You may or may not have seen the reports that FBI agents raided several residences in Queens today as part of counter-terrorism investigation. Authorities say there was no specific plot in progress and, according to the Times, a law enforcement official said they had “only a hazy view of the group, its operations and goals, but decided to act fearing that undercover surveillance had failed to detect plans that might be developing.”
There are very few details about just what this is about, other than the suggestive clue that senior members of Congress have been briefed on the investigation. But it’s precisely the dearth of information that caught my attention.
Over recent years we’ve been used to a pretty standard pattern: cable nets get tipped about some major terrorism plot or cell that’s been taken down. There’s lot of video and background reports from law enforcement officials. And then over days or weeks it becomes clear that it’s some sort of Key Stone Cops affair or a hair brain plot to get water to defy the law of physics to climb up Manhattan island to flood it or just some derelicts or borderline personalities who got taken in by some FBI informant. They’re not all as comical as the notorious and hilarious Seeds of David cult down in Miami, but the general pattern has been pretty consistent: a lot of media muscle flexing and scary talk with a pretty feeble denouement.
So why is this one so hush-hush? This, frankly, is how you’d expect law enforcement to deal with a real terror plot or cell being rolled up. Terse general notification and no one really commenting. To be perfectly clear, I know nothing about what this plot is about or who was arrested or what they’re accused of doing. But the MO on the part of law enforcement does seem very different.
Late Update: Rep. Pete King (R-NY) is chattering with a few details.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.