- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 28, 1999

Planning to bring in the new millennium at the foot of the Eiffel Tower or atop the remains of the Berlin Wall? The State Department says watch out: "Americans citizens traveling or residing abroad during the period are urged to review their security practices, to remain alert to the changing situation and to exercise caution," the worldwide caution announcement about terrorist threats warns on its Web site. "American citizens should avoid large crowds and gatherings, keep a low profile, and vary routes and times of all required travel."

So there you have it. Better add a wig and sunglasses to the champagne and bottled water on this week's pre-Y2K shopping spree. The U.S. government has also received information that terrorists are planning attacks on Americans during and just prior to New Year and Ramadan celebrations around the world. And as usual, mad Saudi terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden is said to be behind the dark plots.

To confuse the terrorists, partyers might consider making their celebrations New Years commemorations instead and disinviting any guests that may constitute a "large crowd." And for those staying at home, the FBI has released a report called "Project Megiddo" to thousands of state and local police. The report, named after the New Testament millennial battleground, warns about violent white supremacists, apocalyptic cults, and radical anti-United Nations militias. Warning signs of such violent types include accelerated physical training (and he said he was just training for a marathon) and stockpiling of arms.

Of course, warnings of terrorist attacks should be taken seriously The problem is, though, that the warnings coming out of State and strangely being downplayed by the White House are so diffuse that you have to wonder about what kind of hard information lays behind them.

This problem was discussed by former CIA Director James Woolsey on Fox News Sunday, who made the very good point that if U.S. intelligence services are feeling besieged, it may be because important tools have been taken away from them by the Clinton administration itself. It will be recalled that in 1995, then-CIA Director John Deutch announced that the CIA would no longer accept information gathered from "tainted" sources which turns out to be a real handicap when you want to infiltrate a terrorist network. As Mr. Woolsey noted, "this makes it difficult to recruit people who are human rights violators as spies. Well, and if you are spying on a terrorist group, everybody in it is a human rights violator. If you use only nice people as spies you'll know what's going on in the churches." These guidelines could be changed by executive order by the president himself, which may be a good idea if the decibel level of the State Department sirens is to be taken seriously.

All this should not stop Americans from welcoming the new millennium in style, but if it takes 17,000 police to ensure safety on Times Square at midnight on Friday, you may just ask yourself if the terrorists are not winning this one right now.

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