The great palaver about anticipated attacks by Islamic militants, accompanied by the closure of embassies etc., is presented as a triumph for intelligent gathering via snooping on electronic communications. This is very convenient and timely for security agencies that have been attacked as the result of Snowden’s disclosures. Let’s set aside extreme scepticism and accept that the alert is not a contrived false alarm, we can still wonder if the trumpeting of the intelligence would have been the same at another time. The security agencies can’t loose. If there are attacks, they can say, we told you so. If there are not, they can seek our acclaim for heading off the threats.