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The GOP Politics Of Fear

With John McCain trailing in every recent political poll, sometimes by as many as 12 to 15 points, and McCain gaining little traction on any important issue dealing with the economic mess or other important issues, about all the GOP can do is to ramp up an artificial terrorism fear campaign to distract voters from $4 gas or other issues that favor change in Washington.

It is only on the issue of national security in which John McCain and the Republican Party seem to hold some sway with voters. It is also very unfortunate that even the FBI, which should be an independent police agency, seems to be sometimes almost loaning some partisan support to this new GOP fear campaign, even if it comes inadvertently.

The FBI has issued a new bulletin to 18,000 law enforcement agencies claiming that Al Qaeda may be planning to use weapons of mass destruction against U.S. targets. And for some reason, federal officials leaked information to ABC News ahead of time claiming that Al Qaeda will release a new video on Friday encouraging radical Jihadists to use weapons of mass destruction such as chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to attack the West.

All of the absurdity of this should be quite apparent here. Al Qaeda is only a small organization worldwide, and it's main followers such as Osama Bin Laden are in hiding in caves or small villages, most likely in remote mountainous regions of Pakistan. Bin Laden lives under constant threat of death from remote controlled American drone Predator aircraft or other threats of death, and is hardly a free man by any means.

At some point, this international criminal will be captured or most likely killed. It's only a matter of time. Other than some small conventional explosives attacks in Iraq with car bombs, etc., Al Qaeda has never proven that it has the technology for a widescale WMD biological, chemical or nuclear attack. Never. It's merely bluster for Al Qaeda to even claim such weapons technology nonsense.

Even states such as North Korea have proven just how difficult it is for an awful country to develop nuclear weapons, and that's even with having a number of active nuclear reactors. In fact, it is highly likely that the single claimed North Korean nuclear underground test was faked by the awful government of dictator Kim Jong Il by using a large conventional explosion of TNT because of very small seismic readings and a lack of nuclear tell-tale signs by western spy satellites. For Al Qaeda with no known nuclear reactors, etc. to even claim to threaten the West with some sort of nuclear menace is just pure and complete nonsense.

Biological weapons also involve a high level of technology, and it is mainly only states such as the U.S. and Russia that have the technology to experiment in such evil devices. The small bands of extremists who support Al Qaeda have never proven any technological means to be able to develop such weapons. Yet federal officials will chime in and seek to heighten American public fears about such a hollow nonsense threat because John McCain is way down in the polls.

And perhaps the most absurd of the three threats is that of chemical weapons. Chemical weapons can actually be no more technologically advanced than simple pesticides. That's right, ant or roach sprays. In fact, many of the WMDs that Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein might have once had were just large 55 gallon metal drums of pesticides. Chemical weapons are so low tech and such a poor weapons that they are usually only fatal to a handful of persons standing within just a few feet of the ground zero where the pesticide is released into the area. That's hardly a fearful weapon. Even the more advanced mustard gas that Saddam had used to kill Kurdish villagers is simply a low budget WWI type weapon that is bulky and very difficult to deliver in lethal doses. It is simply silly to fear that Al Qaeda would be able to launch some sort of a chemical attack in the U.S. because of the size and bulk of such an attack and the fact that it would only kill a handful of persons at it's very worst.

Certainly Al Qaeda has suffered huge losses and setbacks at the hands of American forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It is probably a sure sign that Al Qaeda has been substantially weakened that they make such nonsensical threats involving weapons technology that they have no means whatsoever to develop or possess. With the American July 4, coming up in a few days, you can almost expect Al Qaeda to spend a $1.59 to buy a VHS videotape to record some silly threats that they have no means whatsoever to carry out to hope to inspire some fear and wreck the picnics and fireworks celebrations of some Americans who actually might believe that Al Qaeda is going to target them eating hot dogs or drinking a beer with their relatives in some backyard fireworks celebration somewhere.

With the McCain campaign headed on near certain trainwreck path to defeat in November, the best hope of some in the GOP is to inspire some absurd Al Qaeda fear campaign, no matter how silly the claims of a WMD threat to Americans actually are. In fact, Al Qaeda never warns before it actually really attacks. It's always been a surprise attack such as 9/11 or in Iraqi towns and villages with a car bomb or suicide bomber. Whenever Al Qaeda makes a threat, then you know it isn't going to happen. It's just nonsense meant to scare a few folks and for Al Qaeda to act like they're still some deadly force to be feared. It's a sure sign of their weakness when they make threats and have no means whatsoever to make good on those threats.

