Scepticism over new US terror warning

Sceptics have rounded on the Bush administration after the US attorney general warned of a new al-Qaida terror threat.

    Ashcroft says the US is winning the 'war on terror'

    Critics cast doubt on the

    authenticity of the threat after John Ashcroft

    launched a hunt on Wednesday for seven "armed and dangerous suspects".

    Harold Schaitberger, president of the firefighters' union, said on Thursday that

    the

    administration had known about the threats for a month.

    He said: "I do find it awfully convenient and suspicious that it happens to be tied in right behind the president's recent message to the nation as well as his troubling, plummeting poll numbers."

    And presidential contender John Kerry said the American people deserve a president who "makes the country safer".

    "We deserve a president of the United States who doesn't make homeland security a photo opportunity"

    John Kerry,
    US presidential candidate

    He told a rally in Seattle: "We deserve a president of the United States who doesn't make homeland security a photo opportunity."

    The comments came after Ashcroft said

    "credible intelligence from multiple sources indicates that

    al-Qaida plans to attempt an attack on the United States in the next

    few months".

    Suspects named

    Ashcroft and Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert

    Mueller released the names of seven suspects, including one woman,

    who could be part of an attack plot.

    "

    Beyond this intelligence, al-Qaida's own public

    statements suggests that it is almost ready to attack the United

    States," Ashcroft added.

    The new alert came just ahead of Saturday's dedication of a

    second world war memorial by President George Bush which is expected

    to draw about 100,000 people to Washington.

    Authorities fear the upcoming Republican and Democratic party conventions and

    the presidential election on 2 November

    could also be targets.

    Irene Khan (R) says the US's war 
    on terror is

     'bereft of principle'

    However, Ashcroft highlighted there had not

    been a terrorist strike on US soil since the September 11, 2001

    attacks on New York and Washington that killed around 3000 people.

    "We are winning the war on terror," he asserted.

    US lambasted

    Aschcroft's alert came on the same day that a respected human rights group lambasted the US for abuses in the name of the "war on terror".

    In a new report Amnesty International said Washington's global anti-terror

    policies are "bankrupt of vision" as human rights become

    sacrificed in the blind pursuit of security

    .

    Amnesty chief Irene Khan said: "Violating rights at home, turning a blind eye to abuses

    abroad and using pre-emptive military force where and when it

    chooses has damaged justice and freedom, and made the world a

    more dangerous place."

    Specifically, Amnesty lashed Washington for unlawful

    killings of Iraqi civilians; questionable arrest and

    mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and

    Afghanistan; and opposition to a new global criminal court.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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