The NSA might have developed an extraordinary capacity to keep track of global communications and everything every American does online. But when it comes to keeping track of al Qaeda, it appears the NSA and the CIA are still struggling.
Or to put it another way, U.S. intelligence can gather an unlimited amount of hay, but it still can’t find needles — or for that matter explain why there’s any reason to expect that the needles it might hope to find would be located in the haystacks it has created.
CNN reports: A State Department travel alert Friday said al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond, as the United States is closing 21 embassies and consulates Sunday as a precaution.
“Current information suggests that al Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August,” said the alert, which covers the entire month.
It warned that “terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests.”
A separate State Department list showed the 21 embassies and consulates that will close on Sunday, normally the start of the work week in the countries affected.
They included embassies in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen and 11 other countries, as well as consulates in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Other embassies to be closed were in the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Jordan, Djibouti, Bangladesh, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Mauritania and Sudan.
A senior State Department official said the agency told the diplomatic facilities to close Sunday, normally the beginning of the work week, and that additional days could be added. The U.S. Embassy in Israel also will be closed as normal on Sunday.
I guess this could all be a cunning ploy to make it look like State doesn’t have very specific intelligence when in reality it does, but I’m more inclined to think that they are getting hints something bad might happen somewhere and everyone wants to play safe.