Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation

Bush's Christmas Terror Alert

by Michel Chossudovsky

www.globalresearch.ca 24 December 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO312D.html

This calculated decision of the military-intelligence apparatus was taken at a time when families and friends, with small children and the elderly meet and rejoice. 

Christmas, celebrated around the World by both Christians and Non-Christians, is the coming of peace between fellow human beings. It is the pursuit of peace and tolerance.

Bush's Christmas terror alert strikes with unreserved cynicism at the very heart of the "Spirit of Christmas".


As people around the World prepare to celebrate Christmas, in a a spirit of peace and communion, the Bush Administration has put America on high risk terror alert.

On December 21st, four days before Christmas, the Homeland Security Department, raised  "the national threat level from an elevated to high risk of terrorist attack". ( http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/index.jsp )

In his pre-Christmas Press Conference, Homeland Security Department Secretary Tom Ridge confirmed that

"the U.S. intelligence community has received a substantial increase in the volume of threat-related intelligence reports". 

According to Tom Ridge, these "credible [intelligence] sources" raise "the possibility of attacks against the homeland, around the holiday season..." (For complete statement of Secretary Tom Ridge, 21 December 2003, http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/ )

Needless to say an atmosphere of collective fear and confusion has been created across America, which goes against the very "Spirit of Christmas". According to the media reports, the high-level terror alert is to "hang over the holidays and usher in the new year".

"Terrorists still threaten our country and we remain engaged in a dangerous - to be sure - difficult war and it will not be over soon," warned Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "They can attack at any time and at any place."

"With America on high terror alert for the Christmas holiday season, intelligence officials fear al-Qaeda is eager to stage a spectacular attack - possibly hijacking a foreign airliner or cargo jet and crashing it into a high-profile target inside the United States." ( Boston Globe, 24 December 2003)

The official Christmas announcement by the Homeland Security Department dispelled any lingering doubts regarding the threat level: 

 "the risk  [during the Christmas period] is perhaps greater now than at any point since September 11, 2001;"

It also warned Americans, in no uncertain terms, but without supporting evidence, that there are:

"indications  that [the] near-term attacks ... will either rival or exceed the [9/11] attacks".

"And it's pretty clear that the nation's capital and New York city would be on any list..."

Following Secretary Ridge's announcement, anti-aircraft missile batteries were set up in Washington:

. "And the Pentagon said today, more combat air patrols will now be flying over select cities and facilities, with some airbases placed on higher alert." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "You ask, 'Is it serious?' Yes, you bet your life. People don't do that unless it's a serious situation." (ABC News, 23 December 2003)

According to an official statement (quoted by ABC News, 23 December):

 "intelligence indicates that Al Qaeda-trained pilots may be working for overseas airlines and ready to carry out suicide attacks."

On Christmas eve 24th of December, several flights out of Paris were cancelled in response to "credible threats" that Al Qaeda operatives may be boarding the planes.


This is the fifth time the Bush Administration has put the country on Orange Code terror alert since September 11, 2001.

Orange Code Alert was ordered on 7 February 2003, one day after Colin Powell's flopped  presentation on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction to the UN Security Council.

Powell's intelligence dossier had been politely dismissed. The rebuttal came from UN Inspector Hans Blix, who showed that the intelligence used as a pretext to wage war on Iraq had been blatantly fabricated.

Colin Powell addressed the Security council on the 6th. On the 7th, the Bush administration declared an ‘Orange Code’ Terror Alert. This "save face operation" contributed to appeasing an impending scandal, while also upholding the Pentagon's planned invasion of Iraq.

Media attention was immediately shifted from Colin Powell's blunders at the UN Security Council to an (alleged) impending terrorist attack on America.

The United States raised its terrorist threat alert to the second-highest level -- code orange -- based on significant intelligence reports warning of a "high risk" of a terrorist attack from the international terrorist group al-Qaeda, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said on February 7.

"After conferring this morning with the Homeland Security Council, the decision has been made to increase the threat condition designation, currently classified at 'elevated' risk,... to the 'high' risk category," Ashcroft said. "This decision for an increased threat condition designation is based on specific intelligence received and analyzed by the full intelligence community. This information has been corroborated by multiple intelligence sources."


