Yes you have access to more information than the rest of us. You could be integrating this below awareness and coming up with something more significant than the vague feeling we all have---even though you say there was nothing specific besides increased activity in Al Qaeda training camps. But balancing this is the proclivity of this administration to play the fear card when they want to change the subject. More and more Republicans are falling off the Iraq war bandwagon. Seems to me if this gut feeling were anything other than a political ploy you would have raised the terror level to the next color---silly as that might be. Instead you just tried to raise the fear level.
Whether or not you actually had a gut feeling about this---you are only a bit player. But your boss Bush is known for going with his gut and he has consequently helped give intuition somewhat of a bad name. I feel a need to defend my topic of study against his now infamous incompetence and the incompetence of most everyone on whom he depends.
Intuition has a very complex relationship to gut feelings. (For another take on this relationship from a different perspective---see Reason vs. Intuition.) The intuition of Bush and his administration seems effective only when geared to winning power. I would even say it is magnificent on that score. They are incredibly inventive, even uncanny in their judgment here. Also they appear to leave no stone unturned in their desire to seek their own political advantage. But their intuition doesn’t seem to work very well for them when the task is instead to look after the best interests of the country. Their gut feelings and whatever else they integrate into their decisions have been for the most part wrong and very often spectacularly so---with disastrous results.
I suspect part of the problem is lack of motivation at the deepest level. They seem not to care about the well-being of the country--- and certainly not about governing as an art. Instead it is all about their raw power. How could their gut feelings work so well for them some of the time and not at all at other times?
Gut feelings are grounded in emotions. Although emotions get a bad rap, they are essential to us. They are evolution's way of assuring that our survival needs are taken care of so that we will survive and even thrive. As Spinoza pointed out---way before Darwin--- thriving is our basic task as biological organisms, and emotions play an important role in this task---up to a point.
Emotions are closely coupled to biological drives at least to begin with---such as the need to satisfy hunger, avoid danger, to reproduce, and to gather information about the world. But with time, the positive or negative arousal---or constellation of bodily feelings---associated with different emotions get connected to many other things. Largely without our awareness, these bodily feelings have an important role in guiding behavior and decision-making ----just as is true with other animals. A recent NYT article titled Who's Minding the Mind? summarizes some recent work showing that experimenters can manipulate our unconscious feelings without our awareness and thereby affect our subsequent behavior---at least to a certain degree.
What these positive and negative feelings get connected to over time depends on the interaction of individual biology, training and education, and of course the vagaries of chance. Emotions eventually come to determine our most basic values--- what motivates us, or is important to us---what we care about. But these do not necessarily correspond to what we hold as values at a conscious level, although they might. Rather these unconscious values are reflected in some underlying consistency that characterizes our behavior over time--- and they can be very different.
Gut feelings are thus a generic term for largely unconscious bodily feelings that direct behavior according to our values. (The work of Antonio Damasio has been very important in establishing the importance of somatic feelings to decision-making.) The bottom line is that for the most part we only have trustworthy gut feelings about things that are important to us at this unconscious level---which I will stress again may or may not correspond to what at a conscious level we hold to be our values.
Bush and his lackeys care about power, not about governing or even about Democracy. (Who with a deep interest in democracy would label themselves “The Decider?”) When Bush goes with his gut about anything other than what bears on accumulating power, as far as I can ascertain, he is not interested in the subject. He seems to have instead simply incorporated into his visceral guidance system the need to further the aims of others who are likely to advance his power.
Our strange and dangerous President is unusually lacking in that aspect of emotion that motivates us to be interested in the world and its workings in what seems to be at first glance a more or less non-partisan way. Yet in the long run this capacity to be interested for interests’ sake has had an essential role in our survival both as individuals and as a species. It has certainly been responsible for our collective scientific endeavor and our technological prowess, which (at least up to this point) have been important to our ability to thrive.
Power, of course, like gut feeling and its relationship to intuition is a many sided issue. Technological power (independent of the uses which some put it to) is a less raw kind of power than the kind that tends to motivate the bullies of this world---such as George Bush. Alas his favorite nickname in some circles “the Chimp,” is surprisingly apt (with apologies of course to many Chimpanzees). Like many others, my gut feelings tell me that any President whose need for power may know no bounds is just as dangerous to America as an external attack.
I was recently in Prague where I visited the Museum of Communism. The exhibit about the secret police stressed that wiretapping under communism, in contrast to what happens in Democratic Countries, required no court order!