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Real Global Terror Alert or NSA-Justifying Scare Tactic?

So as of last Sunday the US State Dept. closed down 19 foreign embassies and facilities in North Africa and the Middle East due to an ongoing “terror alert” begun last Friday based on what Thomas Gaist in "US officials cite deadly drone strike in Yemen to defend NSA spying operations" reports US officials call a "need to exercise caution.” Gaist declares this a “euphemistic way of saying the government does not have credible, specific evidence to offer to the public.”

Is it really about caution or a dramatic propaganda operation to rattle the American people, many of whom refuse to condemn Edward Snowden as a spy or traitor and believe the NSA has jumped the shark to criminality on a massive scale. Nothing like some government generated ghostly “war on terror” 9-11 threats to shake the citizenry from a critical thinking mode about the present administration’s cover-ups of its intelligence agencies' criminality and our country's drifting to police state fascism.

Gaist reveals the diplomatic posts that have been closed down include those in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Algiers, Basrah, Baghdad, Cairo, Riyadh, Dhahran, Dhaka, Jeddah, Doha, Dubai, Kabul, Kuwait City, Manama, Muscat, Sanaa, Tripoli and nine other cities and that the State Dept.’s global travel alert will extend to the end of August.

Gaist writes:

The question that must be raised is: What is the US government planning? There is a real danger that a provocation is being prepared by forces within the state so as to provide the pretext for an expansion of US military aggression in the Middle East, an intensification of the assault on democratic rights within the US, or both.

It cannot be excluded that the government itself is preparing to use a terrorist incident as a pretext for new attacks on democratic rights....


Western media continue to report that the terror alert is in response to the interception of communications between top Al Qaeda leaders Ayman al Zawahiri in Pakistan and Nasir al-Wuhayshi of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The BBC cited a high-level security source claiming that Yemeni intelligence services discovered Al Qaeda fighters preparing for large attacks against Western and US targets.

There has been scattered criticism and questioning of the terror scare from elements within the political establishment. Former US ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros John Price told he did not understand why the threat in Yemen had been “so much in the public eye.”

“We’ve had threats, but never went to the media with them, and we didn’t deal with it the way it’s being dealt with today,” said Price. “The embassies that they’ve closed at random in Africa don’t make any sense to me.”

Amie Stepanovich of the Electronic Privacy Information Center made similar comments to the Guardian, expressing skepticism about the NSA’s decision to go public with this particular threat information. “The NSA’s choice to publish these threats at this time,” she said, “perpetuates a culture of fear and unquestioning deference to surveillance in the United States… The NSA takes in threat information every day. You have to ask, why now? What makes this information different?”

It is obvious that the terror threat is being used to intimidate and dissipate popular opposition to the NSA’s Big Brother spy programs and popular support for Snowden, who has been smeared by the government as a traitor and spy and who faces prosecution for espionage, should Washington succeed in capturing him and bringing him back to the US. Despite weeks of attacks on Snowden and endless official statements on the threat of terrorism and the need for spy programs that capture every telephone call and email of every American, opinion polls have shown continuing majority opposition to the NSA operations and majority support for Snowden.

Gaist in "US extends global terror alert" points out that there are also many Democrat and Republican "talking-point hammering" politicians who are using this terror alert for “supposed justification” for the NSA’s illegitimately sweeping eavesdropping and data collection programs.


With absolute cynicism, the congressional stooges of the military and intelligence agencies are talking up the terror threat and using it to defend the NSA spying programs.

“The good news is we picked up the intelligence,” said Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland. “And that’s what we do. That’s what the NSA does.”

“They’re able to listen in and hear what’s going on,” said Charles Shumer [sic], Democratic Senator from New York. “They all have disrupted many, many, many terrorist plots and let’s hope they’re disrupting this one, as well.”

“I think we are re-learning or re-emphasizing that security is absolutely essential in our society,” said Democratic Senator of Connecticut Richard Blumenthal.

“The NSA program is proving its worth yet again,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that ongoing terrorist “chatter” is “very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11.”

Gaist, again:

Politicians and terrorism “experts” were quick to seize on the drone killings in Yemen on Tuesday as supposed proof of the efficacy and necessity of the mass surveillance programs. John McCain, Republican senator from Arizona, warned CBS News in an interview that, “to abandon some of the practices that have proven to be successful in countering Al Qaeda, well, would be a very serious mistake.”

John McLaughlin of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said intelligence acquired on Al Qaeda activities in Yemen showed the value of the surveillance programs: ‘‘This is not pat-a-cake,’’ McLaughlin said. ‘‘You need every trick in the book.”

Gaist declares that such leading lawmakers seem to have no problem with the “imposition of a police state” in America..

The media is ever willing and ready to spread alarmist reports of terrorism without questioning the likelihood of the political motivations to scare the American public into justifying NSA’s criminal activity against our fourth amendment Gaist insists.


In an editorial published Tuesday, the New York Times gave its stamp of approval to the terror scare, calling the decision to launch a global terror alert “reasonable” and “difficult to quarrel with.” The Times, along with the rest of the media, proceeds—dishonestly and hypocritically—as though the use of government lies to justify the invasion of Iraq and the rampant lying about the NSA spying programs had never happened.

