FBI Agents Say White House Manufactured Terror Alerts
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Terror alerts manufactured?

FBI agents say White House scripting 'hysterics' for political effect

By Jon Dougherty
2003 WorldNetDaily.com

Intelligence pros say the White House is manufacturing terrorist alerts to keep the issue alive in the minds of voters and to keep President Bush's approval ratings high, Capitol Hill Blue reports.

The Thursday report said that the administration is engaging in "hysterics" in issuing numerous terror alerts that have little to no basis in fact.

"Unfortunately, we haven't made a lot of progress against al-Qaida or the war on terrorism," one FBI agent familiar with terrorism operations told CHB. "We've been spinning our wheels for several weeks now."

Other sources within the bureau and the Central Intelligence Agency said the administration is pressuring intelligence agencies to develop "something, anything" to support an array of non-specific terrorism alerts issued by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.

"Most of the time, we have little to go on, only unconfirmed snippets of information," a second FBI agent, who also was not named in the report, said. "Most alerts are issued without any concrete data to back up the assumptions."

Indeed, the most recent terrorism alerts have been issued absent specific threat information. Each of the accompanying warnings comes without any shift in the nation's new color-coded alert system; the current warning level of yellow, or "elevated," has been in place since late September.

Even recent reports regarding five Arab men who may have slipped into the country via Canada using phony identification could be politically motivated, one expert said.

"We have very, very little to support the notion that these five represent any more of a threat than any of the other thousands of people who enter this nation every day," terrorism expert Ronald Blackstone said. "It's a fishing expedition."

On Wednesday, one of the five, a Pakistani jeweler, Mohammed Asghar, was tracked down in Pakistan by The Associated Press. He told reporters there he'd never been to the U.S., though he said he tried once two months ago to use false documents to get into Britain to find work.

"I imagine the finger pointing has started at the White House," Blackstone said.

On Thursday, President Bush said of the Asghar case: "We need to follow up on forged passports and people trying to come into our country illegally."

"Don't misunderstand, there is a real terrorist threat to this country," another FBI agent told CHB. But, the agent continued, "every time we go public with one of these phony 'heightened state of alerts,' it just numbs the public against the day when we have another real alert."

Last year, the FBI issued alerts that terrorists may attack stadiums, nuclear power plants, shopping centers, synagogues, apartment houses, subways, and the Liberty Bell, the Brooklyn Bridge and other New York City landmarks, reported Knight-Ridder newspapers. The bureau also advised Americans to be wary of small airplanes, fuel tankers and scuba divers.

CHB reported that FBI and CIA sources said a recent White House memo listing the war on terrorism as a definitive political advantage and fund-raising tool is just one of many documents discussing how to best utilize the terrorist threat.

"Of course the White House is going to exploit the terrorism threat to the fullest political advantage," said Democratic strategist Russ Barksdale. "They would be fools not to. We'd do the same thing."

The White House did not return phone calls from WorldNetDaily seeking comment.

Knight-Ridder Newspapers, meanwhile, reported the FBI has never meant for all its warnings and advisories to be made public.

"Everything is being described as a terror alert, and that's not what this stuff is," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, in a July interview.

But, he added, "if information is becoming public, then we naturally cannot work in a vacuum and pretend like all this information is not becoming public."

"We live in a world of threats; not all of them necessitate a warning," says FBI terrorist warning chief Kevin Giblin, a 27-year veteran of the bureau. He told Knight-Ridder there should be a generally increased level of vigilance, and he looks to the color-coded advisory system not the alerts intended for police to signal it.

The threat of terrorism may also be helping the White House manage the sagging economy. Officials at home finance giant Freddie Mac said yesterday that the threat of terrorism may have played a role in bringing 30-year mortgage rates down to 5.85 percent, their lowest since an average 5.83 percent in 1965.

"Current issues such as the possibility of military actions abroad, heightened terrorism alerts and an unexpected drop in consumer confidence contributed to the decline in mortgage rates this week," Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist, told Reuters.

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The case of the five vanishing suspects

Like the posthumous Elvis Presley, Canada's five mysterious terror suspects seem to have popped up everywhere.

They were at Akswesasne, being smuggled into the United States by natives. They were at Toronto's Pearson Airport, where they slipped into Canada by claiming refugee status. One was seen on a bus entering the Lincoln Tunnel. Another was spotted on a West Coast ferry.

By the middle of this week, they had starred in hundreds of newspaper and television reports and had been on the lips of everyone from U.S. President George W. Bush to Senator Hilary Clinton, who announced at a press conference that they had entered the United States through Canada.

But yesterday, the FBI admitted that the most important ingredient in the story -- that is, the proof -- is nowhere to be found: "There is no border-crossing information that would say they're here," FBI spokesman Ed Cogswell said. "And to say they came in from Canada is pure speculation."

Mr. Cogswell's comments are the latest wrinkle in an odd, highly hyped saga that began on Dec. 29, when the FBI announced that it was launching a national manhunt for the five men. Although details were sketchy, the five were believed to have come to Canada from the Middle East before entering the United States on some unstated mission. Arriving just three days before New Year's, which provided an obvious peg for terrorism-related stories -- and right in the middle of the holiday "silly season" -- the tale of the five mystery men quickly assumed tremendous energy.

"Frankly, we were surprised at all the coverage," said Sgt. Paul Marsh, a spokesman with the RCMP. "It was amazing, really."

What Mr. Marsh had expected to be a relatively minor item soon became a lead story. By Dec. 30, it was the top item on the CNN newscast, with anchor Paula Zahn introducing it as "the big FBI story."

The press rushed to fill the obvious gaps in the story, such as how the five were supposed to have entered the United States. The New York Daily News, for example, reported that they had been smuggled across the border at Akwesasne, southwest of Montreal. Grand Chief Raymond Mitchell angrily pointed out that there was no evidence to support the story. Other news reports offered different accounts: Some, for example, said the five were spirited across at road checkpoints.

A shortage of official information, coupled with pressure to produce scoops on the developing story, resulted in heavy cross-pollination among the media.

By this week, the story had taken on something of a surreal quality. On Wednesday, a Pakistani jeweller whose picture is among the five released by the FBI emerged at his shop in Lahore to say he has never visited the United States. An Associated Press photograph of Mohammed Asghar taken at his shop was a near-perfect match for the one included on the FBI list under the name Mustafa Khan Owasi.

Mr. Asghar, 30, said he was surprised to open a local newspaper and see his picture with another man's name beneath it. "I am a Pakistani and am living in my country, but American authorities have released my picture among those who are being traced by the FBI for entering America," he said. "I have no links with any terrorist organization."

Mr. Asghar's bit of dissonant information was part of the story's general unravelling, which was virtually complete yesterday when the FBI admitted that there was no proof that the five had come from Canada, that they had crossed the border, or that they were connected with terrorism.

"We don't know if they ever entered the U.S.," Mr. Cogswell said. "And in fact we've never linked these guys to terrorists. Most of what we have here is an unknown, and even with these individuals we don't know if they are true names with those photographs."

"We're chasing rumours," a senior RCMP officer said. "We don't know if these five men were ever in Canada and we certainly have no proof whatsoever that they crossed into the United States either legally or illegally."

Asked what might have triggered the initial FBI allegation about the five Middle Eastern men entering the U.S. from Canada, the Mountie replied caustically: "It was a slow week at the White House. They needed something to stir the pot because nothing was happening in Iraq."

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