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On August 11 John Kerry criticized the Bush Administration for blocking a bipartisan plan to give seniors access to lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada With almost 80 percent of Medicare recipients supporting Kerrys position the Bush campaign was faced with the prospect of defending a politically unpopular position That same day in an interview with the Associated Press FDA Acting Commissioner Lester Crawford said terrorist cues from chatter led him to believe Al Qaeda may try to attack Americans by contaminating imported prescription drugs Crawford refused to provide any details to substantiate his claims ADVERTISEMENT Asked about Crawfords comments a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security was forced to concede We have no specific information now about any Al Qaeda threats to our food or drug supply The Administration had brazenly used Americans justifiable fears of a future terrorist attack to parry a routine criticism of its policies How did it come to this Crawfords comments were the latest iteration of a political strategy--hatched in the days after 911--that has spiraled out of control What started as an effort to leverage early support for the President on national security issues has expanded into the politicization of our countrys safety and security infrastructure That process has damaged the credibility of the federal government and made all Americans less secure Revving the Engines In the weeks following 911 President Bushs popularity--which was languishing at around 50 percent in August 2001--soared to 90 percent By mid-October 2001 support for Republicans in Congress--which was at just 37 percent in August--had shot up thirty points After Republicans lost most major 2001 gubernatorial races to Democrats GOP strategists realized that the key to electoral success was tapping into the post-911 fear of terrorism and focusing on security issues On January 19 2002--just nineteen weeks after the 911 attacks--Bushs top political adviser Karl Rove told a high-level gathering at the Republican National Committee to
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