"The call that we've made today, which Americans have certainly heard before, is based on our knowledge and our conviction that heightened awareness and readiness deters terrorism and saves lives," Ridge said. (State Department Dispatch, 7 February 2003)

Following this February 7 Orange Code announcement, anti-aircraft missiles were immediately deployed around Washington. The media became inundated with stories on Iraqi support to an impending Al Qaeda attack.

The objective was to present Iraq as the aggressor. According to the New York Post, (11 February 2003):

‘The nation is now on Orange Alert because intelligence intercepts and simple logic both suggest that our Islamic enemies know the best way to strike at us is through terrorism on U.S. soil.‘

Another story allegedly emanating from the CIA on so-called ‘radioactive dirty bombs’ had been planted in the news chain (ABC News, 13 Feb 2003). Secretary Powell warned that "it would be easy for terrorists to cook up radioactive ‘dirty’ bombs to explode inside the U.S. … ‘How likely it is, I can't say... But I think it is wise for us to at least let the American people know of this possibility.’"(ABC News, 9 Feb. 2003).

Meanwhile, network TV warned that "American hotels, shopping malls or apartment buildings could be al Qaeda's targets as soon as next week…".

The hidden agenda in the weeks leading up to the war was not only to link Baghdad to Al Qaeda, the intent was to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, which would muster unbending support for President Bush and weaken the anti-war protest movement. Following the announcement, tens of thousands of Americans rushed to purchase duct tape, plastic sheets and gas-masks.

It later transpired that the terrorist alert was fabricated by the CIA, in all likelihood in consultation with the upper echelons of the State Department (ABC News, 13 Feb. 2003, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CRG302A.html ).

The FBI, for the first time had pointed its finger at the CIA.

This piece of that puzzle turns out to be fabricated and therefore the reason for a lot of the alarm, particularly in Washington this week, has been dissipated after they found out that this information was not true," said Vince Cannistraro, former CIA counter-terrorism chief and ABCNEWS consultant.


According to officials, the FBI and the CIA are pointing fingers at each other. An FBI spokesperson told ABCNEWS today he was "not familiar with the scenario," but did not think it was accurate. (Ibid)

While tacitly acknowledging that the alert was a fake, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge decided to maintain the ‘Orange Code’ alert:

"Despite the fabricated report, there are no plans to change the threat level. Officials said other intelligence has been validated and that the high level of precautions is fully warranted." ((Ibid)

A few days later, in another failed propaganda initiative, a mysterious Osama bin Laden audio tape was presented by Sec. Colin Powell to the US Congress as ‘evidence’ that the Islamic terrorists "are making common cause with a brutal dictator". (US official quoted in The Toronto Star, 12 Feb. 2003). Curiously, the audio tape was in Colin Powell's possession prior to its broadcast by the Al Jazeera TV Network. (Ibid.) ,

"Copy and Paste": Déjà Vu

Is the Bush administration telling the truth regarding the risk of a terror attack during the Christmas holiday?

While the circumstances and timing are different, Secretary Tom Ridge's December 21 statement has all the appearances of  a "copy and paste" (Déjà Vu) version of his February 7 announcement, which according to the FBI was a hoax. 

Al Qaeda is once again identified in the December 21st statement as "the Outside Enemy", without of course mentioning that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA and is an "intelligence asset" controlled by the US. (See Selected References at  http://globalresearch.ca/articles/11SEPT309A.html

In other words, what is "the credibility" of  an Administration which, according to the FBI is on record for having (in February 2003), deliberately fabricated a terror alert in violation of US laws?

What is disturbing in the December 21 statement is the fact that an "actual" or "attempted" Al Qaeda terrorist attack seems already to be in the official pipeline.

The Central  Role of "a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event"

In October, former CENTCOM Commander, General Tommy Franks, hinted that an Al Qaeda sponsored terrorist attack could in fact lead to the suspension of democracy in America.

Franks was alluding to a so-called "Pearl Harbor type event" which would be used as a justification for declaring a State of emergency, leading to the establishment of a military government: 

"a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event [will occur] somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event."

The "terrorist massive casualty-producing event" is presented by General Franks as a crucial political turning point. The resulting crisis and social turmoil are intended to facilitate a major shift in US political, social and institutional structures.

In the words of David Rockefeller:

"We are on the verge of global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order."

A similar statement was made by Zbigniew Brzezinski in the Grand Chessboard:

"As America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat."

The NeoCons' Project for the New American Century (PNAC), published in September 2000, barely two months before the presidential elections, called for:

"some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor."

