Earlier this week, the Transportation Security Administration released information to the entire world claiming they have obtained new “chatter threats” coming from “terrorist’s organizations.” This chatter is not intelligence rather it is data obtained without any circumstantial evidence. Could this be a propaganda stunt?
There are two forms of discussions that exists within the intelligence world–chatter and noise. To differentiate the two and without giving some academic text book answer, chatter has more emphasis than noise. Chatter oftentimes gets more attention than noise yet neither have any confirmation. (For those Intel folks out there, please, I understand what you are thinking right now but this is being written for the non-Intel type)
While both are worthy in their own right, neither are of concern until substantial collection exists to confirm or deny the initial data points. In this case, claiming that “terrorists might try to plant bombs inside of people” is simply chatter. Yes, terrorists have been discussing this for several years now yet nothing has been confirmed that they are moving in that direction.
Needless to say, while terrorists may be discussing such concept of operation, let’s face it; they cannot even get a shoe or underwear tactic to work yet. A shoe bomb and or an underwear bomb is not very sophisticated so how do these so called terrorists believe they have the sophistication to fulfill a high tech medical procedure which will allow carriers to fulfill an attack with explosives or detonation materials inside their own bodies?
This scenario in many ways is almost comical. No, no person should underestimate neither today’s terrorists nor the threats which they impose. With that, maybe some terrorist masterminds will go great lengths to make such attempts–hence why this scenario is ALMOST comical.
The Transportation Security Administration has been under a serious spotlight lately. They have been ridiculed for their methodologies in searching persons. They have failed in numerous airport security tests. And now, they make claims that new threats exists pertaining a very sophisticated terrorist methodology–a threat that they cannot even identify the actual terrorist organization claiming such statements.
Could this new threat be propaganda? Maybe, maybe not. The current administration has taken numerous stones in the face when it comes to our national security and maybe a little propaganda is what they believe is needed to keep the world at bay.
The border remains a hot topic especially today with the Department of Justice’s “Fast and Furious” debacle. The crisis throughout the Middle East and North Africa specifically with U.S. intervention in places like Libya, Yemen, and the like also remains questionable. And shall we not forget, a continued ongoing investigation against a small handful of interrogators continues. Sure, killing Bin Laden was a win but it has been short lived.
This administration needs a win. The win does not have to be through any physical success like the killing of Bin Laden. It can be a psychological win. Psychological wins occur through propaganda. So, the question remains, is this current TSA threat real or is this a propaganda escapade made in an attempt to comfort some through psychological means?
Kerry Patton is the Co-Founder of the National Security Leadership Foundation, a non-profit organization pending 501c (3) status. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is the author of “Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies” and the children’s book “American Patriotism.” You can follow him on Facebook.