Warn Away

Everybody is warning you about everything all of the time. Feel better now?

People who were getting hammered last week for not sending up warning flares are now speed-dialing the wire services with new warnings whenever any detainee waggles an eyebrow, or an electronic intercept picks up what sounds like a threat.

If a guy named Hassan buys a CD with Randy Newman's "Political Science" on it, we would go from a code yellow to a code orange.

Okay, I'm making a little fun at the situation, but my real attitude is… good! Warn away, and warn us next week too.

If only officials had issued a strong warning before Sept. 11...

I remember the summer of 2001. We were up to our eyeballs in Gary Condit and Chandra Levy, and no vague terror threat was going to get us off it.

I did a few shows last year about terror warnings. August terror experts were constantly saying that somebody, some day, somewhere was going to get a bad one. They were ignored. Americans tuned out en masse.

When people tune out, we have to find what will make them tune in. That's the business part of the news business. Nobody was paying any attention, and I doubt seriously there was anything anybody could have said to bring people around. It took an actual attack.

Now people are paying attention. Good! Once again, warn away. Ratchet us up from yellow to orange to whatever comes next. That's fine. People should be aware that bad guys are planning to do bad things.

These terrorists have a lot of patience. It was eight years between World Trade Center attacks. They saw they didn't pull off the first attack, so they were determined to do it right the next time… in a way that none of us would ever forget.

The Sept. 11 hijackers didn't manage to get one target in Washington, D.C. What was it? Was the Capitol? The White House? The CIA? We don't know, but at this point, I wouldn't want to be on a plane that made an accidental move toward one of those places.

And what about New York? Think we're done with New York? Probably not.

So warnings, here come warnings. Good! Warnings are good. We're going to hear a lot more of them.

That's My Word.

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