“Something big” — a big attack, a big leak, or major panic?

U.S. officials stunned

Al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri and Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), were discussing “something big,” sources say. It’s rare for veteran al Qaeda leaders to break operational security by openly discussing possible plots, and the interception stunned U.S. officials. (CBS News)

Al Qaeda is pushing our buttons

Anthony Shaffer, a former military intelligence officer who now works with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, said this might just be “Al Qaeda pushing our buttons” to see how the U.S. responds.

“It’s a test in my judgment,” he told FoxNews.com. “I think this is a trial balloon by Al Qaeda to see how we would react.” (Fox News)

No smoking gun

“The threat picture is based on a broad range of reporting, there is no smoking gun in this threat picture,” a U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

U.S. officials said there was still no information about a specific target or location of a potential attack, but the threat to Western interests had not diminished.

It’s safe in Baghdad

Rattled lawmakers in both parties applauded President Obama’s decision to shutter two dozen U.S. diplomatic posts across the Middle East and North Africa this weekend, calling the threat of a fresh terrorist attack credible, specific and the most alarming in years.

The State Department extended the closure of 19 embassies, consulates and smaller diplomatic posts through Saturday “out of an abundance of caution,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a written statement Sunday. Several other posts, including embassies in Kabul and Baghdad, will reopen Monday. (Washington Post)

Americans flee from Yemen

After days of alarms and embassy lockdowns, the United States and Britain on Tuesday stepped up security precautions in Yemen, with Washington ordering “nonemergency” government personnel to leave and the Foreign Office in London saying it has withdrawn its diplomatic staff in the capital of Sana “due to increased security concerns.”

The United States also urged its citizens living in Yemen to depart immediately. Neither the American nor British authorities said how many employees were affected by the decision to withdraw personnel. (New York Times)

U.S. playing into the hands of Al Qaeda

A suspected U.S. drone strike in Yemen — the fourth reported in the last 10 days — killed four alleged Al Qaeda members Tuesday, as the U.S. and British governments evacuated their embassies because of intelligence suggesting a possible terrorist attack.

A drone-launched missile struck a vehicle in Marib province, east of the Yemeni capital, Sana, killing the four militants, according to the Yemen Post, a privately-owned English language newspaper. A second strike targeted a “militant hideout,” the paper said, citing local security officials.

But the attacks did not hit any of the 25 suspected terrorists named on a list released Monday by the Yemeni government, according to a Yemeni official who was not authorized to be quoted.

The Yemeni government is “deeply disappointed in the U.S. decision to evacuate embassy staff,” the official said. “It plays into the hands of Al Qaeda, and it’s going to hurt our economy.” (Los Angeles Times)

U.S. spreads panic in Yemen

Adam Baron, a freelance journalist in Sanaa [the capital of Yemen], described the mood in the city: “This morning a manned intelligence aircraft circled around Sanaa for roughly two to three hours. It caused a state of alarm and panic amongst residents because it’s something that just doesn’t really happen.”

“This is a threat that’s always present… But due to these intercepted communications, there’s this belief that something could be coming soon.” (BBC News)

So what can we deduce from all of this?

1. In spite of the massive U.S. intelligence apparatus, Ayman al Zawahiri is able to have his communications intercepted without giving away his location. In other words, al Qaeda is able to outwit the NSA. So much for the value of their capacity to track the communications of all U.S. citizens.

2. In the estimation of the State Department, in spite of the fact that Iraq just had its highest monthly death toll in five years, Baghdad is one of the safest cities in the Middle East. Who knew?

3. At a time when the Obama administration clearly has an interest in hyping terrorist threats and promoting the idea that leaks from Edward Snowden made America less safe, there are leaks currently coming out of the administration that indisputably have the highest level of classification and whose disclosure poses a real national security threat. Are we to suppose that there is another Snowden out there, but this time someone willing to take an even greater risk of being tried for treason? I doubt it very much.

Much, much, more likely, these are leaks that were authorized by President Obama himself, the leaker-in-chief who can declassify whatever he wants.

Coming from anywhere else it would be treason, but coming from the Oval Office, it’s business as usual.

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8 thoughts on ““Something big” — a big attack, a big leak, or major panic?

  1. BillVZ

    August 6, 1945- Hiroshima and the nuclear holocaust -a blast, fire and radiation that killed 140,000 civilian people of Japan along with American POWs and Korean slave workers that worked in Japan’s war industry. To soften the horrific devastation and loss of life of such military action the idea that it saved thousands of lives of ‘our boys’ was offered. This evolved into the political myth that it ‘spared millions’ of lives and ended the war.
    In his 2001 State of the Union speech to Congress, as a reaction to the World Trade disaster, President G.W. Bush presented to the world another political myth, one that he and his cronies authored with carefully selected words and arranged rhetoric- not to soften but exploit the American people’s grief.- “the War on Terror.”