Certainly every American needs to recognize that tighter security measures at airports and other areas is not only good enough to prevent most actions by any possible terrorists, but also most likely by most criminals as well who deal in drugs or illegal firearms, etc. Whatever serves to prevent crimes at airports or other public places is probably good enough to stop most likely terrorists as well. That part of national security is good and rational. But the fear of nonsensical WMD threats is not.

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (12)


Politics of fear... kind of like MoveOn's ridiculous ad with the mom saying John McCain can't have little Alex (as though McCain will still be President in 18 years and kept us in the war and instituted a draft...) or like Obama's race card speech the other day "the republicans are going to make you afraid of the Black Man"??


not to nitpick, but gallup has mccain and obama tied.

and even if al'quaida doesn't have their own facilities, it would be beyond naive to think that they could not obtain some form of chemical, biological, or nuclear material on the black market. and some of the bio/chem weapons aren't that hard to make. remember the rican gas attack in the tokyo subway several years ago?

personally, i want the FBI to take such threats seriously. if they didn't, then i would be alarmed.

Hello Bill. I condemned the MoveOn ad recently as well. It is an example of an unfair independent 527 ad that certainly unfairly distorts the "hundred years" in Iraq statement by Mr. McCain. However, I don't view Mr. Obama's statement as playing the race card at all. There have been some unfair Emails and 527 efforts not connected to Mr. McCain, but by some misguided supporters who have raised some ugly issues against Mr. Obama. I don't expect either Mr. McCain or Obama to run awful ads that cross the line, but I expect some misguided independent 527s and supporters to launch some awful nonsense.

What I find objectionable about this latest fear of Al Qaeda effort is that it is the least serious of any of their threats because they do not have the means to act on any of the WMD threats, yet it will generate unnecessary public fear. Government should never raise public alarm unless a threat is serious.

Lee Ward:

Spot on as usual Paul:

More examples of GOP fear mongering:

Bill Kristol: ...at the end of the day it'll be McCain against Obama in a national security election. The Democrats can say Nancy Pelosi's fond of quoting Franklin Roosevelt, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." We do have something to fear but fear itself. We have terrorists to fear and we have people who want to kill Americans to fear. And people who totally want to destabilize the Middle East to fear. And I think that's a pretty good argument for McCain to make against Obama.

Charlie Black, McCain's chief strategist, trying to scare the terminally frightened, terrorist-fearing, right wing voting bloc:

"The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.

Ke, the 1995 doomsday cult Sarin gas attack on five Tokyo subway lines killed only 12 persons, but did cause some injury to many more. Sarin is only a strong form of a pesticide, first developed by some German chemical company workers in 1938 who were looking for a stronger pesticide. In an enclosed Subway car, the effects of the pesticide would certainly be stronger. But in open air, this weapon is virtually worthless compared to almost any conventional explosive.


and we have no enclosed places in the US? like say the NY subway system? if i was a terrorist wanting to cause as much damage and panic as possible, i'd hit the NY subway system during rush hour.

and thanks for correcting it to sarin, i hadn't bothered to look up the specifics as it was just an example that you don't need an infrastructure to build big weapons.

if the fbi has some indication of a potentially deadly attack, but does not have specific information to counter it, you're saying they shouldn't say anything about it? that seems counter productive to me. you'd think they would want to put the warning out there and hope that somebody notices something and reports it.

lee, i'm not so sure that pointing that there are indeed people out there who want to attack us is fear mongering. are you saying that we shouldn't talk about them at all? and castigating Black for an analysis which is most likely correct, tho maybe distasteful, seems wrong somehow.

i did notice that you didn't say that either of them were incorrect in their analysis, only that you accused them of fear mongering. from our previous conversation, i take that to mean that you agree with their takes?

Ke, any city bus for that matter is highly enclosed. Yet after 9/11, Al Qaeda is almost backed into some corner to produce some event with many more than 3.000 dead in order to appear as getting more deadly. An event with only 12 dead would actually hurt the deadly image of Al Qaeda and indicate that they are actually growing weaker. And growing weaker is one of my main points here. The fact that Al Qaeda is down to using some $1.59 VHS tape to issue hollow threats that they cannot Fulfill is pretty good evidence that this organization is hurting prettty badly. If you want to credit Bush for that, then that's fine with me. But I object to any political use of terror threats by anyone.

