Move along, nothing to see here

What are we to make of the government's quick pooh-poohing of an ABC News report featuring video of a "graduation ceremony" at an al-Qaeda training camp, with some 300 budding jihadists being sent off to bomb targets in Europe and the United States?

Really now, think about how remarkable this is.  Under normal circumstances, this would be a golden opportunity for the government to play up the terrorist threat and cow us into fear.

In just the past couple of months, our leaders have touted threats to blow up pipelines under JFK Airport and shoot up Fort Dix.  Never mind that the alleged conspiracists were only at the talking stage of their plots, and they wouldn't have gotten that far were it not for federal informants egging them on.  (And in the case of JFK, even a successful attack would have had nowhere near the desired effect.)  The Sears Tower plot hatched in Miami last year was equally improbable.

There's only one prior incident I can think of where the feds played down a publicized terrorist plot.  It was in the fall of 2005, when three men interrogated in Iraq revealed a plot to set off bombs in New York.  The rationale for playing it down was pretty obvious — it flew in the face of government assertions that fighting jihadists in Iraq will keep them from coming to the United States.

So what's the rationale for downplaying this video?  Simply the fact that it was obtained by a news organization instead of the government.  After all, isn't it the government that should be interrupting terrorist plots?  Play up this video as evidence of a legitimate threat, and people might start wondering why a Pakistani journalist found the training camp before U.S. government agents did.