The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert this morning, telling Americans traveling in Europe to "be aware of their surroundings and protect themselves," based on information that suggests that al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations might be planning terrorist attacks. The official statement:
Current information suggests that Al Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services
The Times points out that a travel alert is a step down from a travel warning, and the U.S. government isn't even considering a warning, which officially tells Americans not to leave the country at all. And, anyway, the Times explains: "A travel alert merely urges extra caution during a specific time and does not discourage Americans from visiting Europe." No, not discouraging at all. Just pack extra sunscreen.