The Paradox of Warning grows out of the experience of the Indications & Warning community. Say that country B is about to attack country A. If A’s I&W analysts figure this out, and formally warn A’s government, then A might take action to forestall the attack, like putting their troops on alert. When B sees this, they back off, figuring that their attack will be unsuccessful. There is no attack, and A’s government yells at their I&W analysts for giving a false alarm and causing them to spend money on troop alerts. And of course, A’s I&W analysts have no way of proving that there ever was an attack planned, unless someone from B should admit to that. IIRC, Anwar Sadat said that he was on the brink of ordering an attack on Israel six or seven times, and pulled back each time, before finally committing to the 1973 war.
On the other hand, there’s no way to prove that country A really believed they were going to be attacked, and didn’t just inflate the possible threat in order to distract the country from internal political complications, the Falklands War being a good example. On the gripping hand, there’s no way to prove that country A didn’t just inflate the threat in order to demonstrate that they really do need programs like PRISM and XKeyscore.
According to CNN, Sunday is the 27th day of Ramadan, and the day that Muslim extremists consider auspicious for attacks on the US. That may be part of the reason why there’s a State Department travel advisory, and why 21 US embassy’s are closed this weekend.
If there’s a major AQ attack, then the government is proven right. If there’s minor disturbances, even if they are of the kind that can occur any time in that area, then the government will claim to be proven right. If there’s no attacks, then the government will say “See, our precautions worked, and it was all due to our collection programs.” And nobody will be able to tell differently, unless, you know, somebody blows the whistle.
Me? I wouldn’t be surprised to see attacks sometime this month — merde d’occur — but I still don’t trust the government.