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MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Another attack on U.S. soil is possible, but not probable

As if most don't already suspect something is a bit off with our intelligence communities, the conflicting news coming out of Afghanistan and Washington, D.C., these days should be enough to convince anyone that something is awry.

President Bush and his administration are still warning that al-Qaida is regrouping to mount another massive attack on U.S. soil. It could even be nuclear, chemical or biological.

The warning of "could be worse than 9/11" is even thrown in.

Of course, it's possible, but is it probable? As a free country, we will always be vulnerable to attacks. But we must also consider the dangers of crying wolf too many times, diluting any future warning that could deal with a high-probability catastrophic attack.

While Washington is issuing warnings, those closest to what's happening in al-Qaida are saying that an attack is not as probable as thought.

Intelligence agents in Pakistan and Afghanistan and a top U.S. general all claim that al-Qaida has suffered so many losses lately, both in high-ranking personnel and in finances, that it's doubtful the organization can do much more than try to make people believe it is still viable.

Pakistani intelligence agents also say cellular telephone chatter being monitored has dropped among suspected al-Qaida operatives, a sign they aren't planning much of anything.

And, although the trail for Osama bin Laden has gone cold, they believe he is hunkered down in the mountains, able only to send messages by courier to make the world aware he is still alive.

Certainly, no one needs to ignore any warning from the leaders of this country. And, certainly, there still are terrorists who would like nothing better than to strike another devastating blow to America.

But we shouldn't say the sky is falling if it isn't, and that appears to be what Washington is doing these days.

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