The U.S. State Department's vaguely worded travel alert issued yesterday for Americans has kicked up criticism in the U.K.
Some of that criticism is misguided-- the State Department alert specifically said that it was not based on any new information, but rather on an accumulation of intelligence information in recent months. Blame media paraphrasing there, for not providing specific texts.
On the other hand, legitimate questions are being raised about whether the alert -- highly unusual in that it was not country-specific, but rather inclusive of Europe in general -- was another example of hair-trigger reactions to the ongoing Islamic terrorist threat.
For example, the Independent newspaper in London today called the State Department alert "an unhelpful overreaction and a kick in the teeth for the European tourist industry" and said, "If intelligence had suggested U.S. citizens were a specific target, the alert might have been justified. But there was nothing in the intelligence reports last week to suggest that. And the fact that no arrests were made after the report was leaked indicates how nebulous and undeveloped these plots must be."
Meanwhile, ABC News, which as I said yesterday has a reputation for going off breathlessly with alarming, usually anonymously sourced terrorist-threat reports that ultimately fizzle, is still at it today, with a report that "teams of terrorists" in Europe "may now be ready to attack" and may not back off because they are on a "pre-set timetable."