Friday, October 08, 2004

Today's Vocabulary Words: "Needless," "Mass" and "Hysteria" 

Courtesy of Josh Marshall: Yesterday it was reported that
A nationwide advisory has been issued to schools across the country. It all started after U.S. soldiers in Iraq found photos and floor plans of six schools in the U.S. Among them, one in Franklinville, NJ and the other is in Rumson, NJ . . . .

The U.S military has known about the information since last July. But with an upcoming presidential election around the corner and last month's deadly terror attack on a school in Beslan, Russia, it has taken on new importance.

The deputy education commissioner of New Jersey tells ABC News that officials from the state office of counter-terrorism are contacting every school district in the state.

This, after an Iraqi insurgent captured in Baghdad last summer had allegedly downloaded floor plans of elementary and high schools in Florida, Oregon, Georgia, New Jersey, Michigan and California.

The U.S. Education Department sent out letters to schools across the country, warning schools to be aware of specific observers, particularly those with an interest in obtaining site plans, bus routes and attendance lists.
This morning, however, CNN offered a slight but significant clarification:
The Homeland Security official said the material was associated with a specific individual in Iraq, and it could not be established that this man had any ties to terrorism. He did have a connection to civic groups doing planning for schools in Iraq, the official said.

"There is no analysis by the intelligence community that the Iraqi information or Beslan information or any other information indicates there is any plot to attack a school in the United States," Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse.
To recap: disks discovered "in the last couple of months." "Terrorists Targeting Our Schools?" and a raft of similar stories published yesterday (three weeks and change before the election). Potential "terrorist" exposed as a school planner -- when? I guess we would have to conclude it was last night, since the CNN update ran this morning. Because our good friends at the Department of Homeland Security would never knowingly scare the bejeezus out of millions of innocent schoolchildren (not to mention their parents) by disseminating a story they knew to be a great steaming bucket of guano, now would they?

We suspect this story was destined for the Feelgood File ("Modernization Plans for Iraqi Elementary Schools!") until Beslan came along, at which point the light bulb of insipiration all but blinded Karl Rove.

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