Al-Qaida's choice in November

By Geraldine Sealey

Published May 28, 2004 4:32PM (EDT)

Here's a little outrage of the day for you. The Center for American Progress noticed this on CNN yesterday. And we'll ask the question again: What liberal media?

"Yesterday, CNN Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena spread the unsubstantiated myth that al Qaeda has a preference in the upcoming U.S. elections. Arena, who is supposed to be an objective journalist, claimed, 'there is some speculation that al Qaeda believes it has a better chance of winning in Iraq if John Kerry is in the White House.' Arena's comment came on the same day Kerry called for 40,000 more troops in Iraq. E-mail Kelli Arena at and tell her to stick to the facts."

This subject of "speculation" was suggested publicly by John Ashcroft in his press briefing the other day, and is being spread -- largely unquestioned -- by various administration supporters on CNN and elsewhere. Every time they say "al-Qaida had such success disrupting the Madrid election, they want to try it here, too," what they mean is: "Al-Qaida wants John Kerry to win the election. Let's not let the terrorists win."

The USA Today led a piece today saying three administration officials confirmed that Ashcroft's warning that al-Qaida was ready to strike this summer was based in large part "on a stream of intelligence that indicated that al-Qaeda is emboldened by its successful attacks in Madrid." But then the flags shoot up in the next paragraph: "The content of the threat information behind Wednesday's warning has not changed substantially since the railway bombings in Spain in March, and it has not yielded any plots against the USA, the officials said." (Emphasis added.)

Huh? There's no doubt al-Qaida would like to attack the U.S. again. But the timing of the administration's urgent talk this week of al-Qaida trying to affect the election in November sounds more and more like a political ploy. Someone should tell Kelli Arena.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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