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

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?

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

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

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Andy (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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

Michael (profile) says:

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.

sorrykb says:

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.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

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.

Applesauce says:

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.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

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.

velox (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Oscar Cannington says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...