New report, same old story

FOX News is among the entire mainstream media that came up with a news report on Mr. Abdulmutallab. Click here, if you want to read it. What does this say to the ordinary U.S. taxpayers and people from all over the world who hardly expected such a blunder?

As I mentioned on my previous entry, this is a classic example of a bureaucratic failure in a country that pays a lot more for its national security than the next 14 countries on that list taken together. I believe that there is hardly a way that the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) had not notified the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) about Umar Abdulmutallab on purpose for whatever reason because it may cost bureaucrats not only their job – regardless of the state of the economy, nobody wants to be fired – but also their reputation, and with bad reputation one can hardly find a job, not to mention that charges may arise.

I am discussing this in case some speculate that through this scandal the CIA actually wanted the Obama Administration to take a different course of action in its fight against the terrorists which is continued from the Bush Administration. In the end of the day, after so many red lights from everywhere, including Umar’s father, it is extremely surprising as to why Mr. Abdulmutallab wasn’t caught, and is therefore possible for such conspiracy theories to surge.

 Of course, I am not completely debunking this theory because I am not an expert in intelligences’ tactics. Let’s not forget that they are not as transparent as the other administrations and agencies of the government sector.

What does the news report above tell us

It basically shows us how the ones responsible for the potential chaos are trying to justify their actions – or should I say lack of action:

CIA’s Africa division had prepared a report on a young Nigerian man well before he allegedly attempted to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day, but the report wasn’t distributed because the analyst in charge was waiting for pictures of the man, Fox News has learned.

Merely waiting for pictures of the man cannot be a justifiable excuse, especially in times of a more globalized and technologically advanced world than ever. Besides, the analyst could have obtained certain pictures from Umar’s father who repeatedly had notified the American authorities about his son’s radicalized mind. There can hardly be two Umar Abdulmutallab who look awfully familiar.

Here are the conflicting extracts from the FOX News’ article! As you may see, all of the extracts that justify the NCTC’s and the TSA’s work lack arguments:

Justified:

  • CIA’s Africa division had prepared a report on a young Nigerian man well before he allegedly attempted to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day, but the report wasn’t distributed because the analyst in charge was waiting for pictures of the man, Fox News has learned.
  • The basic timeline is this: As early as August, telephone intercepts alerted intelligence officials to someone called “The Nigerian” involved in a planned attack. The CIA, though, didn’t realize that the individual was suspect Abdulmutallab until after the bombing attempt.
  • But other officials bristled at the suggestion that key warning signs were missed in the intelligence community.
  • One U.S. official told Fox News that the suggestion that a “magic” piece of intelligence would have shot Abdulmutallab’s name to the top of the no-fly list is absurd. (???)

 

Not justified:

  • One official described the CIA report as containing a “more extensive description” of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s travel and contacts, which could have been used to keep him off the plane.
  • The CIA report contained a reference to “more extensive description of (Abdulmutallab’s) travel in the Middle East and his contacts,” a U.S. intelligence official told Fox News.
  • Within hours of his remarks, new information trickled out about who knew what, and when. And it didn’t look good for some agencies. 
  • The basic timeline is this: As early as August, telephone intercepts alerted intelligence officials to someone called “The Nigerian” involved in a planned attack. The CIA, though, didn’t realize that the individual was suspect Abdulmutallab until after the bombing attempt.
  • Then in November, the suspect’s father contacted the U.S. embassy in Nigeria to warn U.S. officials about his son’s radical associations and that he had disappeared. After the father’s warning, the State Department sent a cable Nov. 20 to the National Counterterrorism Center warning about the son’s possible extremist ties… At that point, his name was added to the terror database.
  • Another intelligence official said there was information out there that would have allowed the National Counterterrorism Center to potentially elevate the suspect’s name on a terror database. 
  • The State Department, too, deflected some attention on Monday, saying counterterrorism officials were the ones who decided not to revoke Abdulmutallab’s visa. Spokesman Ian Kelly said that while the State Department has the authority to revoke a visa, it’s not the department’s responsibility. He said that after the suspect’s father contacted the embassy, the warning was sent to the National Counterterrorism Center, which reviewed the case and determined there was “insufficient” evidence to take back the visa. (???)
  • A senior administration official, speaking with reporters on condition of anonymity, said enough had been known about the suspect to stop him, but the government didn’t connect the dots.

I already discussed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s comments that “the system worked”. I will just add that a common practice in interior affairs politics after such a haughty statement is for the opposition to call for her resignation. Representative Dan Burton (R – Indiana) is among the ones – in fact the first – to do so, followed by Representative John Carter (R – Texas) and other politicians from the right. I wouldn’t be surprised if President Barack Obama is having talks with his staff about Secretary Napolitano’s potential replacement.

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2 Comments

Filed under Politics

2 responses to “New report, same old story

  1. I am still not convinced that the system doesn’t work. It’s just not 100% effective, but again – what is?

    What i find more vexatious is that, for a while at least, we all need to accept the fact we are going to have our armpits and the soles of our feet rubbed during airport security checks (for international flights at least). Also, we’d not be allowed to get up during the last hour of the flight. This would be ideal if it actually guaranteed security. Yet, there’s always going to be some ‘novelty’ way to smuggle bombs into planes. Not to mention all of these precautions and safety check get extreme immediately after threats and tend to slack off later.

    I’ve been flying internationally every year for the past five years and every time the checks are more and more burdensome, time-consuming and truly embarrassing. Needless to say, this puts an entirely new spin on tourism. Funnily enough, I don’t even know what they are looking for anymore. I always see people bring in tweezers, scissors, knitting needles and what not, while i have my hand sanitizer thrown away. Those numerous check don’t make me feel safer as a passenger, but more nervous.

  2. While not a single system is 100% effective, this turns out to be too ineffective because the NCTC actually had his name and could have easily distributed their data to all international airports’ customs officers. I don’t think it would hurt the CIA because this is not classified information since it’s to everyone’s interest to catch the terrorists. Now, here a counterargument would be that too many people would have access to the information, and it could be enough for just one of them to be a conspirator and plan accordingly as to how that terrorist would be provided access to the plane. But this is not a serious issue, and there are tons of ways to solve it.

    “Also, we’d not be allowed to get up during the last hour of the flight. This would be ideal if it actually guaranteed security.”

    Highly unlikely would it guarantee security. In this case terrorists would get up during the last ten minutes before that last hour and still be successful. Plus, not allowing people to get up would have to involve security guards traveling with the passengers because people are not going to be as respectful to stewards as they are to security guards. But then again, it will not be enough to prove that someone did whatever so cameras will have to be installed for such a purpose which actually intervenes with the people’s privacy, thus making them additionally angry at the heavier bureaucracy.

    “Not to mention all of these precautions and safety check get extreme immediately after threats and tend to slack off later.”

    That’s the biggest problem. To what intensity should the precautions and safety checks be so that they are most effective and least time consuming plus what incentives to give the customs officers in order to be more successful.

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