks for any thoughts. You can follow up by visiting the site: tvnewser

      Also, isn’t it a professor’s job, a teacher’s job, to rattle a student’s mind and get them to think outside the box, or as James Rummel said, ” No one had ever suggested to me that the Whitehouse was cannily using terror alerts (not elerts) to manipulate the public.” Now as far as the statement that Kerry’s election would decrease the number of threats broadcasted, that is hogwash. No one knows that.

    4. James R. Rummel Says:

      “Also, isn’t it a professor’s job, a teacher’s job, to rattle a student’s mind and get them to think outside the box….”

      I was always under the impression that one of the prime requirements for getting a student to think is to avoid spouting nonsense. I would probably have had the same reaction of my prof had said that he liked ice cream because it doesn’t have bones.

      ” No one had ever suggested to me that the Whitehouse was cannily using terror alerts (not elerts) to manipulate the public.”

      I’ve corrected the typo. Happy yet, Barry?

      James

    5. M. Simon Says:

      I like ice cream because it doesn’t have feathers.

      Bones seem like a good idea. Yum. Crunchy.

      The Prof still is highly improbable. Wouldn’t some one in government notice and blow the whistle?

    6. Jim Miller Says:

      Souds like the professor was listening to Howard Dean. (To his credit, Kerry said he didn’t agree with Dean.)

      It may be unfair, but the incident reminds me of Moynihan’s line. He said he personally knew some PhDs whose incompetence was beyond question.

    7. Barry Says:

      Here’s a story from the BBC that also follows up a similar qustion: How much does the public need to know about terror alerts and are they politically motivated. Terror Warnings: How much to revealJames, sometimes there can be a grain of truth in spoken nonesense. Reading Lewis Carrolls’, Alice in Wonderland convinced me of that. Please excuse the spell check; an older sister was an English major who constantly corrected our misspellings. It is a knee-jerk reaction on my part.

    8. Andrew X Says:

      I’m encountering this idiocy myself. There are seemingly a hundred ways to describe the exact same division in America…. Red/Blue, Conservative/Liberal, Talkers/Doers…. and this one – Half the country is serious about this conflict, half are not. It is that simple. Academics stopped being serious people long ago.

      But here’s a nice shutter upper, try it.

      “A survivor of the death camps of the forties was asked, ‘What can we all, what have you, learned from such an awful experience?’ The man looked his questioner dead in the eye (and you now look at your idiotarian the same way) and replied ‘When a man tells you he intends to KILL you…. believe him.’

      Here endeth the lesson.

      (“But… but…. what about John Ashcroft…..??? Yap yap yap)

      { Sigh. }

    9. Angie Schultz Says:

      “Oh, so you’re saying that the poilice are a political organization!”

      If you’d said that to me, I would’ve concluded that you meant just what the prof thought you meant: that the police were in cahoots with the current administration. Unlike him, though, I would have thought you were full of crap.

      (I also wouldn’t have leaped to the conclusion that the police were on Bush’s side; I would’ve thought they were on the current administration’s side, whoever they happened to be.)

      I think you confused him by your non-canonical use of “political”.

      While I’m here, I’ll point out that there’s no way to keep terror alerts secret. When these things started, the newspapers often mentioned that the alerts went out to every law enforcement agency in the country, of which there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands. That includes everything from the FBI to state Fish and Game commissions to Andy and Barney in Mayberry. The government could try to quietly issue the alerts, but then it would leak out via these hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers and their secretaries and janitors and families, and then it would look like the government was trying to cover it up. Better to have it all out there in the open in the first place.

    10. Andy Dolberg Says:

      In reply to your post Angie, why even send the alerts to the local police stations? If anyone has ever had experiance behind the sences or “with” police, you’d realize that they are pretty good guys, but they have very little education on average, and basically hang out with poor trashy people all day. Sophisticated plots and conspiracies don’t even register on thier radar, and thier really isn’t any need for them too because 99.999% of thier carrers they won’t deal with higher level crime. Isn’t the FBI big enough to handel this??

      I just see terrosism as such a random and small chance of death, that there really isn’t a point to spend so many hours a day SPECULATING on what COULD happen. Why don’t we talk about vehicle saftey?? You are thousands of times more likey to die that way…

    11. Barry Says:

      Angie, such terror alerts are not sent out to the local agencies that are not directly involved, Fish and Game etc. They are issued via the Department of Homeland Security via a prime time press conference and on the HS web site.

      A police chief from a nearby town was asked how he learned about the latest terrorists threats. “On television,” said Eatonville Police Chief Dan Vereen

      Or you can plunk down a couple of dollars and get streaming audio or text messaging of the latest terror threats. I kid you not. Check out this site AlertsUSAAs one commentor stated, it is CYA because the old adage, better safe than sorry, is definitely the course to follow. I don’t envy these people. No wonder Ridge wants to get out.

    12. freddie poo Says:

      All these comments and the full defense of the non-political alerts would be more to the point had not the NY Times this morning revealed that the info the alerts based on are some 4 years old. What to do now? Claim that tzerror guys wait and plan over a lopng period. And that we know it is this week, after all that time, that they intend to strike! As Kant once said: bullshit

    13. Jonathan Says:

      Freddie, you are wise. What do you suggest as an alternative?

    14. Scotus Says:

      freddi poo, the LA TIMES, not lately known as a Republican rag, completely contradicted the NEW YORK TIMES, indicating that there is new intelligence supporting the alert. Also, American officials just became aware of this information. So, even if the files on the computer had not been updated for years, since al Qaeda is an organization known to take a very long time to execute its plans, e.g. the east Africa emabasies were cased FIVE YEARS before they were attacked, no matter how old the data is, I think it’s only prudent to take it very seriously. Finally, freddie, you are the one who needs the the spell check (and maybe a strong pot of coffee).

      P.S.: As an old philosophy major, I can tell you it was Nietzsche, not Kant, who once said “Bullshit!”

    15. Angie Schultz Says:

      Angie, such terror alerts are not sent out to the local agencies that are not directly involved, Fish and Game etc.

      If you say so. As I said, when they started this color-coded business I read in the papers that alerts were sent to all US law enforcement agencies, which numbered in the thousands (I’m pretty sure this was a number between ten and twenty thousand). I thought this must include small local offices. (Then again, I read this in the Australian press, which is not overly famous for accuracy. One letter writer stated that we surely know that Amerikkka is a fascist state, because why else would they have all those cops?)

      I’m a little taken aback by Andy Dolberg’s suggestion that local police, because they “have very little education” and “hang out with poor trashy people”, are of no use in looking out for terrorists. Andy and Barney don’t have to set up electronic surveillance, all they have to do is notice that those strange Mexican fellers (who don’t seem to speak Spanish) are buyin’ all that diesel fuel and fertilizer. They say they’re farmers, but they ain’t got no farm!

      And for that, they might need to know a little about what’s going on.

    16. Barry Says:

      Angie (and James) The Independent has an interesting article that evaluates what is being discussed within James’s entry. Regardless of the political leanings of the professor, his comment is timely, as examplified by this article

      An imbroglio of disarray and confusion that offers an insight into the politics of security

      I also found the comments regarding police officers smartsor lack of, rather peculiar.