Although the missing report received a substantial amount of attention on conservative blogs and news sites in the weeks following the attacks, the story was not reported in the wider media. Additionally, it was not mentioned in either the State Department's Accountability Review Board report or the report issued by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. (The latter report does mention a February 2012 OSAC report, see footnote on page 11, but not the September 6, 2012 report.)
The OSAC's reports are prepared within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security of the State Department specifically for the private sector interests serviced by the Council. However, the reports presumably draw upon the same intelligence available to the State Department as a whole and reflect the attitudes and posture of the larger department. Indeed, at an August 29, 2012 press briefing, in response to a question about a State Department travel warning about Pakistan, spokesperson Victoria Nuland disavowed any connection of the travel warning to the upcoming anniversary, stating, "It doesn’t have anything to do with September 11th."
Congress will have an opportunity this week to delve further into the decisions that led to the initial issuance of the Terrorism and Important Dates report, as well as the decision to remove the report after it "expired." The answers to who made those decisions and for what reasons may help Congress get to the bottom of this disastrous episode.
Here’s the full text of Terrorism and Important Dates report:
The apparent full text of the OSAC report, as posted on September 6, 2012 on the website of an OSAC constituent, reads as follows:
Terrorism and Important Dates
OSAC currently has no credible information to suggest that al-Qa’ida or any other terrorist group is plotting any kind of attack overseas to coincide with the upcoming anniversary of September 11. However, constituents often have concerns around important dates, holidays, and major events, Often times, these concerns are the result of increased media attention to the issue, rather than credible evidence of a terrorist plot.
While it is true that In the aftermath of the May 2, 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abottabad, Pakistan, several media sources reported on various documents recovered during the raid that suggested al-Qa’ida was seeking to conduct significant attacks on major holidays and anniversaries, there are no indications that any of these plans were ever operational. OSAC constituents should review their local emergency action plans and security protocols ahead of major U.S. holidays and anniversary dates.
Terrorism and Holidays/Anniversary Dates
Historically, al-Qa’ida and other transnational terrorist groups have not conducted successful attacks on major U.S. holidays and anniversary dates. One possible explanation for this lack of activity is due to the increase in security on major dates because of a perceived vulnerability. A terrorist group that has spent a significant amount of time monitoring a potential target, training operatives, and acquiring the weapons necessary for a major attack would be less likely to attack when security is at a heightened level.
Terrorist groups are predisposed to conduct the attack first and justify the reasoning subsequently. One recent example of this predisposition was the June 28. 2011 attack on the InterContinental Hotel in Kabul. The attackers primary motivation was to kill as many Westerners and Afghan officials as possible; however, after media reports began erroneously claiming that an important Transition Conference was going to take place at the hotel the next day, the terrorists responsible for the attack claimed that they were in fact targeting that conference. Although specific dates may be important symbolically to terrorist groups, a near-term successful attack will likely be painted as both revenge for the death of bin Laden and a blow against the United States.