Remember the SMC maxim: "Any time a U.S. official publicly refers to chatter, you can be sure that some variety of bullshittery is afoot."
The SMC maxim cited here has only a slight direct relevance to the overall story (the part where DHS issued the upgraded threat level based on "chatter"), but it is an indication that the dude's program was a stinker and that people knew all along that it was crap.
The weeks before Christmas brought no hint of terror. But by the afternoon of
It was Code Orange. Americans first heard of it at a Sunday press conference in
The financial markets trembled. By Tuesday the panic had ratcheted up as the Associated Press reported threats to “power plants, dams and even oil facilities in
But there were no real intercepts, no new informants, no increase in chatter. And the suspicious package turned out to contain a stuffed snowman. This was, instead, the beginning of a bizarre scam. Behind that terror alert, and a string of contracts and intrigue that continues to this date, there is one unlikely character.
The man’s name is Dennis Montgomery, a self-proclaimed scientist who said he could predict terrorist attacks. Operating with a small software development company, he apparently convinced the Bush White House, the CIA, the Air Force and other agencies that Al Jazeera—the Qatari-owned TV network—was unwittingly transmitting target data to Al Qaeda sleepers.
An unusual team arrived in
ETreppid Technologies was a four-year-old firm trying to find its way. Some of its employees had been hired to design video games. One game under construction was Roadhouse, based on the 1989 movie in which Patrick Swayze plays a bouncer in a dive bar. Other programmers worked on streaming video for security cameras.
He is an unusual man. In court papers filed in
Since 1996 the Al Jazeera news network had been operating in the nation of
As strange as his technology appeared to be, it was nevertheless an attractive concept.
Over the years
The reason the whole thing worked was because
The federal government was acting on the Al Jazeera claims without even understanding how
Despite such skepticism, the information found its way to the top of the
A former CIA official went through the scenario with me and explained why sanity finally won out. First,
A branch of the French intelligence services helped convince the Americans that the bar codes were fake. The CIA and the French commissioned a technology company to locate or re-create codes in the Al Jazeera transmission. They found definitively that what
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