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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Another terror attack?

Yahoo News has an AP story today entitled, "U.S. Bracing for Terror Before Election."

Condi Rice is quoted this morning saying that the Bush administration thinks there's a good chance of a terror attack before the election later this year:
The opportunity for terrorists to try to influence the election, as was the case last month in Spain, appears to be an opportunity that would "be too good to pass up for them," Rice said.

"I think that we do have to take very seriously the thought that the terrorists might have learned, we hope, the wrong lesson from Spain," Rice told "Fox News Sunday."

"I think we also have to take seriously that they might try during the cycle leading up to the election to do something," she said.
That would be some October surprise.

Perhaps this admission will invigorate the debate about anti-terrorism. What should the US be doing? Perhaps more attention to port security? Shoulder-fired missiles? Emergency response?

Iraq has been a significant and unfortunate distraction for a very long time now. Its future is now vitally important, of course, but the events there really don't have that much to do with al Qaeda, which has got to the be most likely group to strike the US.

The administration has taken the view from the very beginning of the "war on terror" that states are the appropriate central targets of US actions. Thus, the Bush administration dispatched troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.

But 1000s of terrorists may be dispersed across the world, receiving almost no support from any state. Finding them and preventing their deadly acts requires improved intelligence, law enforcement, government regulatory authority (banking laws) and interstate cooperation (on law enforcement, intelligence and even banking).

Of course, if the administration wants to talk about states between now and November, I nominate the discussion begin with a healthy critique of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

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