Monday, August 02, 2004

A Multi-Layered Approach?

There's a pair of interesting stories in tomorrow's Washington Post about the latest terror alerts. First, James P. Rubin, a senior Kerry adviser, raises some doubts about Tom Ridge's motives:

Rubin, however, said he took issue with some comments by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, saying Ridge implied that the new information was the product of new anti-terrorism and intelligence-gathering policies implemented by the Bush administration. Ridge, he said, was "not as fair-minded as he ought to be" in describing how the latest information was uncovered.

This comes immediately after a "distancing" of the Kerry campaign from Howard Dean, who made a less shaded suggestion that the alerts were politically motivated:

Although fighting terrorism has been seen as a political asset for Bush and the GOP, Kerry's campaign has not shrunk from taking this fight to Bush. The campaign's strategy has been to take seriously all terror alerts by the federal government while challenging the president's handling of terrorism and the war in Iraq.

As part of that approach, Kerry and his advisers quickly distanced themselves from comments by former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who suggested Sunday that the terror alert may have been politically motivated to blunt the momentum Kerry gained from his convention last week. Saying he took the threats seriously, Kerry said of Dean: "I don't care what he says. I haven't suggested that, and I won't suggest that."

Rubin's comment is even more interesting in light of the other Washington Post news story:

Most of the al Qaeda surveillance of five financial institutions that led to a new terrorism alert Sunday was conducted before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and authorities are not sure whether the casing of the buildings has continued since then, numerous intelligence and law enforcement officials said yesterday.

Apparently Rubin's comment came even before this news came out, which makes it remarkably prescient.

Notice that Dean becomes a convenient foil for Kerry to deflect the accusation that he is politicizing the war on terror. But Dean is still out there making the suggestion, backed up to a lighter extent by Rubin, and thus keeping the topic in the news. Is this intentional?

Hmmmm ...


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