On October 29, 2001, Attorney General John Aschcroft announced to the American people that the US government had evidence of a credible threat of a terrorist attack against US target; that warnings had been passed to local law enforcement agencies, and that the American people should be cool, and don't panic.

That's it. As information dumps go, it was pretty content-free. But, if you spent the next 24 hours watching the news, you'd have extracted a few key items of interest:

The fact that there was a general notice most likely means that the threat hasn't been narrowed down to a specific venue, so folks should be on the lookout everywhere. But clearly, there was not a huge amount of concern that the President would be atacked at Yankee Stadium. Additionally, the absence of anything Hallowe'en related implies that there is not a threat against America's children (if there was one, and people weren't warned, it would be a death knell for the administration).

But look at this warning about flying near nuclear reactors. Perhaps there is some intel that the likely terrorists have been studying the effects of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. And look at that date! November 6th is the first Tuesday of November, which makes it Election Day over here. The President isn't up, but any number of local and state officials have their jobs up for grabs. And while historically, voter turnout is poor in off-season elections, the publicity effect of a major terrorist attack in the morning, after which people are afraid to go to their polling places, would be incredible.

Now, on to counterintelligence. It could be that the credible threat is for something else entirely. Why then the NOTAM on nuclear reactors? Because it will mislead a terrorist into thinking we have been misled. If, in fact, the government knows that the real attack will be on November 7, 2001 and will be an cattle mutilation in a corn field in Iowa, then the "leak" will make the terrorists think they haven't been detected, and not shift their plans.