Turns out that Code Orange alert was based partly on "a claim made by a captured al Qaeda member that Washington, New York or Florida would be hit by a 'dirty bomb' sometime this week," ABC News reports. A "cell operating in either Virginia or Detroit had developed a way to slip past airport scanners with dirty bombs encased in shoes, suitcases, or laptops," the detainee had explained, prompting the government to step up security and scare the bejeezus out of everyone. Then they got around to polygraphing the prisoner, and the whole tale turned out to be a lie. Now the CIA and the FBI are blaming each other for the screwup.
This isn't the first time something like this has happened. Isn't it possible that Al Qaeda operatives are, you know, under orders to tell phony stories like this if they get captured? It's quite a ju-jitsu move, after all, to get your enemy to spread your disinformation for you. And I'm sure Osama, if he's alive, would love the sight of U.S. police scrambling to D.C., New York, Florida, Virginia, and Michigan, all in search of a phantom conspiracy.