Report: al Qaeda sends terror cell to U.S.

ABC News’s “The Blotter” — which previously reported that intelligence officials have picked up indications, similar to pre-9/11 chatter, that terrorists are planning a “spectacular” attack against the U.S. over the summer — is now reporting this:

Senior U.S. intelligence officials tell ABC News new intelligence suggests a small al Qaeda cell is on its way to the United States, or may already be here.

The White House has convened an urgent multi-agency meeting for Thursday afternoon to deal with the new threat.

Top intelligence and law enforcement officials have been told to assemble in the Situation Room to report on:

–what steps can be taken to minimize or counter the threat,

–and what steps are being taken to harden security for government buildings and personnel.

“It suggests they have information that the cell or cells coming this direction want to attack a government facility,” Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and ABC News consultant, said.

Law enforcement officials say the recent failed attacks in London have provided important new clues about possible tactics.

And officials say the London attackers use of the Internet left important clues that are being used to decode other e-mails that had initially been deemed unimportant but are now taking on new significance.

A senior administration official said the level of concern of a new terror attack is now higher than it has been in some time, and the meeting this week in the situation room is one of a number that have been convened in light of the new intelligence and what happened in London.

I have a couple of questions.

First, if this is really such an “urgent” threat, why are they meeting on Thursday afternoon? Today is Tuesday.

And second, if they’re going to “assemble in the Situation Room,” shouldn’t someone alert Wolf Blitzer? :)

P.S. According to commenter “shirley” on The Blotter, this is a “transparent” attempt to distract us from the David Vitter sex scandal. Yeah, I’m just sure. Saving Louisiana’s junior senator from public embarrassment is a really high priority for our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies.

Alas, many other comments are along the same lines (albeit with slightly more plausible theories regarding what they’re trying to distract us from), which is an indictment of both the Far Left’s lunacy and the Bush Administration’s failure to earn the trust of the American people.

P.P.S. Lunacy is not restricted to the Left, of course. Many of the non-conspiracy-minded commenters are calling for us to close our borders completely in response to the threat. As “Jennifer” puts it: “I’m sorry, but the only people who should be allowed in the United States are people who are born in the United States. Drastic times call for drastic measures.”

Conspiracy-mongering nut jobs versus xenophobic wackos. This is political discourse in America in the year 2007. *sigh*

UPDATE: The Blotter’s earlier report about the fear of an attack this summer, previously unconfirmed by U.S. officials, is now being confirmed, at least by Michael Chertoff’s “gut”:

U.S. counterterror officials are warning of an increased risk of an attack this summer, given al-Qaida’s apparent interest in summertime strikes and increased al-Qaida training in the Afghan-Pakistani border region.

On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the editorial board of The Chicago Tribune that he had a “gut feeling” about a new period of increased risk.

He based his assessment on earlier patterns of terrorists in Europe and intelligence he would not disclose.

“Summertime seems to be appealing to them,” Chertoff said in his discussion with the newspaper about terrorists. “We worry that they are rebuilding their activities.”

Other U.S. counterterrorism officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, shared Chertoff’s concern and said that al-Qaida and like-minded groups have been able to plot and train more freely in the tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border in recent months. Osama bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are believed to be hiding in the rugged region.

“The threat coming out of there is very real, even if there aren’t a lot of specifics attached to it,” one of the officials said.

Here’s a partial transcript of the referenced Chicago Tribune interview, and here’s the Tribune article about it.

21 Responses to “Report: al Qaeda sends terror cell to U.S.”

  1. Brendan Loy says:

    Yeah. But what would that make the close-our-borders-to-all-non-citizens? MDS? (Mexico Derangement Syndrome?)

  2. Brendan Loy says:

    P.S. The Vitter theory is funny, but it’ll never top the BEST EVER conspiracy theory, that the U.K. liquid-explosives plot was cooked up to distract from Ned Lamont’s victory in the Connecticut Senate primary.

    Of course, that liquid-explosives plot was overblown. But I don’t think that was the reason… :)

  3. Alasdair says:

    Hmmmm … liquid-explosives plot versus Vitter ? I wonder which was more bang for the buck ?

