WASHINGTON (AP) - Top U.S. officials met Saturday to review the threat of a terrorist attack that led to the weekend closure of 21 U.S. embassies and consulates in the Muslim world and a global travel warning to Americans. President Barack Obama was briefed following the session, the White House said.There are hints. There are innuendos. There are inferences. But when all is said and done, there is no there there -- no concrete details from which those who are allegedly endangered might gauge the danger. The implication seems to be, "Trust me ... you need to be afraid." This tactic has worked well for Republicans and now seems to be useful to Democrats as well. Or ... maybe there really is some danger. Maybe there really is a monster under the bed.
The State Department's warning urged U.S. travelers to take extra precautions overseas. It cited potential dangers involved with public transportation systems and other prime sites for tourists, and noted that previous attacks have centered on subway and rail networks as well as airplanes and boats.This sounds serious. But its seriousness is not supported by concrete evidence -- the particular facts that led to the wide-net warning. Naturally, those issuing in the warning refuse to give those who might be frightened any details because that might reveal secret sources that needed to remain secret.
I'm not saying it's baseless and I'm not saying it's warranted. I am saying that the warning warms up my questioning bullshit-o-meter and comes at an auspicious time for the National Security Agency and other departments whose ever-increasing secret activities have recently come under fire. How warming to think that our secret operatives can work on our behalf ... and wouldn't you like them to keep doing that ... preferably without questions or criticisms? Oh, and by the way, doesn't this kind of thing prove why men like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden deserve a traitor's label for having divulged so much secret information?
Be afraid! Be compliant! Don't look under the bed!
That is all you need to know.
Or is it?
The most effective and compelling fear is always the one that lacks detail.