So, there’s national news floating around about a “specific, credible but unconfirmed” terrorist threat against the US, scheduled to coincide with the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.
I found out about it this morning, when my significant other received several very urgent text messages regarding her safety. “Avoid bridges and tunnels”, she was told. She didn’t think much of it, and neither did I. We live in DC, these kinds of rumors crop up… well basically all the time.
Then, while at work, I get a charming email from security regarding the threat. It’s so thick with terminology that the words themselves could probably be used as load bearing devices. I was treated to some truly lovely bits of doublespeak. Lets go over some examples:
“enhanced visible security” – English translation: Putting some more cops on the street.
Oh! And they “are monitoring developments with this latest threat stream very closely” thank goodness! Umm… by the way? What on earth is a “Threat Stream”? This isn’t a Clancy novel. Grow up and USE REAL WORDS. You can tell us you’re keeping tabs on things without sounding like an idiot.
Look, sorry, that was snide. I get that you’re trying to do your job, and that we have to take security seriously. After all, this is a major possible attack by a large and well funded group, right?
Wait? It’s three guys?
Oh, sorry, three guys and a truck full of explosives. Well that does sound pretty…
Hang on, you’ve confirmed that they haven’t entered the US yet?
So…. it’s three hypothetical guys in a hypothetical truck filled with hypothetical explosives?
Why is this national news? Why are you emailing me to warn me of all this HYPOTHETICAL danger?
Some people may gawk in awe when you use multi-syllable words and nod their head seriously, but let’s point out a relavant detail here:
A senior federal law enforcement official intimately involved in counterterrorism efforts told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King authorities “aren’t sure if this is or real or just chatter.”
So… it’s a rumor. It’s a rumor that’s been turned into national news.
Do you know what this is? This is the entire intelligence industry covering their asses in case something actually happens. What they’re saying in INSULTINGLY obtuse language is “We’re not saying that anything’s going to happen, but if it does, we totally knew about it.”
It’s embarrassing. It makes us look stupid, and it makes us look like a bunch of cringing cowards shouting shrilly at shadows. The DHS is fueling a media frenzy, basically, because anti-americans are talking smack about the US on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary online. So, people in forums are threatening us? Dear DHS, do you know what the internet is? They’re trolling you. They’re trolling you and you’re too stupid to understand what that even means.
So let’s go back to that first line, the pull quote that’s flooded the internet: “specific, credible but unconfirmed”. Sounds really weighty doesn’t it, super important, right?
Specific – Terrorists are going to blow up the Hoover Dam
Credible – They will do this using a truck driving over the damn with a shape-charged explosive in the bed of the truck, constructed from household materials. Three “outrider” vehicles will approach the damn at the same time and create a security incident, the truck will use this distraction to get on the dam unchallenged.
Unconfirmed – OBVIOUSLY, since I just made it up right now, while typing this.
“specific, credible but unconfirmed” – The last word is the important word here. “specific, credible but unconfirmed” is a fancy way of saying “rumor”, it’s a fancy way of saying “bullshit”. Look I could be wrong (I certainly hope I’m not), but at least I have the spine to say this without using an epic series of weasel words:
This threat is bullshit, and we’re doing what the terrorists want us to do: Be terrified.
Articles like this one are spot on about the problem with modern “Anti-terror” efforts. I completely agree with Ben Hammersley when he says:
the phrase “security precautions” has become a synonym for “pointless annoying thing to do because politicians are either stupid or oppresive”.
Well it’s time to put a stop to this. On the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, it’s time for ALL of us to put a stop to it. When scare tactics like these are used, call bullshit. Do it regularly, do it loudly, and do it publicly. Keep doing it until the “intelligence community” shuts up and starts making sense again.