Fred Millar:

Pretty amazing and dismaying that this whole exchange about sarin-type chemical weapons can proceed without any mention of the real "WMD" (federal regulators' term) chemical weapons which we PRE-POSITION for potential al Queda use every day in all 60 US target cities: 90-ton chlorine and ammonia tank cars and other poison gas cargoes. Prudent and serious counter-terrorism measures [e.g., from a President Obama] would begin with re-routing through shipments of these astonishing weapons (100,000 dead in 1/2 hour is potential worst case scenario, says the US Naval Research Labs ), onto available non-target routes well away from the at-risk cities. But the railroads and their Republican friends (mostly) have so far prevented any protective re-routing. The current Bush Administration so-called "routing" regulation for the most dangerous hazmat rail shipments is a total pretense of regulation, unsurprisingly, giving the railroads total power to select routes, in complete secrecy from the public, and with no meaningful inputs allowed from state and local officials. And (this is the real part) the regulation will override with federal preemption the ten major cities and two states which have introduced protective re-routing ordinances. Feel safer? Does anybody think al Queda cannot manage to blow open one or more chlorine tank cars [clearly placarded and with colorful graffiti on the sides to advertise lack of security] with a measly .77 inch steel shell, when the Bush Administratio is teaching them every day in Terrorism 101 in Iraq how to "continuously improve" their tactics so they can reliably blow through 5 inches of solid steel in our armored vehicles?
Remember the 9/11 Commission said one of the main contributing factors to the success of the 9/11 attacks was "a failure of imagination". It is not a scare campaign to realize that current (and likely future) misguided US policy and actions [e.g., to secure cheap access to "our" oil] are creating more enemies every day, and that we should reduce the most enormous security vulnerabilities which might provide a new "spectacular" attack.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Thanks for demonstrating Paul's point, Tyree.

OBL is indeed an international criminal. He's also a terrorist.

But frightened, terrorized Republicans acted irrationally - overreacted and -- here comes the winning point -- acted as if they'd been terrorized and lost their focus and perspective -- in their response to OBL and al-Qaeda.

In effect, they were defeated on 9/11 by the international criminal Osama bin Laden. He defeated them - and they STILL haven't captured him in response.

Frightened little Repubbie children like tyree have acted out ever since 9/11, and it's time to grow the f8ck up and act like adults, treat the criminals for exactly what they are - lawbreakers - and finish the job.

It'll take electing Obama to do it. The Republican agenda of governing by fear says keep OBL out there so frightened little children will continue to vote Republican.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Hostile? Poor baby -- there you go cowering under the sheets again for no reason.

"The fact that you can't explains why Obama is so busy backpedaling on his "bring the troops home now" pledge."

I didn't know part of your embarrassment and fear was over Barack's position on Iraq. Obama will bring the troops home while John McCain is perfectly willing to keep them there another 100 years, just like Bush. Whether the troops come home in January or June isn't that important.

I supported Clinton through the primary process and Obama often made a point of emphasizing the few differences between him and Clinton, and one of those differences was Obama's pledge to bring the troops home immediately, while Clinton spoke about a phased withdrawal based on conditions on the ground, etc -- and I said back then that Obama would come around to Clinton's point of view.

If your bullshit is supposed to move people away from Obama you are being hugely ineffective. Not surprising; McCain, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld are all equally ineffective.

Lee Ward:

You're not surprised because you live in fear, and you're constantly inventing monsters in your mind to justify inappropriate actions...

"All we can hope for is that if Obama is elected, he does "listen to the Generals" instead of the terrorists who support his candidacy."

Terrorists are everywhere in the minds of paranoid, childish frightened little people like tyree.

Your next door neighbor is a terrorist, and that guy who wears a turban down at the gas station - he's a terrorist too. And of course we Obama supporters are terrorists as well.

What a putz. These victims of 9/11 deserve our sympathy and support, but these paranoid children practicing fear mongering need to be recognized for what they are.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

I'm honored that you've chosen me to become one of the boogeymen in your mind, tyree.

Stop by and wet your pants with fear anytime... or better yet, act out inappropriately in response to your make-believe threats. The chimp you elected President does... why should you be any different.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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