Folks, the Al Qaeda 2.0 Conference discussed below went superbly, but I am exhausted and am coming down off of all the Robitussin, Cepacol, Motrin, Advil, and Tyleno Flu pills I survived on most of the day.
The event is already being replayed on C-Span, and we will soon have two versions of written transcripts — one a quick and dirty version and the second an edited and polished transcript more appropriate for publication. I think that Karen Greenberg, Executive Director of the NYU Center on Law and Security, and I will probably edit these along with Peter Bergen.
The big disaster — avoided because of the fancy footwork of my friend and colleague Jennifer Buntman — was that the U.S. Capitol Police had decided (unbeknownst to us) to have a terror alert exercise, moving everyone outside at 10 a.m. this morning. We found out at 8:45 a.m. — and we have 350 people packed in a room; the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN, PBS, and C-Span all filming this event, with C-Span running it live.
If this drill had occurred, many of our participants and some of our speakers would have thought it was a deliberate act by the government to disrupt the conference.
When Jenny Buntman got me on the case, I spoke to one police officer, who when I said that this would not go well in the next day’s papers, just said “There will be a drill at 10 a.m. — deal with it.”
Well, this may seem like a small and trivial thing, but Jennifer Buntman did her own politicking and found a relatively highly placed U.S. Capitol Police officer who played tennis regularly with Senator John Breaux, who arranged this extraordinary room for us in the Russell Senate Office Building.
Either this guy cancelled the drill because he was sensible and knew that there would be all sorts of unexpected and negative repercussions from the drill, or he cancelled it because Jenny Buntman, a star tennis player, offered this guy a game.
I don’t care what got us out of this mess — but many of you got to see the show go on because Jenny Buntman and other members of our team were overcoming behind the scenes challenges all day.
And as Paul Harvey used to say, “And that’s the rest of the story.”
Good night.
— Steve Clemons