“Certain” is a very strong word. It doesn’t mean that an attack will “probably” happen. It doesn’t mean that it’s “likely” to happen. An event that is “certain” is destined to happen, 100% likely, absolutely unavoidable and inescapable.
So when five senior government officials tell you an event is “certain” to occur, then they’re putting their reputations on the line. After all, if the supposedly “certain” event doesn’t happen, then they obviously don’t know what they’re talking about.
On Tuesday, February 2, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein asked five senior U.S. government intelligence officials to estimate the “likelihood of another terrorist attack attempt on the U.S. Homeland in the next three to six months” as “high or low.” Their answers leapfrogged questions of likelihood to hug the absolute answer of “certain.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein: What is the likelihood of another terrorist attempted attack on the U.S. Homeland in the next 3 to 6 months? High or low? Director Blair?
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair: An attempted attack? The probability is certain, I would say.
Feinstein: Mr. Panetta?
CIA Director Leon Panetta: I would agree with that.
Feinstein: Mr. Mueller?
FBI Director Robert Mueller: Agree.
Feinstein: General Burgess?
Defense Intelligence Agency Director Ronald Burgess: Yes, Ma’am. Agree.
Feinstein: Mr. Dinger?
Acting Assistant Secretary of Intelligence and Research John Dinger: Yes.
Feinstein: All right. That tells us something very clearly.
You heard it from their mouths, and they’re staking their reputations on it: a “terrorist attack attempt on the U.S. Homeland” by August 2, 2010 is certain.
Such declarations are not without effect. In a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee last Wednesday, Texas Representative Lamar Smith cited the intelligence chiefs’ certification of this upcoming “certain terrorist attack attempt” in order to advocate that the government stop informing people of their constitutional rights. If you’re going to take away people’s rights and get away with it, you have to dial up the fear first.
The intelligence chiefs have supplied the necessary fear. But are they correct? This Friday will mark two months since their assertion that a “terrorist attack attempt on the U.S. Homeland” is “certain.” There has been none yet.