Tappahannock

TAPPAHANNOCK….Remember a couple of years ago when Homeland Security bumped up the terror alert level and suggested that terrorists might be targeting the unlikely locale of Tappahannock, Virginia? Where did Tappahannock come from, anyway? NBC News has the story:

For weeks, America was on edge as security operations went into high gear. Almost 30 international flights were canceled, inconveniencing passengers flying Air France, British Air, Continental and Aero Mexico.

But senior U.S. officials now tell NBC News that the key piece of information that triggered the holiday alert was a bizarre CIA analysis, which turned out to be all wrong.

CIA analysts mistakenly thought they’d discovered a mother lode of secret al-Qaida messages. They thought they had found secret messages on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language television news channel, hidden in the moving text at the bottom of the screen, known as the “crawl,” where news headlines are summarized.

Among the geographic coordinates the CIA thought were hidden in the Al-Jazeera crawl were those of the White House, the Space Needle, and….Tappahannock. Or maybe Rappahannock. Or something.

It was a false alarm, though. Al-Jazeera, it turns out, wasn’t acting as a conduit for Al-Qaeda after all.

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