    “Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. This is the world’s fight. This is civilization’s fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom-good over evil.”

    Part of his War on Terror began in March 2003 with the war on Iraq. This action did not end the war on terror or spare millions of American lives from the evil adversaries.

    The truth about bringing war on Iraq and what constitutes the War on Terror is now public knowledge. The myth about the War on Terror is rather stupid fable that was put forth by a cabal of fear mongers who thought they are patriots and can use their call to arms to ensure a totalitarian conception of state security so that the Empire and those who support that state will forever prevail. It exists not for peace, Democracy or the good of the people but for unquestioning minds of politicians, their governments and intellectuals to banter about while admiring their greatness.

    “One of the things important about history is to remember the true history.” G.W. Bush 2008
    Indeed, historians will remember this war and its consequences as the most evil war in humankind’s history.

    CF: Videos Culture of Impunity 1&2 -Alternate Focus at War in Context or You Tube.

  2. eugene

    For me, the easiest way to control people is to scare them. They’ll do anything to feel secure again. Secondly, keep them ignorant with an inferior educational system and amuse them with endless, relatively senseless entertainment. And, in the modern era, to have a mindless media spouting whatever it takes to get their paychecks. Course the media has always been mindless but having it so available is the ultimate.

  3. hquain

    Puzzle: why closing the embassies for a week is going to protect them against a (diffuse) terrorist threat. Terrorists are really obsessive about their schedules?

    Reformulation: if closing the embassies for a week protects them, what kind of (serious) threat can it be? We can whack them, apparently, anytime we want.

  4. Paul Woodward

    When the NSA was listening in on Ayman al Zawahiri and Nasir al-Wuhayshi, I think the analysts were stunned that al Qaeda has such a full calender for the rest of this year — conferences to attend, videos to produce, endless comment threads to moderate. With so many other things to do, how’s a terrorist going to find time to launch an attack? Turns out, this week is the only period they have some free time.

    Either that, or maybe KRB offered the State Department a sweet deal to send in teams of painters and decorators with security clearances who can redecorate the embassies while they are closed for these few days. Who knows?

  5. La vérité

    “The challenge that confronts us is how we will live with that threat. We have created an economy of fear, an industry of fear, a national psychology of fear. Al Qaeda could never have achieved that on its own. We have inflicted it on ourselves.
    Over the coming years many more Americans will die in car crashes, of gunshot wounds inflicted by family members and by falling off ladders than from any attack by al Qaeda.
    There is always the nightmare of terrorists acquiring and using a weapon of mass destruction. But nothing would give our terrorist enemies greater satisfaction than that we focus obsessively on that remote possibility, and restrict our lives and liberties accordingly.”

    I am sceptical of the whole “scenario”.
    What really bothers me is that the diplomats and traveling Americans need security. Hundreds of children are killed in some neighbourhoods in my city. WHAT is Homeland Security doing for THEM?? Isn’t the USA their HOMERLAND too??

  6. BillVZ

    La vérité,

    ‘We’ the people had nothing to do with the creation of terror,terrorist or fear there of! Yes, fear is a number one weapon to control one’s subjects. G.W. Bush and his myth of War on Terror,endless war- promulgated it as an everlasting tool to use. Making the ‘War on Terror’ the most evil war in humankind’s history. ‘We’ who are not the originators but the ones that must live with the consequences of such a mode, along with the rest of the world.

  7. BillVZ

    Sorry for the latness of this
    just to make it clear- Such consequences for the ‘we’ in the U.S. include:
    The need to accept everlasting ‘war’,the recruiting of a standing battle ready military to send off, the Patriot Act, Office of Homeland Security, the FBI and CIA on steroids, the NSA Surveillance industry, especially their XKeystone program, the expanded union of the MIC, a watchful government that tells us can warn us on where to to travel overseas,close embassies and a compliant MSM who reminds us how fortunate ‘we’ are for their reporting to the nation of those capabilities.

  8. La vérité,

    @ BillVZ
    The para with “we” is NOT my opinion…. it is from the linked article by Ted Koppel ( btw, after he embedded with the troops, he was all praise for the invasion ). Sadly, the so called democratic USA govt does not know what Democracy is any more. What “we” need and want is hardly reflected in the action, or rather inaction of elected officials. But that should not prevent the citizenry from taking actions to change the dierection in which the country should be going and I hope, I am doing my tiny bit. I refuse to accept govt lies and violations of citizen’s rights with impunity.

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