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Ashcroft Fumbles

NBC is reporting that some of the key pieces of intel that lead to last weeks terrorist threat warning were bungled.

WASHINGTON - Earlier this week Attorney General John Ashcroft warned of an attack planned on America for sometime in the coming months. That may happen, but NBC News has learned one of Ashcroftís sources is highly suspect.

[...] terrorism experts tell NBC News there's no evidence a credible al-Qaida spokesman ever said that, and the claims actually were made by a largely discredited group, Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, known for putting propaganda on the Internet.

"This particular group is not really taken seriously by Western intelligence," said terrorism expert M.J. Gohel of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, an international policy assessment group. "It does not appear to have any real field operational capability. But it is certainly part of the global jihad movement - part of its propaganda wing, if you like. It likes to weave a web of lies; it likes to put out disinformation so that the truth is deeply buried. So it is a dangerous group in that sense, but it is not taken seriously in terms of its operational capability."

The group has claimed responsibility for the power blackout in the Northeast last year, a power outage in London and the Madrid bombing. None of the claims was found to be credible.

Which would explain why the press conference was a surprise to the Homeland Security folks.

Assuming the Bush is re-elected; Ashcroft is one cabinet member I wouldn't mind seeing "pursue other interests."

Comments (10)

Oh shit....I connected up w... (Below threshold)
Nick Lauren:

Oh shit....I connected up with one of those total moron liberal websites. You know, the kind of website created and frequented by people who typically don't think for themselves and instead thrive on propaganda created by the elite few who enjoy the worship, blow jobs and anal sex they get from their little flock of sheep.


Buh-bye, Nick. Come back wh... (Below threshold)

Buh-bye, Nick. Come back when your reading comprehension improves.

But ask yourself this. In t... (Below threshold)

But ask yourself this. In the current political climate if there were to be an attack and in the subsequent congressional witch hunt it came out that they had this tip from this group that they didn't take seriously, what would be the result?

Stephen, that would only be... (Below threshold)

Stephen, that would only be a problem if Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades were actually the ones who performed that attack. All they've managed to do so far is claim credit for the acts of others.

I'm not a huge fan of Ashcr... (Below threshold)

I'm not a huge fan of Ashcroft and company's Patriot Act, but in the wake of the investigation/witch hunt attempting to lay blame on the Bush administration for the September 11th attack, one has a hard time faulting Ashcroft (or any other cabinet officer) for erring on the side of caution. I think Boyd's argument stems from a false assumption--that the Bush-haters on Capitol Hill would actually bring common sense, logic, and reasoning into any ensuing investigation.

They claimed credit for the... (Below threshold)

They claimed credit for the Northeast power outage, that should tip you off that they're all talk and no action.

There may be other more substantial intel behind this, but the enemy is smart - they spread disinformation. Separating the wheat from the chaff is one of the main jobs our government has to do in regards to domestic terrorism. It is possible that, in this case, they didn't completely succeed.

This is a sticky one. I sh... (Below threshold)

This is a sticky one. I share the same concerns as Bo about erroding personal liberties under Ashcroft, but I can not fault him for alerting the nation to this potential threat. I think it was pretty telling that they did not raise the alert level. He was and WE are in a no win situation. I think at this point, every potential threat has to be taken seriously.
Despite my disagreements with the current administration, I tend to think that they do need to err on the side of caution. One thing I am concerned about now is with the media making a big deal over the source of this lead, WILL Ascroft and Company be more hessitant to report information like this in the future, and will the enemy take advantage of this???
Very scary situation.
I very rarely pass on an opportunity to "legitimately," challenge Mr. Ashcroft. I have not done so in this case, and wont, becuase I believe fairness dictates he be given the benefit of the doubt.

Thanks for the intellectual... (Below threshold)

Thanks for the intellectual honesty, David. It gets in short supply sometimes.

And unless I'm mistaken, Ashcroft didn't raise the alert level because that's controlled by the Department of Homeland Security. Since Secretary Ridge gave an interview earlier the same day saying, essentially, that there's nothing on the horizon, it makes you wonder why Ashcroft is in the business of talking about threats in the first place.

Boyd:I agree. My fee... (Below threshold)

I agree. My feeling is that Ridge ought to be making any announcement related to the security of the Homeland. Sometimes the whole thing takes on a sureal quality to me, becuase even though I am American, I live in Costa Rica, not on any terrorist map, I dont think. And yet, I am as preocupied as most Americans when it comes to the whole terrorist threat. I was actually here in Costa Rica on 9/11. That morning the power went out in my hotel. I got a call right before the second plane hit the towers, from a Costa Rican friend, who was screaming in the Phone, "They are bombing the United States." It was two hours before the hotel got power back and I could see for myself what was happening. It left an incredible mark on my psyche, and I felt an incredible anger mixed with a sense of helplessness. At the time my kids were in the U.S., in San Jose, California, and I was worried that whoever was attacking the States would also target the Bay Area. Of course it never happened, but shortly I will never forget my angst.
Like I said, Ashcroft gets a pass from me on this one, for sure. BTW, thanks for the civility of your comments in the other discussion we were having. I like your Blog too. While we may find many things to disagree on, we can do so with mutual respect. I added you to my Blogroll.

As much as I like them, I t... (Below threshold)

As much as I like them, I too beleive that Ashcroft and even Rumsfield may hurt Bush's re-election chances. Those guys are just lightening rods of controversy.






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