Several days ago the Department of State issued a worldwide travel alert
concerning a possible pending terrorist attack by Al Qaeda against US citizens and interests. State also closed a total of 21 embassies from North Africa east as far as Bangladesh. Details regarding the threat were sketchy, but the greatest risk of attack was said to be in the Middle East, and the threat apparently originated in the Arabian Peninsula. That prompted significant speculation that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group based in Yemen, was behind the plot.
That's all obviously bad news, in the sense that it confirms what any rational being already knew. Our war with Al Qaeda is a long way from over. We may have pounded Al Qaeda Central in the Pak-Afghan theater. We may have killed and captured a great number of operatives and put the enemy on his heels. We have not won this war. The enemy is evolving and flowing from one lawless region of the world to another. We will be at this for a very long time.
But, here's another reason why this threat is very bad news. It's bad news, because when you issue a threat saying that you think something is going to happen but you can narrow the location of the impending attack beyond "somewhere in the Muslim world", your intelligence is not very good. I have no idea what the actual source of this intelligence is, and if I did know I could not discuss it in this forum, but I would guess that we are dealing with some form of very non-specific technical intelligence. In short, I would guess that once again, our human intelligence collection is weak to non-existent on this topic. If we had a man inside I think it is fair to say he would be able to give us a better idea of where to look other than somewhere between Rabat and Dhaka.
The good news is, however, that while the Intelligence Community is still struggling to improve its human intelligence collection, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in Wisconsin, apparently has a very robust intelligence collection capability and is not afraid to act on the intelligence it acquires.
Earlier this summer Illinois residents living near that Wisonsin-Illinois state line found a fawn, that they believed had been abandoned by its mother. They brought the fawn to a no-kill animal shelter run by the Society of Saint Francis a short distance away in Wisconsin. The shelter then began to attempt to find a place to permanently house the baby deer, which was nicknamed Giggles. Communication was established with an authorized Illinois deer rescue organization and preparations were begun for eventual transport of the animal to Illinois where it could live out its life in a safe environment.
Meanwhile, however, anonymous "sources" began to feed the Wisconsin DNR intelligence regarding the fawn. These "sources" not only alerted the DNR to the presence of the deer but also to the fact that it had been held by the St. Francis shelter beyond the 24 hour period prescribed by Wisconsin law. Worse, these "sources" advised, incorrectly, that the shelter might retain the deer on site permanently.
Spurred into action, in mid-July the Wisconsin DNR initiated ground and aerial surveillance of the target shelter for a period of five days to confirm the presence of the illegal fawn and to gather tactical intelligence in advance of a raid. Once the presence of the animal was confirmed, a warrant had been obtained and the compound had been recon'd, DNR sent in a team of fifteen armed agents and sheriff's deputies to hit the facility and seize the animal.
During the raid, workers at the shelter were herded into the parking lot and held for the duration of the operation. Telephone calls were prohibited. One worker who took pictures of the operation had the phone he was using to take the photographs confiscated and all the pictures deleted off of it. DNR agents then methodically searched the facility for the fugitive deer working their way not only through all the buildings at the shelter but through dog kennels, a cat house, a private residence, drawers and cabinets. Whether or not the search of drawers and cabinets for a thirty-five pound deer suggests some lack of clarity on the part of the search team regarding what a fawn is cannot yet be determined.
Giggles was ultimately located and immediately shot with a tranquilizer dart and stuffed into a body bag. She was then carried off site and killed. In the interest of thoroughness, apparently, DNR agents then seized a Canada goose that had been living near a pond at the shelter for eight years following its injury by nearby hunters.
When asked later, why they could not simply have called ahead and notified the shelter that they were coming to seize the animal, the Sheriff's Department that assisted with the operation responded, "If a sheriff's department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don't call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up." Whether this suggests that DNR's "sources" believed Giggles to have been dealing narcotics as well is as yet unknown.
The budget for the Wisconsin DNR for 2013-14 is $570.6 million. It is projected to be $573.7 million for 2014-2015. Obviously that money is being well spent to sustain and field a robust anti-fawn capability and to ensure that no animal shelter can flaunt the law in the interest of saving an animal's life. Wisconsin's schools may be falling apart, and its infrastructure may be in ruin, but its DNR SWAT teams are ready to spring into action at a moments' notice.
That's the good news.
Or maybe I got that backwards.
Or maybe there's just no good news at all.