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The threat to schools

In terrorism news today is the story of a bulletin issued to schools about preventing takeovers and killings like those in Beslan, Russia a month ago. The bulletin points out that there is no current known threat, just a set of precautions that schools should take.

Tonight our local news ran a short and more alarming story on the threat of attacks on U.S., schools, saying that “an insurgent” in Iraq had been found to have downloaded maps of U.S. schools. A search of google news turns up just a couple of stories, including this local news transcript from Michigan. What the broadcast tonight didn’t say is that this all happened in July:

Walt Reynolds of the Bay City office of the FBI confirmed Birch Run was one of the cities mentioned in what he calls “dated and vague intelligence.”

That being said, the FBI acted swiftly when that intelligence was received, just as it routinely does throughout the year with the thousands of threats that come in. State and local police investigated, along with the FBI.

The good news is that this threat was deemed not credible.

This discovery was made back in July by the military, but was not taken seriously until after the September attack on school children in Belsan, Russia.

Since then, the Department of Education has sent letters to school districts across the country, warning them to increase security.

The piece is odd: The issue was dealt with swiftly by the FBI, but also not taken seriously until last month, after Beslan. What is that supposed to mean? The Department of Homeland Security is keeping us safe from last summer’s threats? Sounds like a pre-9/11 mentality to me.

Update: More news from CNN this morning, indicating that the information is a couple of months old. According to this morning’s article, “authorities said this information is not related to a bulletin that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued Wednesday to schools and law enforcement about school safety in the wake of the Beslan, Russia, massacre.” So, the various stories aren’t entirely reconciled.

Update the second: Josh Marshall notes that the now-updated CNN story says that the Iraqi found with the information has “a connection to civic groups doing planning for schools in Iraq.” So we’ve busted the Iraqi Department of Education, it would appear.