Were There Enough Dots To Connect?
Kevin Drum takes a look at some recent reports and wonders if there was really enough intelligence to “connect the dots” and prevent the aborted Christmas bombing prior to the attempt.
The Christmas bombing attempt might well turn out to be a serious intelligence failure. But the evidence so far suggests that the only red flags known to U.S. intelligence were (a) a walk-in warning of dubious value from Abdulmutallab’s father, (b) warnings that “a Nigerian” was planning an attack, (c) Abdulmutallab’s recent trip to Yemen, and (d) his lack of checked luggage. That’s not very much.
We should all keep an open mind on this. But the more facts that come out, the less it seems as if the intelligence failure was really that serious. There were only a few vague warnings in the system, not the panoply of blinking red alarms that we’ve been hearing about.
Of course, it’s impossible to know at the moment whether there was more information, but I think that Drum makes a good point here. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we might not be able to be better at counterintelligence operations and gathered more information had things not been different. I don’t think that the government is completely free from blame here.
That said, the real question is: how can we improve our counter-terrorism operations so that we can better separate the wheat from the chaff going forward?