What the government knew about the underwear bomber's plans

Rick Moran
If you heard the president's second statement on the terrorist act on Christmas day, you might be excused for wondering who was in charge. The president's claim of "systemic failure" was fine - except he refused to take responsibility for the fact that it was his system that failed.

The more I read what Obama said, the more bizarre it gets. This from Carl Hulse and Peter Baker writing in the New York Times:

The debate has escalated since Mr. Obama's secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, said Sunday that "the system worked" after officials said the suspect tried to ignite explosive chemicals aboard a Northwest Airlines flight approaching Detroit. Ms. Napolitano made clear the next day that she had meant the system worked in its response to the attempted bombing, not before it happened.Mr. Obama appeared to be trying to contain the damage on Tuesday, offering "systemic failure" as a substitute diagnosis for "system worked." He framed Ms. Napolitano's statement by saying she was right that "once the suspect attempted to take down Flight 253, after his attempt, it's clear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems and our aviation security took all appropriate actions."

"[O]nce the suspect attempted to take down Flight 253, after his attempt..." What kind of double talk is that? Only quick witted passengers saved the day on Flight 253 with absolutely no help from DHS, or any other federal agency. How can anyone in their right mind praise anything done by any federal agency in this disaster?

That much is clear from the facts as they are coming out regarding what the government knew prior to the terrorist attack:

Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of Al Qaeda there were talking about "a Nigerian" being prepared for a terrorist attack. While the information did not include a name, officials said it would have been evident had it been compared with information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Christmas Day.

The government also had more information about where Mr. Abdulmutallab had been and what some of his plans were.

Some of the information was partial or incomplete, and it was not obvious that it was connected, the official said, but in retrospect it now appears clear that had it all been examined together it would have pointed to the pending attack. The official said the administration was "increasingly confident" that Al Qaeda had a role in the attack, as the group's Yemeni branch has publicly claimed.

The question of why the information was not shared with domestic counterterror agencies may reveal the real problem with Obama's approach to fighting terrorism. The "systemic failure" of which the president speaks may involve a culture in government that discourages such information exchanges - especially those that involve intel gleaned from overseas. It would be in keeping with Obama's notion that this is a law enforcement problem and that the rights of those traveling to America must be protected.

I think Cheney has it right; these guys aren't as serious about terrorism as the Bush people. It's just not at the top of their "to do" lists.

That better change or we're going to have a lot of dead Americans very soon.

 

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

If you heard the president's second statement on the terrorist act on Christmas day, you might be excused for wondering who was in charge. The president's claim of "systemic failure" was fine - except he refused to take responsibility for the fact that it was his system that failed.

The more I read what Obama said, the more bizarre it gets. This from Carl Hulse and Peter Baker writing in the New York Times:

The debate has escalated since Mr. Obama's secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, said Sunday that "the system worked" after officials said the suspect tried to ignite explosive chemicals aboard a Northwest Airlines flight approaching Detroit. Ms. Napolitano made clear the next day that she had meant the system worked in its response to the attempted bombing, not before it happened.

Mr. Obama appeared to be trying to contain the damage on Tuesday, offering "systemic failure" as a substitute diagnosis for "system worked." He framed Ms. Napolitano's statement by saying she was right that "once the suspect attempted to take down Flight 253, after his attempt, it's clear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems and our aviation security took all appropriate actions."

"[O]nce the suspect attempted to take down Flight 253, after his attempt..." What kind of double talk is that? Only quick witted passengers saved the day on Flight 253 with absolutely no help from DHS, or any other federal agency. How can anyone in their right mind praise anything done by any federal agency in this disaster?

That much is clear from the facts as they are coming out regarding what the government knew prior to the terrorist attack:

Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of Al Qaeda there were talking about "a Nigerian" being prepared for a terrorist attack. While the information did not include a name, officials said it would have been evident had it been compared with information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Christmas Day.

The government also had more information about where Mr. Abdulmutallab had been and what some of his plans were.

Some of the information was partial or incomplete, and it was not obvious that it was connected, the official said, but in retrospect it now appears clear that had it all been examined together it would have pointed to the pending attack. The official said the administration was "increasingly confident" that Al Qaeda had a role in the attack, as the group's Yemeni branch has publicly claimed.

The question of why the information was not shared with domestic counterterror agencies may reveal the real problem with Obama's approach to fighting terrorism. The "systemic failure" of which the president speaks may involve a culture in government that discourages such information exchanges - especially those that involve intel gleaned from overseas. It would be in keeping with Obama's notion that this is a law enforcement problem and that the rights of those traveling to America must be protected.

I think Cheney has it right; these guys aren't as serious about terrorism as the Bush people. It's just not at the top of their "to do" lists.

That better change or we're going to have a lot of dead Americans very soon.

 

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky