By Brigitte L. Nacos
As I noted repeatedly in my blogs and in my previous post, when public officials overreact in their public statements to terrorist threats and plot warnings and the media hype these alarts, they play into the hands of terrorists. After all, these utterly weak actors want to be perceived as powerful players who scare the most powerful nation in the world.
Precisely that happened in the wake of the recent terrorist plot warnings and the closings of more than a dozen U.S. missions abroad. These are the opening lines from an article in today's New York Times:
"The gloating among jihadists and their sympathizers began last week, right after the United States shut down almost two dozen diplomatic posts across the Middle East in response to a terrorist threat.
'God is great! America is in a condition of terror and fear from Al Qaeda,' wrote one jihadist in an online forum. Another one rejoiced: 'The mobilization and security precautions are costing them billions of dollars. We hope to hear more of such psychological warfare, even if there are no actual jihadi operations on the ground.'”
Yes, these guys are well aware that they do not need to strike to engage and score points in their psychological warfare.
Washington's political class and the intelligence community should take this basic fact of the terrorist calculus into consideration when they go public with terrorism related information. And the mass media should as well. Inform the public, for sure. But do not overreact in words and deeds. And do not over-cover.