Further to Jason Leopold's commentary published earlier today on Scoop - opining that the latest terror alert from the US Department of Homeland Security (issued Sunday) was probably bogus, America's two leading newspapers have just published reports quoting senior officials saying that the information the alerts were based on is old and out of date.
From the Washington Post
Pre-9/11 Acts Led To Alerts
Officials Unsure Spying On Buildings Continued
From the Washington Post
By Dan Eggen and Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 3, 2004; Page A01
Most of the al Qaeda surveillance of five financial institutions that led to a new terrorism alert Sunday was conducted before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and authorities are not sure whether the casing of the buildings has continued since then, numerous intelligence and law enforcement officials said yesterday.
More than half a dozen government officials interviewed yesterday, who declined to be identified because classified information is involved, said that most, if not all, of the information about the buildings seized by authorities in a raid in Pakistan last week was about three years old, and possibly older.
"There is nothing right now that we're hearing that is new," said one senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the alert. "Why did we go to this level? . . . I still don't know that."
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From the New York Times
Reports That Led to Terror Alert Were Years Old, Officials Say
By DOUGLAS JEHL and DAVID JOHNSTON
Published: August 3, 2004
ASHINGTON, Aug. 2 -Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.
But the officials continued to regard the information as significant and troubling because the reconnaissance already conducted has provided Al Qaeda with the knowledge necessary to carry out attacks against the sites in Manhattan, Washington and Newark. They said Al Qaeda had often struck years after its operatives began surveillance of an intended target.
Taken together with a separate, more general stream of intelligence, which indicates that Al Qaeda intends to strike in the United States this year, possibly in New York or Washington, the officials said even the dated but highly detailed evidence of surveillance was sufficient to prompt the authorities to undertake a global effort to track down the unidentified suspects involved in the surveillance operations.
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