It's the "new normal" start of the fall campaign season -- the heightened terror alert:
Government officials have been quietly stepping up counterterror efforts out of a growing concern that al Qaeda or similar organizations might try to capitalize on the spate of extremely high-profile events in the coming months, sources tell ABC News.
Security experts point to next month's Olympics as evidence that high-profile events attract threats of terrorism, like the one issued this past weekend by a Chinese Muslim minority group that warned of its intent to attack the Games.
Anti-terror officials in the U.S. cite this summer and fall's lineup of two major political parties' conventions, November's general election and months of transition into a new presidential administration as cause for heightened awareness and action.
This is what the Department of Homeland Security is quietly declaring a Period of Heightened Alert, or POHA, a time frame when terrorists may have more incentive to attack.
All snark aside, the government is right on this one -- certainly the Olympics have been a target for terrorism (in 1972 and again in 1996 -- remember Atlanta?) and so have the first year of new presidents, in 1993 and again in 2001. What's annoying is the way that the Bush administration politicized terror alerts leading up to the 2004 election. That makes it harder for people to take new terror alerts seriously -- even if there might be something to it.