In a July 4 article about security concerns at this summer's forthcoming Democratic and Republican National Conventions, The New York Times' David Johnston reported, "New York is regarded as a higher risk than Boston by counterterrorism officials because President [George W.] Bush is a Republican and because of consistent intelligence."
The Times' unsupported report of speculation that Al Qaeda would target Bush and his party is consistent with Bush administration officials' self-serving predictions that terrorists are planning an attack to try to affect the outcome of this year's presidential race to the benefit of Senator John Kerry (D-MA). The only support Johnston offered for the assertion as a whole was a statement by the Central Intelligence Agency's outgoing head of clandestine operations, who said that New York City "remains a prime target."
The Times' statement recalled an assertion, also under the guise of a statement of fact, by CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena; Media Matters for America previously noted that on CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports on May 27, Arena reported, "[T]here is some speculation that Al Qaeda believes it has a better chance of winning in Iraq if John Kerry is in the White House." As with the Times assertion, Arena, in the words of the Center for American Progress, "spread the unsubstantiated myth that al Qaeda has a preference [for Senator John Kerry (D-MA)] in the upcoming U.S. elections."
On May 28, Media Matters for America cited a March 17 Reuters article reporting evidence that suggests terrorists have precisely the opposite preference: In a statement claiming responsibility for the Madrid bombings that killed nearly 200 people in March, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades -- a terrorist organization that claims to have ties to Al Qaeda -- said it wants to see President Bush reelected in November.