Today a virtually unprecedented event took place. Throughout North Africa and the Middle East nearly two dozen US embassies are closed because of the threat of a terrorist attack. Some of these will remain closed until late next week.
Officials shuttered 22 U.S. embassies and consulates for the day on Sunday amid fears of an al Qaeda attack. On Sunday afternoon, the State Department said it had extended embassy and consulate closures in 15 of the locations until Friday and added four other posts to the list.
If true, this is a damning indictment of the decline of our abilities to protect US interests. We have apparently let our ability to conduct direct action atrophy to the point that we can acquire sufficient intelligence to indicate when and where attacks will take place but we are powerless to stop them or to convince the host governments to take action. We are left with the rather bizarre alternative of letting the world know that we have penetrated the clandestine communications network of al Qaeda in the hope that al Qaeda will not attack. Say what you will about George Bush, this type of cowering under the bed did not take place on his watch.
Some 750 years ago, an English friar, William of Ockham, proposed an interesting heuristic for solving problems of logic and natural science. When presented with several explanations, he said, one should favor the answer with the fewest possible assumptions. The simple answer, he reasoned, was more likely to be true than a complex solution.
Ockham's Razor compels me to call bull**** on this particular terrorism alert and to offer a simpler explanation: that this threat to our embassies simply does not exist.
The only evidence proffered in defense of this ridiculous exercise at playing Chicken Little is the word of the Administration. I, for one, can think of nothing this bunch of cretins and incompetents has done that makes their word credible.
Rather than looking at some cosmic, epic, and existential threat that requires some embassies to shut down for one day... are the jihadis really going to say, "gee, I showed up for my martyrdom mission on Sunday and no one was there so I'm going home?" ... we should look for something much more simple.
After Edward Snowden's attempted defection to Communist China and actual defection to neo-Tsarist Russia and the accompanying revelations of what the NSA has been up to, there has been immense pressure on the Administration to place limits on the activities of the NSA. The secretive FISA Court is under attack by even Senate Democrats. Many questions are being asked about what communications the NSA intercepts, how those decisions are made, and how the product is safe guarded. To date all evidence indicates the NSA makes up these rules as it goes along.
What better way to put an end to this rising tide of concern about civil liberties than to have the NSA suddenly develop intelligence that causes 22 US embassies to close for a day or a week. There, they seem to be saying, doesn't your silly concern about your rights as citizens and the danger to the republic unsupervised eavesdropping constitutes seem small and petty against THIS HUGE THREAT?
The Administration may actually be worried about national security. That would be a welcome change from its actions since taking office in 2009. To date the focus of the Administration has been on destroying our credibility with our with allies, making us look ridiculous to our enemies, and seemingly missing no chance to reduce American influence in the world.
A more cynical observer would posit that the political leadership of the NSA is abusing its ability to monitor communications in the same way that the IRS abused its ability to review the status of non-profits and the Obama Administration wants to retain the ability to abuse its power to punish its opponents.
The bottom line is that the only evidence there that a threat actually exists is the Administration's word. That requires us to ignore the entire history of the Obama regime. On the other hand, the Administration has shown it will instinctively lie to protect itself and the attention direct at the NSA is a threat to the ability of Obama to operate without concern for the rule of law. Logic says they are lying.