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Thursday, August 05, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > An American Debate: How Severe the Threat?

The New York Times > Washington > An American Debate: How Severe the Threat?: "August 5, 2004
An American Debate: How Severe the Threat?
By STEPHEN KINZER
and TODD S. PURDUM

KENOSHA, Wis., Aug. 4 - If the United States was in danger of a terrorist attack and faraway financial institutions were supposed to be on high alert, there was no evidence of it at Franks Diner, a 78-year-old Kenosha institution where senators mix with regular folk and the prospect of another attack seemed just part of the background noise of daily life.
'I don't know who on earth to believe anymore,' said Michael Schumacher, a 54-year-old writer who was eating a bratwurst for breakfast. 'You feel you're being manipulated all the time.'
Some version of that view was echoed at almost every table here as many patrons questioned whether the Bush administration was trying to manipulate the terrorist threat for political advantage.
Some, like John Gilmore, who owned Franks until a few years ago and still comes back to eat, said they had lost faith in the administration after American troops failed to find unconventional weapons in Iraq.
'They messed that thing up so badly that at this point, I don't believe anything they tell us,' Mr. Gilmore said. 'There's always an ulterior motive somewhere.' "

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