Fear this!

So it is now being revealed — now, right before the surge in Iraq, right before the State of the Union address, right when Bush needs some serious fearmongering — that “insurgents reportedly tied to al Qaeda in Iraq” were planning to “orchestrate a new attack on American soil”. And apparently it was all quite 9/11-like. You know, with student visas and what not.

First, what does this even mean? Who are these so-called “insurgents reportedly tied to al Qaeda in Iraq”?

Second, how serious was it? How advanced was the plot?

Third, according to ABC News, “the plot was discovered six months ago”.

Six months ago. Now, former NSC counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, whom I generally like, seems to buy it: “This appears to be the first hard evidence al Qaeda in Iraq was trying to attack us here at home.” But — and it’s a huge BUT: “The plan was uncovered in its early stages, and sources say there is no indication that the suspects made it into the United States. Officials also emphasize that there is no evidence of an imminent attack,” reports ABC.

Oh. Well then.

It seems we have nothing to fear but what we’re told to fear, over and over again and at the most convenient political times for the president. If this was known six months ago, why is it just coming out now? Top-notch reporting by ABC? Or a convenient leak?

With the Iraq War going so badly, do you think Bush might just reference this, or something like it, in today’s SOTU? Look out, another 9/11 is right around the corner? Something like that?

Or do you think this might have something to do not just with the escalation in Iraq but with Bush’s declining approval rating? It’s now down to 28 percent, according to CBS News.

And so it’s more of the same, the eternal return of the terrorist threat. That threat may be real, all-too-real, and there may very well be terrorists plotting another 9/11, or worse, but how is one to tell truth from truthiness, reality from rhetoric, with Bush, or his scripted messengers, crying wolf whenever a boost is needed? Fear is a powerful force in politics, and Bush has pushed all the right buttons. But no more. Who does not suspect that whatever passes through his lips is just more spin?

The desperation is palpable. Fearmongering may be all Bush has left.