Orange Christmas is a Bad Dream

Dec 22, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The federal government has increased the national alert status to orange (high risk) after receiving intelligence suggesting al Qaeda is planning multiple terrorist attacks in the U.S. over the Christmas holiday.

Speaking at a news conference, Tom Ridge, the secretary of homeland security, said, “The strategic [intelligence] indicators, including al Qaeda’s continued desire to carry out attacks against our homeland, are perhaps greater now than at any point since September 11th. Information indicates that extremists abroad are anticipating near-term attacks that they believe will rival, or exceed, the attacks in New York [and] at the Pentagon.”

According to a report in the Washington Post, “New intelligence indicates al Qaeda operatives are exploring security vulnerabilities on commercial or cargo flights originating overseas and flying into U.S. airports, officials said. It suggests the terrorist network is preoccupied with repeating its Sept. 11, 2001 tactic of hijacking aircraft for use as missiles against U.S. targets.”

Federal authorities were quick to say they knew of no specific target or date of a possible attack.

While most of the security focus is on high profile targets such as airlines, national monuments, etc., there is also concern how the elevated terror alert may impact so-called soft targets such as retail establishments.

Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, told the Associated Press, “The threat won’t have an effect this weekend, because most people don’t know about the alert. But it could reduce retailers’ ability to have a huge business on Monday and Tuesday, and the week after Christmas. It may likely make people who are close to being done decide they’ve purchased enough.”

Others such as Karen MacDonald of Taubman Centers and Elle Toley of the National Retail Federation disagree.

Miss Tolley said, “Since Sept. 11, consumers have learned to go on with their lives.”

“Consumers learned to be vigilant, and I don’t think this will have an effect” on their shopping, said Ms. MacDonald.

Moderator’s Comment: Are American consumers becoming less vigilant about terror attacks the further removed we get from 9/11? Will the orange alert just
issued by the government have any affect on retail sales between now and New Year’s?

The Washington Post piece said government has been reluctant in the past to raise the terror alert level because it has feared that Americans, particularly
those living away from New York and Washington, are beginning to tune the warnings out.

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean was widely criticized for saying American had not been made safer by the capture of Saddam Hussein. Let us
pray, this holiday season, we do not find out he was right.
Anderson – Moderator

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