Chertoff’s Gut Says Summer Terrorist Attack
Our chief of Homeland Security says his gut tells him that al Qaeda is planning something for this summer.
Fearing complacency among the American people over possible terror threats, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in Chicago Tuesday that the nation faces a heightened chance of an attack this summer. “I believe we are entering a period this summer of increased risk,” Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune‘s editorial board in an unusually blunt and frank assessment of America’s terror threat level.
“Summertime seems to be appealing to them,” he said of al-Qaeda. “We do worry that they are rebuilding their activities.”
Still, Chertoff said there are not enough indications of an imminent plot to raise the current threat levels nationwide. And he indicated that his remarks were based on “a gut feeling” formed by past seasonal patterns of terrorist attacks, recent al-Qaeda statements, and intelligence he did not disclose. There is an assessment “not of a specific threat, but of increased vulnerability,” he added.
There’s not much to go on here. We’ve been hearing for years that it’s merely a matter of when, not if, there will be more terrorist attacks on American soil. That’s almost surely right.
Still, I agree with John Amato that going public based on “gut instinct” is irresponsible and rather pointless. Tom Ridge, the first DHS Secretary, routinely publicized reports of “chatter” and held regular press conferences to unveil the latest movements in the color-coded Terrorist Alert Level charts. Pretty soon, this became, quite literally, a joke. Chertoff has wisely discontinued that practice, so perhaps his going public now is an indication that this threat really is serious. On the other hand, it’s far from clear what the public is supposed to do about it.
- Feb. 26, 1993: World Trade Center, New York City.
June 25, 1996: Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Aug. 7, 1998: U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Oct. 12, 2000: USS Cole, Aden, Yemen.
Sept. 11, 2001: World Trade Center, Pentagon, and thwarted fourth plane.
April 11, 2002: Tunisian synagogue.
Oct. 12, 2002: Bali nightclubs.
Nov. 28, 2002: Israeli tourists in Mombasa, Kenya.
May 16, 2003: Casablanca, Morocco.
Nov. 15 & 20, 2003: Jewish synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey.
March 11, 2004: Madrid, Spain.
July 7, 2005: London, England.
July 23, 2005: Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
November 9, 2005: Amman, Jordan (American hotels).
April 10, 2007: Algiers bombings.
Throw in the recent possibly al-Qaeda “related” attacks in London and Scotland, too, if you like.
Do you see any seasonal pattern here? I sure don’t. Technically, the 9/11 attacks took place during the summer season, although most of us tend to think of the post-Labor Day period as the fall. Summer may be disproportionately represented but more of the attacks took place in the other three seasons.
Not to be too cheeky about something so potentially serious, but somehow this song comes to mind: