Former State Dept. Official, Expert On Extremism Says US Terror Alert Is 'Crazy Pants'

from the ridiculous dept

We've already discussed just how bizarre it is that the US's big terror alert and embassy evacuation has already involved revealing details of how the government figured out what Al Qaeda is up to. It appears that plenty of experts in these fields are completely mystified as to the government's actions here, both in their reaction to the threats and then revealing the specific way they found out about it (at the same time they're defending secrecy is needed over their data collection methods).
“It’s crazy pants – you can quote me,” said Will McCants, a former State Department adviser on government extremism who this month joins the Brookings Saban Center as the director of its project on U.S. relations with the Islamic world.

“We just showed our hand, so now they’re obviously going to change their position on when and where” to attack, said Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst who was part of the team that hunted Osama bin Laden for years.

“It’s not completely random, but most people are, like, ‘Whaaat?’ ” said Aaron Zelin, who researches militants for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and blogs about them at Jihadology.net
But, really, there's a bigger issue here, highlighted by this simple tweet from Cathal Garvey:
The narrative beggars belief. Same month NSA mass surveillance enters public scrutiny, Al Qaida leadership suddenly start emailing plots.
Of course, now it's come out that it wasn't "email" that the US found out about, but a conference call between various Al Qaeda leadership, but that doesn't really change very much. In many ways, it makes the story even more bizarre. We've already heard from Pentagon-friendly reporters claims that the terrorists were changing how they communicate after the Snowden revelations -- and yet suddenly they all jump onto a conference call that the US government can easily monitor? Really?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 9:55am

    Did anyone ever consider that Al Qaeda might intentionally have an insecure conference call simply to get the US to react?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 10:16am

    Re:

    I'd guess it was an imaginary conference of an imaginary plot the FBI plans to stop. It is said Batman is in the vanguard of the technology supplying via the Wayne Industries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 10:57am

    Re:

    So Al Qaeda is linked to 4chan to troll our crazy government?

    Those damn dirty terrorists!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re:

    No. Nothing beats 4chan /b/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    yaga (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re:

    Just wait until they goatse the government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    I did, about a week ago when all this began, but used the example of a bunch of kids in Yemen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    I did, about a week ago when all this began, but used the example of a bunch of kids in Yemen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Except Mr. Rogers. And with good reason. You do not want to be be on his bad side.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 11:59am

    Re:

    The thought did cross my mind.

    Do not trust any information that was too easy to get.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:06pm

    Re:

    It's either that or the government is just making shit up.

    What I find interesting is that Al Qaeda and the US government have precisely the same agenda about this spying stuff: having more of it benefits both of them. In that light, either scenario is plausible and the whole thing is a bunch of scare-mongering BS intended to get us to give up on fighting for our rights and freedoms.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

    if there were anything or not, according to the US it was going to be a dead cert attack and but for the spying that was being done on all Americans, they would never have found out about the discussion done in wherever. anything to try to justify the mass spying! God forbid but i am waiting to read about an attack somewhere on someone to strengthen the justification! i doubt if there are any lengths that wouldn't be gone to to try to keep the spying program

     

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  12.  
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    Varsil, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    "Conference call"

    It'll later be revealed that this wsa Al Qaeda's attack. They bought five cell phones for one guy who is a talented voice actor, and he causes millions of dollars in losses by pretending to be a high-level meeting plotting something spectacular.

     

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  13.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    They're either just fucking with the NSA or, more worryingly, purposefully misdirecting them knowing that they'll be prone to prove their relavence right now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Michael, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:12pm

    Conference Calls Are Destroying The World!

    The #1 US priority should be putting an end to conference call enablers. Clearly these services that allow people to call into a conference number is enabling terrorist activity. Why isn't the government doing something about it? Is the DOJ actively building a case against these horriffic companies? Who is allowing Al Qaida to make suce conference calls?

    We need to put an end to this technological nightmare immediately before more lives are lost! Without them, these attacks could not be planned.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:12pm

    Re:

    It worked on 9/11. They pulled the strings, and their puppets in the US danced, danced, danced like the easily-manipulable halfwits they are. A mere pinprick of an attack provoked the US into spending trillions, getting thousands of its people killed, driving the country into recession, and destroying the Constitution.

    So yes, they might well have an insecure conference call just for the laughs.

    And you know, it's entirely possible that at this point the entire organization consists of three guys in a cave somewhere, with no money, no personnel, no weapons, no resources, no nothing -- except the ability to sporadically pop up and go "BOO!", then guffaw themselves silly over the resulting chaos.

     

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  16.  
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    FedUp American, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:16pm

    Re:

    A "good" terrorist doesn't actually have to DO anything bad ... they just keep making their target think it's gonna happen and then sit back and laugh while the target scurries around in panic. They sky is falling ... the sky is falling!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:16pm

    Re:

    "God forbid but i am waiting to read about an attack somewhere on someone to strengthen the justification!"

    It is much easier to do a couple drone strikes in Yemen, yell all clear. Then use it as a justification to keep the NSA spy program up and running.

    me

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    sorrykb (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Conference Calls Are Destroying The World!

    I'd be completely in favor of this.

