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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Update on the Terrorist Hijacking

President Obama called the lapse in security a "systemic failure".

I wanted to speak to the American people again today because some of this preliminary information that has surfaced in the last 24 hours raises some serious concerns. It's been widely reported that the father of the suspect in the Christmas incident warned U.S. officials in Africa about his son's extremist views. It now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community, but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect's name on a no-fly list.

There appears to be other deficiencies as well. Even without this one report there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together. We've achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists and potential terrorist attacks. But it's becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have.

Had this critical information been shared it could have been compiled with other intelligence and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged. The warning signs would have triggered red flags and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America.

The conservative media is all over a report that Chris Dodd cut security funds for a pet project.

Seeking some pork barrel projects for his state, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., proposed an amendment reducing aviation security appropriations by $4.5 million last July in favor of firefighter grants — a notoriously ineffective program, according to experts, the Washington Examiner reported.

The money Dodd blocked was specifically "for screening operations and the amount for explosives detection systems." Dodd proposed the amendment because the firefighters union is a pet constituency of his, according to the Examiner.

That obviously doesn't look good and Dodd was already in big trouble.

Meanwhile, Dan Burton became the first, though certainly won't be the last, to call for Janet Napolitano to resign.

the guy who blew away a pumpkin to replicate Vince Foster's "murder" and called
President Clinton a "scumbag" — is the first Republican out of the box to call for DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano's resignation.

Never mind that half of Burton's press release implicates the FBI, DOJ, State Department and foreign governments just as much as DHS

That's from Glenn Thrush of Politico who's clearly no fan of Burton. Pete Hoekstra also offered open criticism of Napolitano. It's hard to see how she survives. This story isn't going away. It's only going to expand and Napolitano is simply not up to the job. That becomes more and more clear everyday.

The most troubling news was this.

President Obama has acknowledged that the United States had early signals that a terrorist attack was being plotted in Yemen and failed to take adequate steps to prevent it.

According to a page one story in the New York Times, two federal officials told the paper that U.S. intelligence was aware that a Nigerian Muslim was preparing an attack, yet officials did nothing to give warning of such an attack.

The paper reported Wednesday: "Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of Al Qaeda were talking about 'a Nigerian' being prepared for a terrorist attack."

So far, all we know is that a bureaucratic breakdown prevented different branches of our government from sharing information and so the would be bomber got on a flight despite there being plenty of information to put him on a no fly list.

If this sounds familiar, we also had a similar break down in intelligence gathering that lead to 9/11. Managing the multiple layers of the federal government is one of the toughest jobs of the Chief Executive. During Bush's hey day, that was one of his strengths. We were sharing intelligence and that was a main reason a second attack never happened.

One of Bush's weakest spots was his constant insistence on releasing folks we had in GITMO. It turns out that it's very possible two former GITMO detainees were involved in this plot. That was a very underreported story because everyone in the media wanted GITMO closed, but Bush deserves plenty of criticism for his insistence on releasing bad guys.

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