Wag The Dog, Dubya Style!

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Thursday January 31 7:03 PM ET

Possible Al Qaeda Plot to Attack Nuclear Plants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has warned that the nation's 103 nuclear power plants could be a target of an airline attack, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

``The NRC issued a message (to nuclear operators) saying you need to be aware that there is some information that indicates a nuclear power plant could be a target and to be aware of your surroundings and report anything unusual to the FBI (news - web sites),'' said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.

Another U.S. official said the NRC document was dated Jan. 23 and it cited information passed on by the FBI after a senior al Qaeda operative was debriefed. Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and his al Qaeda network have been blamed for the Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (news - web sites).

The document warned of a second airline attack on America, this time on a nuclear power plant, the official said.

The information was uncorroborated and had no specific date or time for any attack, Johndroe said.

He noted that President Bush (news - web sites) said in the State of the Union address on Tuesday that al Qaeda was gathering information on potential targets inside the United States.

``This is why we remain on alert,'' he said.

In his speech on Tuesday Bush said documents found in Afghanistan (news - web sites) showed that the war against terror was just beginning.

``We have found diagrams of American nuclear power plants and public water facilities, detailed instructions for making chemical weapons, surveillance maps of American cities, and thorough descriptions of landmarks in America and throughout the world,'' Bush said.

An FBI spokesman said the bureau had not issued any public warning about an attack on a nuclear power plant.

NRC spokesman Roger Hannah would not comment on the document but said: ``Up to this point, there has been no credible threat to a any nuclear power plant in this country.''

Hannah said security at U.S. nuclear power plants remained ''on heightened alert'' since the Sept. 11 attacks. He said there has been no changes this month in that security level.

The NRC warning comes on the heels of media reports that U.S. intelligence agencies have issued an internal alert warning that Muslim extremists were planning to strike again, possibly targeting a U.S. nuclear power plant.

The NRC document reportedly cited information from the FBI that said a second airline attack on the United States was already planned and three individuals were on the ground in the United States recruiting non-Arabs to take part.

It said the plan was to fly a commercial aircraft into a nuclear power plant, and if any military aircraft intercepted the plane the mission would be diverted to any tall building.

-- (forget@about.Cheney), February 01, 2002


Yes, Dubya made a point of making sure he mentioned in the State of the Union speech that there are many ways we could be attacked at any time. Now he's got Rumsfeld preaching this meme, trying to get the people paralyzed in a state of fear again, so they will forget all about the Dick Chenron fiasco. They have undoubtedly planned a major attack against another country in the near future, but it will be strategically timed to distract the public just as the heat starts to peak in the scandal investigation.

-- (more@to.come), February 01, 2002.

These risks were acknowledged immediately after Sept. 11 and the heightened level of security is still in operation, so there is no more reason for the people to be frightened now than there was 1 or 2 months ago. The Bush administration is bringing this subject to the forefront in news conferences again only because they want to distract the attention of the people away from the recent emphasis on the Chenron scam.

Friday February 1 6:21 AM ET

Terrorism Alert May Linger

By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Despite U.S. successes in Afghanistan (news - web sites), the Bush administration is cautioning that terrorists may be operating in the United States, requiring the nation to stay on high alert for perhaps years.

The call for vigilance came from a variety of officials Thursday, from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to the head of the FBI (news - web sites) and the White House where the president's national security adviser asserted that countries with links to terrorists have been ``put on notice.''

FBI Director Robert Mueller told reporters that ``sleeper cells'' of terrorists may well continue to operate in the United States, awaiting orders to attack.

While the al-Qaida terrorist network's ability to launch major attacks has been disrupted by more than three months of U.S. military action in Afghanistan, ``we're still on a very high state of alert'' for possible attacks by members that may already be in this country, Mueller said.

Documents found in Afghanistan and information obtained from captured al-Qaida members have indicated that the terrorist groups had an interest in U.S. nuclear power plants, dams and water systems, according to the FBI and CIA (news - web sites).

Among the papers found in Afghanistan were rudimentary schematics of nuclear weapons and diagrams of American nuclear power plants, intelligence officials have said.

Only last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent to all operators of U.S. power reactors an advisory that an al-Qaida member had told the FBI that a plan was in the works to hijack a jetliner and fly it into a nuclear power plant.

An FBI official said late Thursday that the information, after being evaluated, was deemed not credible. It first surfaced several months ago and resurfaced again through a second intelligence channel about two weeks ago, prompting the NRC advisory.

Rumsfeld warned the danger will become much greater if terrorist groups link up with hostile nations willing to provide nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

``These attacks could grow vastly more deadly than those we suffered'' on Sept. 11 when more than 3,000 people were killed in New York City and Washington and aboard a plane that crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside.

Mueller, in remarks to reporters Thursday, said he believes that there may well be groups of terrorists in the United States. ``Do I know for sure? I believe there are, but I cannot say for sure,'' he said.

He said the FBI still does not know all it would like to know about the 19 terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. ``We know half as much as we'd like,'' he said.

Rumsfeld alluded to what President Bush (news - web sites) in his State of the Union address called a peril from an ``axis of evil'' - North Korea (news - web sites), Iran and Iraq. These countries, the administration is convinced, have links to terrorists.

``The real concern at the present time is the nexus between terrorist networks and terrorist states that have weapons of mass destruction,'' Rumsfeld said, although naming no countries.

``Let there be no doubt, there is that nexus, and it must force people all across this globe to realize that what we're dealing with here is something that is totally different,'' he said. ``It poses risks to not thousands of lives but hundreds of thousands of lives, when one thinks of the power and lethality of those weapons.''

A similar theme came from the White House.

Elaborating on Bush's pledge to hold North Korea, Iran and Iraq accountable for actions that support terrorist networks, the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites), said Thursday those nations have been ``put on notice.''

Rumsfeld cautioned Americans that the battle against terrorists likely will be a long one, but eventually there will be a sign of victory.

``I think it'll take a period of years,'' he said after a speech at the National Defense University, a graduate school for senior military officers and government officials.

``The reality is that our goal is to be able to live as free people,'' Rumsfeld said. ``It means we are going to have to go after the terrorist networks. It means that we have to deal with countries that harbor terrorists.''

``It's not something that will be quick. ... But I think we'll know when we have been successful.''

-- (repug@media.deception), February 01, 2002.

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