Gadfly is Marty Aussenberg, a columnist for the weekly Memphis Flyer. Marty is a former SEC enforcement official, currently in private law practice in Memphis, Tennessee. (A full bio is below the fold.) Cross-posted at The Memphis Flyer.

Loathe as I am to make predictions about almost anything, having missed every prediction I’ve made in the last year, from my homies, the Pittsburgh Steelers’, victory in the Super Bowl to the price of a gallon of gas, I am also a big believer in that old saw about the past being prologue. So it is with some fear and trepidation that I make the following prediction: there will be a terrorist attack, or at least dire warnings about one, in this country, sometime within the next several months (and certainly before the November ’06 mid-term elections).

The circumstances are ripe either for another terrorist attack or for the removal of the cobwebs from the terrorist warning system (Dept. Homeland Security). No, it’s not because our preparedness for an attack is non-existent, because security at our ports (both sea and air) has been shown to be about as tight as a sieve, because FEMA has been shown to be utterly incompetent, or even because our National Guard, which would have to respond in the event of a domestic terrorist attack, has been decimated by its repeated deployment to Iraq (Wash Post). It’s because the political climate dictates a return to a tactic that’s been successful for this administration in the past.

With the president at an all-time low in popularity, and an all-time high in disapproval (Polling Report) the Republican party in a shambles (thanks, in part to the Dubai ports debacle), and the country starting to believe that Democrats are more worthy of confidence on the Republicans’ go-to issue of national security, (ABC News) there is only one thing that will save the President, and his party: a terrorist attack, or at least sounding the alarm bells that one is imminent.

It’s no secret that the terrorist alert/warning system has been manipulated to benefit the popularity rating of the administration. (Info Clearing House)

In a well-documented study of the confluence of political conditions and the issuance of terrorist warnings, entitled “The Nexus of Politics and Terror,” Keith Olberman, the articulate host of the MSNBC show “Countdown,” revealed on the show, and in a posting on his blog that on at least 13 occasions, the issuance of terrorist “alerts,” had coincided with events he called “political downturns” for the Bush administration. He summarizes the findings by saying:

But, if merely a reasonable case can be made that any of these juxtapositions of events are more than just coincidences, it underscores the need for questions to be asked in this country – questions about what is prudence, and what is fear-mongering; questions about which is the threat of death by terror, and which is the terror of threat.

Let’s not forget the effect the Bin Laden tape that was revealed (again, no doubt fortuitously) just before the 2004 presidential election had on the outcome of that election. Even President Bush has acknowledged that probability.

It continues to amaze me that, despite the overwhelming evidence of this administration’s incompetence in the “war on terror,” the country has, at least until recently, continued to believe that Bush is their man when it comes to protecting them from a terrorist attack. I commented about this in an earlier piece entitled Who You Gonna Call, in which I said:

But how stupid do you have to be to believe that a man who’s demonstrably incapable of prosecuting a successful campaign to bring down (“dead or alive”) our avowed “Public Enemy Number One,” [Bin Laden] is the man for the job, or worse, that even if we’re attacked again, he still deserves to be considered our protector. How many more times do we really need to be fooled?

And so, with the prospect that the Republicans will be brought down in the upcoming elections by their, and their leader’s, tanking popularity ratings, the imminence of additional disclosures of ethical scandals in the Congressional (read: Republican) bribery (read: Abramoff) investigations, the likelihood that Patrick Fitzgerald will bring his other shoe down, hard, on Karl Rove in the continuing “Plamegate” investigation, and the general implosion by spontaneous political combustion of the Republican party as we know it, the harbingers are clear. The only thing that may save Bush and his party is their time-tested go-to tactic: be afraid, be very afraid.


Mr. Aussenberg is an attorney practicing in his own firm in Memphis, Tennessee. He began his career in the private practice of law in Memphis after relocating from Washington, D.C., where he spent five years at the Securities and Exchange Commission as a Special Counsel and Trial Attorney in its Enforcement Division, during which time he handled or supervised the investigation and litigation of several significant cases involving insider trading, market manipulation, and management fraud. Prior to his stint at the S.E.C., he was an Assistant Attorney General with the Pennsylvania Department of Banking in Philadelphia and was the Attorney-In-Charge of Litigation for the Pennsylvania Securities Commission, where, in addition to representing that agency in numerous state trial and appellate courts, he successfully prosecuted the first case of criminal securities fraud in the state’s history.

Mr. Aussenberg’s private practice has focused primarily on investment, financial, corporate and business counseling, litigation and arbitration and regulatory proceedings. He has represented individual, institutional and governmental investors, as well as brokerage firms and individual brokers, in securities and commodities-related matters, S.E.C., NASD and state securities regulatory proceedings, and has represented parties in shareholder derivative, class action and multi-district litigation, as well as defending parties in securities, commodities, and other “white-collar” criminal cases.

Mr. Aussenberg received his J.D. degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and his B.A. degree in Honors Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh. Immediately following law school, he served as a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow with the Delaware County Legal Assistance Association in Chester, Pennsylvania.

He is admitted to practice in Tennessee, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, before the United States Supreme Court, the Third and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the United States Tax Court, as well as federal district courts in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. He is an arbitrator for the NASD, New York Stock Exchange and American Arbitration Association, has published articles (“Stockbroker Fraud: This Kind of Churning Doesn’t Make Butter”, Journal of the Tennessee Society of C.P.A.’s,; Newsletter of the Arkansas Society of C.P.A.’s; Hoosier Banker (Indiana Bankers Association), and been a featured speaker on a variety of topics at seminars in the United States and Canada, including: Municipal Treasurers Association of the United States and Canada, Ottawa, Canada; Government Finance Officers Association; National Institute of Municipal Law Officers, Washington, D.C. ; Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants, Memphis, TN; Tennessee Association of Public Accountants, Memphis, TN (1993)

Mr. Aussenberg has two children, a daughter who is a graduate of Columbia University and holds a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University and is currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and a son who is a graduate of Brown University and is working with a conservation organization in Marin County, California while he decides what to do with the rest of his life.

Mr. Aussenberg is an avid golfer whose only handicap is his game, an occasional trap shooter whose best competitive score was a 92, and an even less frequent jazz drummer.

0 0 votes
Article Rating