Gaist adds that there is growing upset over the war in Afghanistan as well as the economic crises reaching more and more Americans. Five years after the crash of 2008 the US economy is still deteriorating while profits for the top one percent continuously balloon.

WH Press Secretary Jay Carney, Gaist contends, has been giving “vague and contradictory descritions of the terrorist threat.” Gaist quotes Carney:

“I cannot shed light on what has generated this particular threat … I don’t have any specific information to provide to you about this particular threat and what it’s related to.”


At an airborne press “gaggle” en route to Phoenix, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took questions from reporters, but continued the White House’s refusal to offer any evidence to corroborate its claims of terror threats. Not a single piece of concrete evidence has been produced to back up the government’s assertions that US facilities abroad and perhaps within the US face an imminent threat of attack by Al Qaeda-linked forces. The substance of the supposed threat likewise remains completely vague, with government sources admitting they have no information on a specific target or time of attack.

Nevertheless, the government’s claims are being reported by the media as unchallengeable fact and are being used by politicians of both parties to justify the massive and illegal National Security Agency (NSA) spying operations exposed over the past two months by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Despite his JUSTIFIED cynicism Gaist warns that considering what the United States has done to create terrorist enemies abroad, the threat of terrorism against the US should not be ruled out either.


The possibility of a new terror attack cannot, of course, be ruled out. US foreign policy, based on violence and threats against the populations of the Middle East and Central Asia, support for oil despots in the region, and backing for Israeli oppression of the Palestinians creates fertile soil for terrorist groups. Yemen, which is being pointed to as the center of the supposed new threat, has been targeted for US drone missile strikes for years that have killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Three such strikes have occurred over the past several weeks.

President Obama personally approved drone missile strikes in Yemen that killed three US citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki, Samir Khan, and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki


A new terror attack on the US cannot be ruled out. US foreign policy, including drone killings of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, provokes outrage and indignation within these populations, providing fertile ground for terrorist organizations to recruit. A study conducted at Columbia Law School in October of 2012 found that up to 98 percent of those killed by drone strikes in Pakistan have been civilians.

The dropping of more drone missiles on Yemen can only further inflame popular anger and hatred and create conditions in which the lives of Americans are placed in jeopardy.


The Marib strike is the latest of at least four drone strikes launched by the US against Yemen since July 28. The US is known to have bombarded targets in Yemen with twelve missile strikes so far this year, following a total of forty strikes in 2012. At least 24 children under the age of 18 have been killed by US strikes against Yemen.

CBS News reported Tuesday evening that a Naval reconnaissance plane was hovering over Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, for much of the day, suggesting that Washington is planning to intensify its attacks on the country.

Gaist is troubled by the lack of communication ever from the “political establishment”, whether during Bush's or now Obama's regime, to the American people on the nature of the terrorist threats since and including 9/11/01. Gaist explains that the FBI and CIA have claimed to have been tracking many of those alleged perpetrators of the attacks and threatened attacks. If the alleged perpetrators were well known to the FBI and CIA, had been monitored supposedly by them for months, then why weren’t their efforts thwarted?


From 9/11, to the abortive attempt of a Nigerian national to blow up a commercial jet over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, to the Boston Marathon bombing, the alleged perpetrators were under US surveillance and yet were able to carry out their attacks or attempted attacks.

Gaist is extremely troubled by what happened in Boston 4 months ago. The city was placed in “military-police lockdown ... while riot police roamed through private homes without warrants. Public transportation was halted and a ‘shelter in place’ order was issued confining residents to their homes.”

Gaist also emphasizes that since Boston’s lockdown, major US cities such as LA and Chicago have been exposed to “urban warfare drills” subjecting residents to “the presence of militarized police forces” along with the sights of military helicopters and armored vehicles.

Gaist accuses the Obama administration and politicians on both sides of the aisle of willfully cultivating a “climate of fear” just as the Bush/Cheney administration did “to facilitate a massive assault on democratic rights and the buildup of a police state apparatus.”

I don’t know about you but right now I am more terrified of what my government is doing than the specter of "terrorists"!

I don’t pretend there are not serious global terrorists who absolutely revile each one of us in America. The US government is mercilessly "manufacturing" terrorists every day with its own waves of mass terrorism, its predatory and violent imperialist strikes and wars, predatory enabling of faux-civil-wars in the name of “U.S. interests” which have nothing to do with humanity here or abroad, just more money, power and resources for the one percenter ruling class elites!

[cross-posted on open salon]

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Jay's picture
Submitted by Jay on

Clearly the NSA is blowing smoke. I wonder when Eric Holder will investigate the "traitor(s)" who conducted "espionage" by leaking this to the press? Next week? No? How about in September? Too soon? How about never? Yeah, I think that would work for Eric Holder too.

Also, not for nothing, but if Ayman al Zawahiri in Pakistan used electronic communications with Nasir al-Wuhayshi, any intelligence agency worth its salt would not reveal their knowledge of that under any circumstances. That's like showing your hand to everybody in a poker game. It's just not done.

jo6pac's picture
Submitted by jo6pac on

can think about when I see stuff like this is Wag the Dog.