The Nevada gambler, al-Qaida, the CIA and the mother of all cons

I remember all the scheduled BA flights being cancelled - one daily flight in particular was cancelled at short-notice day after day, iirc to the extent they had to retitle it as it had such a bad rep:


Ever since the initial WMD claims - later supported by that fantastic performance by Colin Powell at the UN - it’s been one ‘credible source’ after another.


  1. Did this receive much coverage in the US media ten days or so ago
  2. Are the CIA really (a) this stupid and (b) this incompetent, and
  3. What are the public supposed to do next time when confronted by so much (WMD) manipulation and/or in’credible’ stupidity?

Is there any accountability at all, anywhere?

This is the nature of espionage. Espionage is built on cons. It’s entirely cons. Everyone conning each other. And in today’s climate, the intelligence services have become the most powerful organizations. And yet within those organizations they don’t know what’s going on intradepartmentally. It’s a house of cards, or maybe a house of mirrors. :wink:

It is a house of unlimited tax dollars as long as they can keep the public scared. As long as Americans accept their fear mongering as credible, they can make themselves very wealthy and powerful.

It’s not just America. It’s across the entire world. We’re run by megalomaniacal sociopaths whose allegiances shift with the wind who are providing the intelligence that decides who we bomb, where and how. I’m not referring merely to the CIA, but to the ISI, MI6, Mossad, FSB, etc…

You people are bombed out, aren’t you?

You haven’t got enough left to be concerned let alone shocked by the level of abuse of office the OP suggests. What does it matter the government lies about invading countries and no one does anything about it, it doesn’t matter that organs of Government are incompetent and no one investigates the incompetence . . as long as I’ve got a gun in my cabinet at home I know I’m a free man, right? Is that how it works now – gun ownership is the comforter for the masses?

It doesn’t matter that US citizens can be arrested and detained indefinitely without trial because you’ve got a gun at home. It doesn’t matter how many lies the government uses to manipulate public opinion and ensure the enlistment numbers stay up, it doesn’t matter how much of the military is privatized or the media is controlled by corporation that also control Congress. It doesn’t matter because you’ve got a gun at home.

Where is your self-respect? What happened to that country?

Admittedly, after 8 years of far-right rule, it’s tough. And Dawn Johnsen still hasn’t been confirmed.

Pretty much. I recall someone putting it thusly:

"Conservatives claim to need guns to defend their rights. So the Bush administration just said, ‘Keep the guns. Just give us the rights.’ "

ISTM some intel people decided that what puts bread on the table and stars on their collars is telling the oversight committee they’ve used high tech and “enhanced methods” to bust a big, nefarious, complex plot by supervillains, requiring huge appropriations and authorities to take extraordinary steps… and they ended up believing it themselves and giving more credence to whatever evidence sustained that line of argument. Legs-on-the-ground intelligence of the kind that would notice an actual tip about who signs up with what radical groups where, and has the means and motives to carry it out? Oh please, don’t waste our time, we’ve more important things to care about.

It is not unprecedented. Our insider in Iraq was a cab driver named “curveball” who told the Bush and Blair admins about all the weaponry that Sadaam had. We believed him because his info justified the actions they wanted to take .

I am still waiting to see the evidence of weapons in vast tunnels underneath Baghdad that rival subway lines. I know I saw front page color diagrams in respected daily newspapers in the US about that one. Far as I can tell, I am the only one that remembers it though.

Just a reminder. It was the Clinton Administration that gutted the Intelligence Budget in the 90’s. I have a cite from 1993 of the plan to cut $7.5 billion from the CIA budget, as laid out by the Director of the CIA in an Op-ed to the NY Times.
How did they gut it? They replaced boots-on-the-ground with satellites and, surveillence aircraft, and in this article the Director boasts that maybe they might do it better for less.

Too late to edit…
The cuts were enacted despite all of the successful terrorist attacks that happened during the Clinton Administration (WTC car bomb, Khobar Towers, African Embassies, and USS Cole).)

Although I hate to interrupt this regularly-scheduled outrage, but has the OP considered the difference in the reasonableness of precaution?

For example, if someone comes to the authorities (whether CIA, TSA, local police, etc) with information that BA flights are about to be bombed. Now, one can either let the flights go forward while one investigates the accuracy of the sources, or one can cancel the flights. Obviously, the latter was chosen. That the information later proved to be false does not mean that the decision-making process was flawed; because the process was based on uncertain information. To expect authorities to instantly be able to judge the credibility of every source of information is fantasy.

On the other hand, if someone produces information that Iraq has WMD, but there does not seem to be a plan for an imminent attack, then obviously caution would dictate that more time be taken to assess the information before an invasion of Iraq is launched.

So, I ask each of those who have posted to this thread so far: if compelling, but unverified, information comes forward that there is a terrorist attack planned on one particular airline, when do you think the airline should be informed of this information? Should the government encourage the airline to continue operations while the veracity of the source is investigated?

But to suggest that signaling your defenses and information flow is a good idea in such a high stakes game is at least as much a fantasy too.

Or, one could, and perhaps should, raelize that all aspects of that claim are uncertain too, and act accordingly. If the “not ready to attack” turns out to be wrong, then what?

Of course - you search for and identify the threat. If there is a bomb on board in advance of boarding, you find it. If not, then you check each passenger and staff in an enhanced manner. Then, maybe you cancel or maybe not, but you make the decision at the end - one result is you tip your hand less, another is you leave the option for the flight to go forward as long as possible, yet another is you gel enough time for the plot to gel and perpetrators be identified rather than send them back into the woodwork.

This all covered in “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. It is nothing new.