James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Uncertainty about threats to airlines

Another question no one in the mass media is going to address:

Are the recent international flight scares real, or are they just another Machiavellian tool, used to keep the majority of Americans clinging to the Bushies for perceived safety?

At first glance, that seems a terribly cynical question. But I am not a cynic. I am, however, a skeptic (something all reporters should be, and too few are today). Also, I learned long ago to consider the source of any information, any claim.

The word of the Bush Administration, the source of all the airline scares of the past several months, is not to be trusted on any level. That is an established fact. They lied to the world about the “intelligence” that led to the invasion of Iraq, they have lied consistently about what they are doing on the environment, on energy policies, on education, about who is profiting to what degree from the Iraq invasion and how those profits are allocated, and about dozens of other goals and activities.

I have a file folder, growing thicker by the day, that contains nothing but single-sheet reminders of specific, documented lies to the public from the Bushies.

OK. Why airline scares?

Because a large measure of citizen support for the nominal president is rooted in the belief – carefully created and nurtured by the administration – that “he” is doing more than anyone else could or would to keep America safe from further terrorist attacks.

Cancellation of a few flights now and then is a great way to keep the fear and the belief alive, and also useful in distracting the public and television from topics considerably less favorable to the administration. And, yes, the Bush crowd IS cynical enough to use such tactics; the number and baldness of the lies to the public make that clear.

If the threats are real, why is it that only our intelligence services – their incompetence and willingness to be manipulated for the Bushies’ political ends now also proven – are turning up the threats. Recently cancelled flights have been those originating in England, Scotland and France, where intelligence services generally have been somewhat more reliable than ours. (The Brits on Iraq aside.) Yet reports on the supposed terrorist threat to the flights apparently have come from our people, not theirs – and on their turf.

Certainly there is a genuine terrorist threat to this country. It is another tragic, terrifying fact. Almost as certainly, the posturing and measures touted by the Bush administration won’t prevent determined terrorists from hitting us again.

Are the threats to various specific airline flights real?

Damned if I know.

But the question and the answer matter, because if the threats are fake, demonstration of that would show the public the degree to which it is being manipulated and frightened for base political ends. If the threats are shown to be real, well score one for the Bush crowd and honor them for catching those threats and protecting the public.

Sadly, no news agency in the country will even hint that there might be a question.