Thursday, December 31, 2009


Our national security bureaucracy seems to be completely hopeless:
In interviews Wednesday, government officials and others provided an account of how various agencies had gleaned bits and pieces of information about the young Nigerian, but failed to pull them together to disrupt his plot. Most of the officials spoke only on the condition that they not be quoted by name.

The first sign of a threat came in August, when the National Security Agency, responsible for electronic eavesdropping around the world, intercepted the Qaeda conversations about the mysterious, unidentified Nigerian. That same month, Mr. Abdulmutallab arrived in Yemen and apparently soon began preparing for the Christmas Day attack.

Three months later, in November, Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father, a former senior Nigerian government official and a prominent banker, became panicked about his son’s turn to radicalism, according to an interview with a family cousin. The father beseeched Nigerian and American officials to intervene before his son did harm, said the cousin.
I mean, how common is it for "prominent" Muslim officials to approach the US government warning that their sons might be terrorists? Shouldn't a tip like this be referred to someone who could check it against the NSA's warnings of upcoming attacks? Despite all the work that has been done since 9-11, our ability to prioritize information remains dismal, and communication between agencies is awful. The system still discourages cooperation and rewards fief-building, and these habits are so ingrained that I can't see any way to make the existing agencies work. I think we should abolish the CIA and distribute its elements among the State Department, the FBI, and a new, smaller agency for covert operations. I can't see what good all the secret analysts actually do.

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