“I remember distinctly an image of–we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant, and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.”
-David Brooks on Obama, NYTimes columnist, October 2008
Broad Terror Alret Mystifies Experts, 'It's Crazy Pants' One Says.
"...If ordinary Americans are confused, they’re in good company. Analysts who’ve devoted their careers to studying al Qaida and U.S. counterterrorism strategy can’t really make sense of it, either. There’s general agreement that the diffuse list of potential targets has to do with either specific connections authorities are tracking, or places that might lack the defenses to ward off an attack. Beyond that, however, even the experts are stumped.
"Take this sampling of reactions from prominent al Qaida observers:
“'It’s crazy pants – you can quote me,' said Will McCants, a former State Department adviser on counterterrorism 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
“I’m not going to argue that it’s not willy-nilly, but it’s hard for me to come down too critical because I simply don’t know their reasoning,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counterterrorism specialist at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington research institute..."
The crucial intercept that prompted the U.S. government to close embassies in 22 countries was a conference call between al Qaeda’s senior leaders and representatives of several of the group’s affiliates throughout the region.
[...] Lake points out that al Qaeda thought its conference calls were secure, but now that the Obama administration is disclosing that we’re listening in on them, the terrorists will stop using them. Ditto the courier that we’ve disclosed intercepting. So we’ve jeopardized a potential gold mine of intelligence.
The conference calls do point toward central al Qaeda control and management of its far-flung affiliates, which is something the Obama administration has insisted is not happening after Osama bin Laden’s demise. They’ll probably go on insisting that it’s not happening. They’ll insist that “core al Qaeda” is still on the run, despite the fact that its conference call caused the Obama administration to go on the run from embassies across about a quarter of the planet, more or less.
Long-time intel hands are looking at the closures and
evacuations ordered departures as a “crazy pants” move. Disclosing the fact that the US had tapped into al Qaeda’s “Legion of Doom” conference call is just as crazy pants.