    (innocent grin)

  4. anonymous says:

    As this information is not being widely reported, I cannot claim to know how serious the threat is at this time. However, in the past few years many threats have been waaay overblown for reasons I will not speculate about. The two that come to immediate memory are the supposed plot to blow up the Sears Tower and the recent plot against JFK airport. The people apprehended in both cases were nowhere near being able to carry out any kind of attack, let alone spectacular attempts of this nature and the public pronouncements of law enforcement officials and media types in both cases are what lead to the distrust of authority figures in this country today.

  5. Brendan Loy says:

    Yes, that’s true. In fact, I blogged extensively about the impossibility of the JFK plot. Those previous “overblown” threats are partly what I had in mind when I said the conspiracy-mongering os “both an indictment of both the Far Left’s lunacy and the Bush Administration’s failure to earn the trust of the American people.” Perhaps I should have been a bit broader than “the Bush Administration,” though. As you point out, it has sometimes been state and local officials that have done the “overblowing.”

    (“The media,” yeah, OK, sometimes, but in reality, the media is inevitably going to be rather reactive in reporting the initial details of these sorts of “plots” — it’s not like the New York Times or CNN have their own NSA or FBI working undercover to find out about these plots in advance, so when the government first announces or leaks them, the initial reports are always going to be significantly reliant on the “official line.” Where the media should be faulted is where they fail to correct the record once it becomes clear, later on, that the initial pronouncements were overblown.)

    In any event, healthy skepticism of government pronouncements is always warranted, but cynical (and downright silly) conspiracy-mongering is still ridiculous. Never ascribe to conspiracy or malice what be explained by incompetence and obvious everyday bureaucratic motivations: of course the officials who unravel these “plots” are going to want to puff their chests our and claim lots of credit, perhaps exaggerating things a bit in the process; and of course everybody is going to spin the worst-case scenario when describing possibly-still-active threats, for simple CYA (Cover Your Ass) reasons. They’re in a no-win situation, really: if they warn us and nothing happens, people say they’re crying wolf, but if they don’t warn us, or they don’t make the threat sound urgent, and then something does happen, people will say, “Why didn’t you warn us? Why didn’t you emphasize how serious a threat this was? You KNEW about this, and you DID NOTHING!” And some will even cry conspiracy at that point. “WHAT DID BUSH KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT???” Sound familiar?

    All that said, there has been an overabundance of wolf-crying. I’m just saying that doesn’t justify the conspiracy b.s., especially the ridiculous nonsense like the Vitter theory (heh).

  6. Joe Loy says:

    DAMMitall! And here I had just finished Tweaking my Draft David Vitter commentpost :) to the Presidential Competence thread! ~ mindful that there had Apparently been no previous Reference to the blockbuster Vitter story (what’ll ya do with That one now, Alasdair? :) on The Blog. Now you’ve gone and Link-scooped me. Again. Whaddaya, think you Own this place or something? :)

    Waal gol-durn it, ah dint come awl this way jes’ t’ drop this thang in th’ drank! (Apologies to Major T.J. “King” Kong :) Ah’m a-gonna post it HERE! Howdjya like THEM apples! :>

    * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    “Commenters should feel free…to question any of my basic assumptions, so long as they do it with facts and logical argumentation rather than pejoratives…”

    All right then, you procrastinating flibbertigibbet :), why don’tcha just join me in jettisoning All of your ridiculously moronic assumptions ;> and forming the Committee to Draft David Vitter ;]. After all, as That column attests, the distinguished Republican Senator from Louisiana has already demonstrated executive Competence at being in Undisclosed locations; and as This article notes, the N’awlins homefolks support him, e.g.,

    Others drew comparisons with former President Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky…in commenting on Vitter’s actions.

    “I’m glad he went to a professional instead of an intern,” said Ed Buchanan, a 63-year-old recorder of mortgages and a registered Democrat.

    Furthermore as Forbes implies, America’s Mayor (being a great man for the Family Values :) may soon be Dumping poor Dave as his Southern Regional Chairman (!!! :), so the Senator could have some time (albeit nothing Else :) on his hands & might be Spoiling for revenge against the puritanical Rudy ;>. Plus, here we could get another Activist 2-for-the-price-of-1 First Lady! ~

    Vitter and his wife, Wendy, live in Metairie, La., with their four children.

