Too much warning? Not any more

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 22, 2002

How much warning is too much?

That’s a question government officials are struggling to answer in the midst of criticism about its handling of terrorist threats.

FBI Director Robert Mueller issued an ominous warning on Monday, saying that suicide bombings and more terrorist attacks are inevitable here in America.

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"There will be another terrorist attack. We will not be able to stop it," he is quoted as saying.

But when? And where? Those are the questions government officials can’t answer.

So instead, their repeatedly issuing warnings about potential threats. Based on sometimes quite vague intelligence information, government agencies are erring on the side of "tell all," even when they’re

not sure what to tell.

It’s a knee-jerk reaction, perhaps, to the political criticism levied against President George W. Bush, who apparently had warning prior to Sept. 11 that some type of terrorist attack was likely.

Unfortunately, the depth of prior knowledge is turning into a political issue and deterring the focus from the real issue at hand: How much warning is too much?

And, that answer isn’t an easy one. Certainly, we want to know what threats are ahead; we need to know, to protect ourselves

But do we run the risk of creating the "boy who cried wolf" scenario? Can these warnings come so often, so vaguely, that we begin to turn a deaf ear to them?

We hope not. Because we believe the public has both a right and a need to know about these warnings. We would rather shrug off a dozen false warnings than suffer through the devastation of a public uninformed, and unprepared, for another terrorist attack.

The FBI director’s warnings are ominous, but we must

heed them.We must acknowledge the dangers that lurk, and we must be aware of them.  

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