    On a side note, I'm picturing a bunch of Al Qaeda operatives simultaneously shouting into their phones to be heard during the call, and then that one guy who forgot to hit "mute" complaining about all these stupid conference calls making it impossible to get any work done.
    ...
    Actually, now I've changed my mind. Perhaps conference calls are our last defense against terrorism.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Andy (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Reminds me of the old joke about the golfer who told the guy he was playing with, who was a much better player, that he didn't want to use a handicap, but he wanted three "Gotchas". Puzzled, the other guy agreed. As he was about to tee off at the first hole, the first guy suddenly grabbed him between the legs and shouted "GOTCHA!". The other player's game went to pieces. He couldn't concentrate on playing as he was so worried about when the next "Gotcha" was going to come.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:37pm

    Don't believe it!

    This "terror threat" is as much bullshit as the phoney claims that this mass surveillance has been effective in stopping attacks in the past. Since that has been pretty much disproved they needed another plan to sell this crap. Al Qaeda are not so stupid as to use ordinary unencrypted communication methods. This call never happened. When the truth comes out (and it will) they will look worse than they already do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Monitoring all US domestic phone and internet traffic to figure out what people in Pakistan and Yemen are doing makes perfect sense... doesn't it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Applesauce, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:42pm

    The one goal of terrorism

    It is important to constantly remind ourselves that the goal of terrorism is NOT to blow things up. The goal is to terrorize. If you want to identify the terrorists, just keep asking who it is who keeps telling you to be afraid.

    So, what is the proper response?

    The proper response is the same as if you are leading an army that comes under fire from a sniper. The sniper knows he cannot kill everyone in the army. That is not his goal. His goal is to stop you, to make you take cover. That is how one man can halt the progress of an entire army. The proper response of the army is DO NOT STOP. Send a small detachment out to hunt the sniper, but
    accept the casualties and keep making progress. Any other policy is surrender.

    This explains how al qaeda has won the war against the US. The US surrendered. Either the USA was stupid, or it didn't want to win.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    Re: The one goal of terrorism

    A thousand time this.

    "Either the USA was stupid, or it didn't want to win."

    I think the obvious answer is "didn't want to win". The US is cowardly, and that cowardice was taken advantage of by a small group of powerful people in US government and industry to advance their own anti-American agenda. They certainly don't want the "war" to be won (or lost). They want it to continue forever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    Since I now know I can't trust the government to tell its citizens the truth, this beggars belief that they now expect me to accept there is some sort of terrorist plans at the same time there are problems at home with spying.

    To say on one hand that intelligence gathering is damaged by Snowden while giving away how they are aware of terrorist plans is mind boggling in the expectation to be believed.

    What it tells me, is the two level justice system is in place and alive and well. Snowden's head is wanted to revealing that there are spy programs going on that the government officials lied their asses off under oath about. Yet when the government reveals it, all is ok.

    Yah, I got a real problem with just accepting the official line anymore. Problem is this now extends to all government functions and not just the spying issues. The total creditability has been damaged and it will take some doing to ever repair it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Rob, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re:

    Assuming, of course, that the whole thing wasn't completely made up by the US Government for whatever reason, the "bad guys" just my have done as you said.

    [T]hey might well have an insecure conference call just for the laughs.

    So where's the real attack? That was it. And it worked.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Oscar Cannington, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 12:56pm

    al-Qaeda *is* the NSA..or actually, the CIA. We created them in 1979 to use against the Russians, we shipped them into Bosnia, used them as 9/11 scapegoats, pretended they were in any country we wished to attack, now we're arming them in Syria and giving them military contracts in Afghanistan.

    Yes, al-Qaeda is there any time the Police State needs a bogey man or antagonist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    New Mexico Mark, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    The phrase "trust, but verify" has often been used by government entities about citizens. It's primary application should be by citizens toward their government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    They collected too much data and just now got to the calls made in August of 2001.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    LivingInNavarre (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re:

    Remember playing that old game with the big soft mallet caleed "Whack A Mole"?!?!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    velox (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: The one goal of terrorism

    "cowardice was taken advantage of by a small group of powerful people in US government and industry to advance their own anti-American agenda
    Yes. The American public is told by those who stand to benefit that cowardice is the only reasonable response to terrorism, and it appears their strategy of intoning "Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid" (repeated 'soberly') does pay handsome dividends - both in profits and power.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 1:23pm

    Tail wags dog

    And people wonder how the dead dog's tail is wagging...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    False flag

    Could the US government be planning a false flag attack on itself?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Dirkmaster (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Yeah, if you believe ANY of this

    what the NSA says, the terror plots, ANY of it, I have some coastal property I'd like you to buy sight unseen in Arizona.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    NSA headlines

    At the next Congress meeting:
    "Snowden aided terrorist: Proof showing our hand enables terrorists"

    For Generation Millenium:
    "We've always been at war with terrorism!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Wolfy, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Re:one goal of terrorism

    Fear paralyzes both thought and action.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Ben (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Conference Calls Are Destroying The World!

    The particular conference call was probably a VOIP call, and that makes it worse because it was ... on the internet!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 3:19pm

    Re:

    One problem is that they will just say that this is all legal and proper and open, cause it's 'over there'. No one said ANYTHING about 'over here'...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re: Conference Calls Are Destroying The World!

    Can you hear me now?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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