November 20, 2017

US State Department issues Europe travel alert

State Department issues terror alert in Europe. Did anyone tell them Europe has been on high alert for the last 10 months?

The United States issued a general travel alert for Americans in Europe on Sunday amid concerns that al Qaeda or related groups are planning attacks on civilian targets.

The U.S. State Department says “U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.” They went on to say “We continue to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including al Qaeda.”

In all such comunications from US government agencies they always feel the need to include al Qaeda at the end of a statement. It has become like a kind of full stop. Do they think that if they mention that al Qaeda might be involved then it suddenly gives their message more gravity and justifies any actions they are taking to counter these ‘threats’.

Surely it would be simpler to issue a blanket travel advisory for the whole world, then we could save millions on bureaucratic machinery required to keep churning out these warnings.

When does the warning stop being useful and start becoming a butt covering exercise should anything go wrong. After the September 11 attacks there has been an increasingly intense barrage of warnings that have amounted to nothing. Do they think that if they just keep warning, then if an attack happens then at least they have got it covered.

These are the “common-sense precautions” that American travellers are being advised to take by their governement as conveyed by Under-Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy “If they see unattended packages or hear loud noises or see something beginning to happen that they should quickly move away from them.” Well shit a brick with such wisdom on offer, US travellers can now face international travel with a renewed sense of optimism.

The warning urges them to be “cautious in public places like tourist sites and airports or while riding public transportation, and Americans should know how to contact the U.S. Embassy and consider registering their travel plans there.”

I bet the US Embassy staff around Europe love that statement. There are millions of Americans travelling around the world at any given moment. If they all decide to follow their governments advice and register their travel plans with the local US embassy then it is safe to say the staff won’t be getting their regular breaks for a few days.

News emerged last week that Western intelligence officials were looking at information about a possible “Mumbai-style” attack in cities across Europe, and a British security source said Saturday that intelligence related to such a plot was being looked at very seriously on both sides of the Atlantic.

Kennedy would not comment on specific intelligence that triggered the report, but said it followed a “cumulative” process. “We have been monitoring this carefully for at least several weeks,” he said. Just what ‘this’ is we are not allowed to know.

A U.S. official said Saturday that the alert was prompted by the volume of intelligence on possible terror threats, rather than any new intelligence. Ok so it is not a new threat it is just a bunch of old ones lumped together in a kind of ‘threat soup’?

White House, spokesman Nicholas Shapiro then says “From the day we became aware of this latest plot, the president made clear we need to do everything possible to disrupt this plot and protect the American people.” So there is a new plot? Ok I think it is time to stop there because they are tying themselves up in knots trying to say something about nothing.

What to tell the American travellers? Well most US tourists are loud, friendly and positive. So if their governments warning is to be heeded then they need to be quiet, suspicious and insecure.

Question: Why are governemnts always looking at intelligence without much success? Surely looking at stupidity is worth a go.