American counterterrorism officials, citing what they call "alarming" intelligence about a possible Qaeda strike inside the United States this fall, are reviewing a proposal that could allow for the postponement of the November presidential election in the event of such an attack, NEWSWEEK has learned.
The prospect that Al Qaeda might seek to disrupt the U.S. election was a major factor behind last week's terror warning by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Ridge and other counterterrorism officials concede they have no intel about any specific plots. But the success of March's Madrid railway bombings in influencing the Spanish electionsÂ—as well as intercepted "chatter" among Qaeda operativesÂ—has led analysts to conclude "they want to interfere with the elections," says one official.
Did you get that, Osama? I know we've been ignoring you lately, but you could effect the elections. We're not trying to give you any ideas or anything, but if you want to attack, we might suspend the elections and declare martial law. You got that? Good.