(See http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/NAC304A.html )

Needless to say, the statement of the NeoCons in the PNAC is consistent with that of Secretary Tom Ridge.

The day following Secretary Ridge's announcement (December 21st), President Bush was briefed by his "top anti-terror advisors" in closed door sessions at the White House. Later in the day, the Homeland Security Council (HSC) met, also at the White House.  The  executive body of the HSC, the so-called Principals Committee (HSC/PC), headed by Secretary Tom Ridge. includes Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Director George Tenet, Attorney General John Ashcroft , FBI Director Robert Mueller and Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary, Emergency Preparedness and Response, who overseas the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In the wake of the HSC meeting held on 22 December, Secretary Ridge confirmed that:

 "we reviewed the specific plans and the specific action we have taken and will continue to take"

According to the official statement, which must be taken seriously, an "actual terrorist attack" in the near future on American soil would lead to a Red Code Alert. The latter in turn, would create conditions for the (temporary) suspension of  the normal functions of civilian government, as foreseen by General Tommy Franks. This scenario was envisaged by Secretary Tom Ridge in a CBS News Interview on  December 22, 2003:

"If we simply go to red ... it basically shuts down the country," meaning that civilian government bodies would be closed down and taken over by and Emergency Administration. The scenario is presented in detail at the Homeland department's Ready.Gov website at http://www.ready.gov/

Moreover, in recent months (May 2003) the Homeland department has conducted an "anti-terrorist exercise" entitled TOPOFF 2. The latter is described as "the largest and most comprehensive terrorism response and homeland security exercise ever conducted in the United States.

In a Strangelovian logic, this "national response capability" translated into a military style exercise by federal, State and local level governments, including Canadian participants, establishes various "scenarios" under a Red Code Alert. In essence, it was conducted on the same assumption as military exercises in anticipation of an actual theater war, examining various WMD attack scenarios and the institutional response of State and local governments:

"It assessed how responders, leaders, and other authorities would react to the simulated release of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in two U. S. cities, Seattle, WA and Chicago, IL. The exercise scenario depicted a fictitious, foreign terrorist organization that detonated a simulated radiological dispersal device (RDD or dirty bomb) in Seattle and released the pneumonic plague in several Chicago metropolitan area locations. There was also significant pre-exercise intelligence play, a cyber-attack, and credible terrorism threats against other locations." (For full text see, Department of Homeland Security, Summary Conclusions From National Exercise, Office of the Press Secretary, December 19, 2003, http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?content=2693 )

What will happen under Code Orange terror alert during the Christmas holiday, remains to be seen.

The Administration has already simulated the Orange Code and Red Code scenarios, of an actual terror attack. The perspective, and assumptions, however, have changed markedly since the February 7 Orange Alert. 

We are no longer strictly dealing with a fear and disinformation campaign.  "Mass casualty producing events"  --or "Pearl Harbor type events" to use the PNAC's expression-- constitute the basic premise and driving force behind the Homeland Emergency response system, including its Ready.Gov instructions to citizens, its "anti-terrorist" legal framework under the Second Patriot Act, etc. According to Frank Morales:

"Homeland defense", as we experience it today, has been percolating in the bowels of the Pentagon and corporate think tanks like the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Council on Foreign Relations, along with their Congressional counterparts, for nearly a decade. What it required was an emergency situation. The "homeland security" apparatus presently being constructed is modeled roughly after the military's "combatant command structure" and is --in the wake of 9/11– set within the context of the "laws and customs of war", hence the introduction of military courts and the shifting of jurisdictions for so-called "crimes associated with terrorism". The Northern Command, based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, whose job as of October 1st is to patrol America, will head up this homeland defense "command structure".

In short, what we are dealing with is "the Roadmap to a Police State".

This Administration has chosen the Christmas holiday to wage a campaign of fear and intimidation. Its ultimate objective consists in manipulating Americans into accepting a de facto military government, as a means to "protect their civil liberties".

This calculated decision of the military-intelligence apparatus was taken at a time when families and friends, with small children and the elderly meet and rejoice. 

Christmas, celebrated around the World by both Christians and Non-Christians, is the coming of peace between fellow human beings. It is the pursuit of peace and tolerance.

Bush's Christmas terror alert strikes with unreserved cynicism at the very heart of the "Spirit of Christmas".

24 December, 2003

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© Copyright M  chossudovsky, CRG, 2003