Following the paper trail

With Memorial Day weekend upon us the images of Sept. 11 and the men and women fighting to preserve what Osama bin Laden attempted to destroy will be on everyone’s minds. And then the inevitable: more warnings, more threats, and more information that New York City could once again come under siege.

Maybe it’s me, but the threats and various states of alert are getting a little out of hand. I would think that if Sept. 11 taught us anything it was that we should never let our guard down. Vice President Dick Cheney and numerous other government officials have stated, time and again, that suicide and future attacks on U.S. soil are inevitable. So why the heightened diligence?

I do not believe anyone should live in fear, but law enforcement professionals and other government agencies who have sworn to protect the U.S. should be ready at all times. That is their job.

Adding fuel to the fire is the new information about a memo from an FBI agent in Phoenix relating to Sept. 11. Did Bush know before Sept. 11 that the World Trade Center would come crashing down? Of course not. I am not a big fan of Bush or his presidency, but to imply that the president had some knowledge of what would happen is the worst example of partisan politicking I have ever seen.

Most post-Sept. 11 threats have turned out to be hoaxes, and thankfully, nothing even close to the magnitude of that day has been reached again. (Knock on wood.) Which begs the question, what is a credible threat? The rantings of detainees, while they should not be dismissed, must be taken with a whole bag of salt. Wouldn’t it be the terrorists’ best day when they can make us jump at our shadows?

The memo is making national and international news and could well mean Bush’s undoing in 2004. It was composed after the agent conducted interviews with various Middle Eastern students at flight schools. These students expressed “extreme animosity” for the United States. Isn’t that kind of a given? The FBI, government and various other agencies have fallen under attack, mostly from Democrats, that the information contained in the five-page memo could have helped prevent Sept. 11. However, the president was not even briefed on the information until a few days following the attacks.

The bigger issue is a breakdown in communication. How could a memo, with supposedly such valuable information about the security of the country, not reach the proper authorities in time? The men and women of the FBI are highly trained experts in their respective fields. It is their job to investigate and report to the proper authorities, and I would like to think anything they had to say regarding national security would be listened to with open minds and open ears.

Warnings do allow us to be more aware of what is happening and what could happen. However, warnings only work when they can instill a sense of urgency in Americans. To issue one every day is a little like Peter crying wolf. Yell too many times, and urgency will lead to complacency, which is exactly where we don’t want to be.

Megan Sullivan is the Oracle’s opinion