Terrorism and Important DatesObviously, although there is no smoking-gun proof yet that the government had, or should have had, "credible information" about any of these attacks, in retrospect the memo is an embarrassing reminder of how the United States and its overseas embassies were caught flat-footed on Tuesday. The phrasing of the last sentence of the memo ("these concerns are the result of increased media attention to the issue, rather than credible evidence" [emphasis mine]) could have even inspired complacency with its rather glib assessment of the potential threat.
OSAC currently has no credible information to suggest that al-Qa'ida or any other terrorist group is plotting any kind of attack overseas to coincide with the upcoming anniversary of September 11. However, constituents often have concerns around important dates, holidays, and major events, Often times, these concerns are the result of increased media attention to the issue, rather than credible evidence of a terrorist plot.
There is now evidence that someone at the State Department drew the same conclusion about the memo, because as of today, it is no longer listed on the OSAC website. Here is a Google cache version from September 8, 2012 of the list of reports [Update 9/29-The Google cache at that link has since been updated, so the screen capture below of the 9/8 cache is the only version now available.] in question:
Note that the Terrorism and Important Dates memo is listed after Major Events Monthly (July/August 2012) and before Cyber Awareness Bulletin: September 6, 2012. Now here is the current version of that page as of Friday, September 14, 2012:
This time, note that although there are three new entries, there is nothing listed in between Major Events Monthly (July/August 2012) and Cyber Awareness Bulletin: September 6, 2012. The Terrorism and Important Dates memo is gone. Advancing the list to include more and older entries yields no results, either. A Google search for "Terrorism and Important Dates" on the website returns four hits, but the memo cannot be found by clicking on any of them. All have been updated and no longer contain the memo or any reference to it.
The only other explanation for its disappearance is that the memo has been placed behind the subscriber wall of the website. Clicking on the link for "Terrorism and Important Dates"in the cached version of the reports page simply brings up the logon page for subscribers. However, this scenario seems unlikely because the memo is no longer listed in a publicly accessible menu as it was on Thursday and all the preceding days since its publication on the 6th, so unless users already had the original link to the memo, they would not even know of its existence.
I have emailed the OSAC for an explanation of the missing memo. Given the retractions and deletions that have already marked this whole series of events, the admittedly conspiracy-theory-sounding explanation seems the most persuasive. Until I receive a reply or the State Department issues a public statement, this latest disappearance will maintain an understandably sinister air about it.
Note (added 9/28): Here is more on what is apparently the full OSAC report from 9/6.
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UPDATE: It turns out Rush Limbaugh mentioned the original story on his show on Thursday (9/14):
RUSH: This is interesting. There's an organization called OSAC. It's the State Department's Overseas Advisory Council. OSAC. The State Department Overseas Advisory Council, five days before the attacks in Libya and Egypt, sent a memo everywhere declaring there was no threat. "OSAC currently has no credible information to suggest that Al-Qaeda or any other terror group is plotting any kind of attack overseas to coincide with the upcoming anniversary of 9/11."UPDATE 2: Please note: While I appreciate the coverage this post has received by other bloggers, I want to emphasize what I said in the penultimate paragraph above: "The only other explanation for its disappearance is that the memo has been placed behind the subscriber wall of the website." I do not have definitive proof that the report is completely scrubbed, only that it's gone from the menu of reports where it had been listed prior to 9/14. I am not a subscriber, nor does it appear that I would qualify to subscribe in order to verify whether or not the report is still accessible to subscribers. I have taken to emailing the OSAC daily to try to elicit a response, but so far to no avail. Until a subscriber can log on and provide verification one way or the other, or until the OSAC responds to my emails or makes a public statement, the disappearance from the publicly accessible menu remains suspicious to me.
They had no clue. The State Department had no clue, and now these things have erupted all over the region -- and the focus now is America.
UPDATE 3: Rush Limbaugh mentioned this story on his show on Thursday based on the Gateway Pundit report which was in turn based on my original 9/12 and 9/14 posts. I have commented on Rush's comments in a new post on 9/28.