    In 2000, Wendy Vitter told Newhouse News Service she could not be as forgiving as [Loosiana Repub ex-Congressman Bob ] Livingston’s wife or Hillary Clinton.

    “I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary,” she said. “If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”

    As you know, I have long held that tawdry Gossipcolumn “news stories” about people’s Private lives have no place whatsoever in serious political discourse regarding their qualifications for Public office, which is why I am multiply Linking to This one and proposing Vitter for President to punctuate my Point. ;]

  7. Joe Loy says:

    Yeah; but good job the recent UK Doctors’ Plot ordnance was highly Underblown.

  8. SoDamn Insane says:

    The DC Madam is putting out her entire list of phone records. I imagine the Bushies aren’t worried about Vitter…

  9. Joe Loy says:

    re the Update: I wouldn’t suppose that the rather cadaverous Homeland Security Secretary has actually Got much of a Gut, but Still: that Is rather unsettling. :|

  10. Sören says:

    Dear people, your discussion is all fine and well, but, I am sorry, drastic times call for drastic measures. I think we need to go one better than even “Jennifer,” and would therefore suggest that we in fact kick out of the country anybody not born here. USA! USA! USA!

    (oh . . . wait . . . nuts!!)

    8P

  11. Andrew says:

    Personally I find the local controversy over LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa far more entertaining than the Vitter crap.

  12. Alasdair says:

    Andrew – agreed – seems he may be asked to give back part of his name as part of the divorce …

    He’ll have to get all his official stationery reprinted, poor soul …

  13. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Andrew-

    The difference between what Villaraigosa has done and what Vitter did is that having an affair isn’t a crime. Hiring a prostitute is.

  14. Sandy Underpants says:

    All the Vitter thing proves is that Republicans are the same as everyone else. Which is only embarrassing when that is proven to Republicans.

    As for the terror-threat, I think it’s strange that ABC reports this and then the DoHS says ABC is making it up, then three days later the DoHS says there is alarming chatter, then they call an emergency meeting and then Chertoff says he has a “gut” feeling terror strikes will happen because terrorists love the summertime.

    My feeling is that maybe Jerkoff watches ABC news. I guess nobody watches the meaningless color coded terror threat level, because that hasn’t increased. We shall see. I say we get bombed, because I’m a pessimist.

  15. Alasdair says:

    A&A – ummm – and your proof that Vitter hired a prostitute is *what* ?

    As far as I know, even under a Democratic Congress, having your phone number on a Washington, DC lady’s phone records isn’t a crime … yet …

  16. Andrew says:

    Sandy, since when did the GOP ever claim to be a party free of philanderers? I think the fact that Republicans are actually ashamed of their affairs speaks well for them — as opposed to philandering Democrats who have no shame and don’t consider marital vows to be worth much. All the Vitter thing tells us is that Republicans have higher standards for themselves than Democrats.

    A&A, I’m not commenting on the criminal aspects of either case, merely the entertainment value. Seeing Mayor Vivalaraza squirm when asked about his affair is priceless — especially when he is expressing confidence that Telemundo will find that Mirthala Salinas did not breach professional ethics by boinking the mayor while covering him for the TV station. Of course, Salinas has nothing on this TV reporter when it comes to journalistic ethics breaches.

  17. Joe Loy says:

    “…Mayor Vivalaraza…”

    LOL! :)

    On the Other hand, we insatiable old Watergate junkies are always most Entertained whenever They release a new installment from the inexhaustible archive of Nixon Tapes ;). Which, glory be, They just did. :] Yes, now we get to hear The Trickydick ranting that McGovern is “a prick” (!) :>. Then, deliciously, we get to See McGovern, alive & presumably pricking ;}, laughing his Pink old ass off at the very Honor of the thing. HEE HEE HEE! :)

  18. Alasdair says:

    Andrew – do you think that she was covering him ? Or was he covering her ? More of the time, that is ?

  19. Andrew says:

    Alasdair, I don’t know, but I can guess where she hid her microphone when she was under(the)cover(s)….

  20. Sandy Underpants says:

    You MAY be a Republican if you can argue that hiring prostitutes and being ashamed of it proves a person has higher standards than someone who cheats on their wife with someone they first had a personal relationship with.

    Oh brother.