Austin Hill

Call it “the ‘gut feeling’ heard ‘round the world.”

And you should also know that the “gut feeling” comment from U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has a back-story.

It seems to have started with ABC News reporting that Al Qaeda is preparing a “spectacular” summer attack on U.S. soil. According to them, the Bush administration had arranged an urgent, multi-agency meeting on Thursday July 12th to discuss the new threats.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Chertoff met with the editorial board at the Chicago Tribune, and a few of his comments to them began to emerge nationwide.

“I believe we are entering a period this summer of increased risk,” he stated to the Tribune staffers. Further, he claimed “we do worry that they (Al Qaeda) are rebuilding their activities.” And, according to the Chicago Tribune, Chertoff further indicated that, while there is not sufficient evidence of a specific terror plot to warrant a raising of the terror threat level, he did have a “gut feeling” that we are in a state of increased danger.

But what about the ABC News reports of a “spectacular” summer attack? According to The Chicago Tribune, “Chertoff sternly echoed those sentiments…”

So Chertoff has a “gut feeling” that conditions are more dangerous. And there is nothing specific that he can report. And there is no reason to raise the terror threat level. But at the same time he “echoes the sentiments” of ABC News about a “spectacular” terror plot. Okay, then.

The next day, White House spokesman Tony Fratto claimed that the alleged “urgent multi-agency meeting” with security officials on Thursday was really not that urgent, had been pre-planned for sometime, and didn’t even involve the highest ranking individuals. And then ABC News followed-up with a report claiming that the “Thursday security meetings” were indeed something new, indeed very urgent, and focused around growing concerns of a “spectacular” terror plot.

But wait, there’s more. The day after that, Chertoff popped-up on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning, America,” denying reports that terror threat levels had risen to “pre 9-11” levels, but also indicated that “the level of intent on the part of the enemy remains very high.”

When these little excerpts are strung together, a somewhat discernible message begins to emerge. The message seems to be something like this: “the risks today are greater than they have been, they are not as great as some would suggest, and on an on-going basis we are seeking to adequately address these risks.”

Unfortunately, most Americans don’t have the time or the interest to string together excerpts from multiple reports. And they shouldn’t have to, either.


Austin Hill

Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.