The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower

Jun. 23, 2006

Earlier today, BuzzFlash suggested that the Bush Administration's claim of foiling an attempt to destroy the Sears Tower was propaganda exaggerated to distract and mislead us. While we have not denied there were indeed rumors and boasts of committing acts of terror, a careful examination of the facts makes it clear that the Miami group was not as serious a threat as portrayed in the media. They had no operational ability beyond their mouths.

Here is what we found buried in the middle of some reports:

No terrorist connections:

* Group "never met Bin Laden or had any contact with the terror kingpin's henchmen… In fact, they had no connection to any known terrorist organization." (NY Daily News)

No actual terrorist actions:

* No bomb making materials were found in the raids." (
* "Only overt acts described in the indictments were swearing oaths of allegiance to Al Qaeda and taking video footage of the F.B.I office." (NY Times)
* Six of the seven men indicted "are described only as driving (the leader) or the informer places or as attending meetings between the two." (NY Times)
* "Only devised a plot on paper." (Chicago Sun-Times)

Officials dismiss serious risk:

* Chicago Police: There was "No credible threat… They had no capability to (destroy the Sears tower). They never got to that point – or could have." (NY Daily News)
* Sears Tower executive: "Law enforcement continues to tell us that they have never found evidence of a credible terrorism threat against Sears Tower that has gone beyond criminal discussions." (Chicago Sun-Times)
* Senior federal law-enforcement source: "No means" to attack Sears Tower or other buildings. "There was no threat at all." (Chicago Tribune)
* Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communication Executive Director: "The plan developed in Florida was never an actual plan, and therefore, nobody was in danger" (CBS News)

The Sears Tower is the tallest building in North America and is known for its structural integrity. It is actually comprised of nine separate steel columns of different heights. While 9-11 showed what determined, well-supplied terrorists can do, a single wannabe amateur and a few bodyguards without any connections pose little threat, as the Chicago Police noted above.

Again, BuzzFlash is supportive of the FBI for arresting the group. We just don't think it is as important as Bush seems to want us to. The timing of the raid, given that there was no immediate operational threat, appears politically motivated. The Bush Administration wanted to scare Americans and tie the Iraq War to terror after a Senate debate on redeployment that very morning.

Bush has said for years that the point of going to Iraq was to draw out terrorists there to prevent them from coming here. If anything, the most newsworthy aspect of this story is that the suspects were largely American citizens, operating within our borders, and not even Arab, which means that our focus on War in Iraq does not address threats that could be more immediate.

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