Intelligence and the Marathon Bombing
Through its rhetoric and policies, this administration must take some responsibility for what happened in Boston on April 15th. During the Obama presidency not one person has been named as an enemy combatant, and the CIA is no longer in charge of interrogations. The president prematurely stated that because Osama bin Laden is dead and therefore terrorism is receding, it is now time to pivot away from the War on Terror.
This issue needs to be continually talked about to make sure the administration is not let off the hook by deflecting blame. They must realize that America is fighting a war against radical Islam. The president and his administration might want to recognize that since he has been in office there have been three successful terrorist attacks on US territory. American Thinker interviewed former CIA Director Michael Hayden, Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and a former high-ranking FBI official to get their feelings on this latest terrorist attack.
Congressman Nunes told American Thinker that he couldn't understand the philosophy and strategy of this administration; appreciating that during the election they created a myth that terrorism is no longer a major threat. "They created a victory lap to win the election. Now we have to determine if they actually believe that myth they created. We need to gather as much intelligence to see if the rules, strategy, and tactics changed by this administration contributed to what happened."
The blame game has started and the FBI seems to be holding the bag. Many are saying that they dropped the ball since they interviewed the terrorist and did not connect the dots when he left this country for six months and started a Jihadist website.
Did the FBI fail to vet the Boston Marathon bomber because of the covert and overt pressure put upon them to be politically correct by this administration? A former high-ranking FBI official interviewed agreed that the Obama administration thought there was an overreaction to terrorism, that being nice to our enemies would halt terror attacks, and that they did not want to do anything to inflame hatred towards Muslims. He felt, "I do think that this administration has a certain narrative and sets the tone. If they were honest they would recognize the emphasis they put on political correctness. The FBI was not given the authority to sweat this guy."
He also blames Congress and the Senate for faulting the FBI while at the same time restricting their actions through civil liberty laws. "That is the problem about our government, where they try to deflect the blame on someone else and never take accountability. There were FBI agents that were indicted for going too far, 'spying' on radical Americans, such as the Weathermen Underground, and when Obama became president he wanted to indict CIA operatives for what they legally did under the Bush Administration. No FBI agent will break the rules because of the fear of being indicted by their own government. Talk to this administration, Congress, and the Senate as to why this guy was not put on a watch list."
He also presented another point of view that he wants Americans to consider concerning the FBI's role. The agency has limited resources and gets thousands of tips, including from foreign governments, every week. Because of this, the Bureau triages the messages, and the most urgent get the most attention. "In this case the threshold was very low. Even though the information was given by Russia it was general in nature, which limited what the agents could pursue. The agent's supervisor tried to get more information from the host country and never received anything back in return. The supervisor must compare the resources to the level of the assessed threat. If you keep putting people on some kind of watch list every year the number of cases to watch is multiplied exponentially."
Another point he wants Americans to consider is the backstory. Since Russia is not inclined to help the U.S., the Bureau is always skeptical when they do get information from that country. "Since the U.S. has never had any problem with the Chechnyan rebels, there was this thought, 'was this actually a bona fide request or are the Russians trying to draw us into their own crisis?'"
Michael Hayden agrees and points out to American Thinker, "I would not assume that just because the Russians said they were concerned about someone, that they were automatically a terrorist. The Russians may have been very genuine, but concerning Chechnya they are coming from a different perspective than we are. The Federal Security Service of Russia are mad at a lot of rebels and not all of them are terrorists with even fewer dangerous to the U.S."
Do Americans have to worry that the Global Jihadist terrorists pivoted to these types of attacks? Hayden calls this the "new normal. There will be a certain amount of risk that will be permanent. Future terrorist attacks against the U.S. will be less complex, less well organized, less likely to succeed, less lethal if they do succeed, and will be more numerous. This is inevitable. The terrorists will not look Arab anymore. These Boston terrorists were Chechnyan, the Detroit terrorist was Nigerian." This attack has shown that there are those living in the U.S. intent on using America's freedoms to their own advantage to conduct terrorist acts.
All those interviewed emphasize the need to balance security between protecting the people and turning this country into a fortress. The former FBI official wonders if people's freedoms of religion and speech should be curtailed. He is angry that all these imams living in the U.S., including the one in Boston, speak of encouraging martyrdom and killing of infidels. "We already have some speech curtailed such as not being able to yell fire in a crowded theatre. For me, it is not freedom of religion to encourage followers to kill others on behalf of Islam. We might want to address the fact that there are imams in this country who preach to kill others and they must be restricted."
Hayden feels the solution is to have the general public resist complacency. During his final days at the CIA he warned, "It felt like September 12th at the CIA, but going out into the public it felt more and more like September 10th. We need a fair amount of vigilance, less by the NSA and the CIA and more by local law enforcement. The general public must take some responsibility to be the eyes and ears because intelligence and law enforcement cannot be everywhere. In other words, 'Keep calm, carry on, and if you see something, say something.'"
The Boston bombings have shown that there has been a lot of progress made since 9/11 about what to do after an attack. In terms of preventing attacks the question is not the why, but the who, how, and where did those living in the U.S. become radicalized. It is time for this administration to recognize that through their rhetoric and policies they have contributed to America's homeland becoming more vulnerable. Measures that have been implemented in New York, such as the frozen zones where no one can get by without being searched, the stop and frisk policy, and the infiltration of mosques to gather intelligence, should be enforced throughout the country. Due diligence is needed on the part of all Americans because the name of the game is that the Islamic Extremists are here in the U.S.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.