Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

Monday Morning Quarterbacking the Failed Christmas Attack

Posted in United States by Dan on December 30, 2009

Everyone on this side of the planet is doing some “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” over the Christmas Day terror incident.  So, naturally, here is my assessment of the entire situation.

Point number one…the U.S. needs to completely overhaul its national security system.  There is absolutely no excuse that a young man with alleged ties to Al’Qaeda (on the Arabian Peninsula) is allowed to purchase an airline boarding pass.

First of all, the fact that we have three separate lists for terrorist suspects demonstrates how inefficient the U.S. Government is.  Has our government learned nothing from the administrative mishaps of the September 11 attacks, when bureaucracy caused an immense amount of confusion?  Just as officials in Washington were clouded on that horrible Tuesday morning, U.S. agencies continue to operate as if better coordination is something to be frowned upon.

The Department of Homeland Security needs to conduct an overhaul of its counterterrorism watch list.  Here is a simple solution…cut out the middle man.  Instead of relying on three databases, why not automatically transport all the names on the “Consolidated Terrorist Watch List” to the “no-fly list?”  Chances are that the 400,000 people listed on the CTWL are suspicious enough to limit their transportation.

Heck, it may be even smart to eliminate thousands of names from TIDE in order to create a less-muddled picture of terrorist threats facing the United States.  The Irish Republican Army simply has no relevance anymore.  In fact, I do not even believe that the IRA is listed as a designated terrorist group anymore; yet we continue to look at the IRA as a group threatening to blow up cafes in Great Britain.

Time for an overhaul!

Oh and one more thing…if there is anyone in this world that U.S. Authorities should be listening to in the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallah case, it is the man’s father.  Not only does Mr., Alhaji Mutallab have the credibility of a former official inside the Nigerian Government (not exactly a squeaky-clean government, I admit), but he is a precautionary man that approached the U.S. Embassy with concerns about his son.  There is no excuse why the U.S. Government did not place Abdulmutallah on the “serious” terrorist watch-list, where he would have been physically searched and possibly denied an air ticket.  Common sense should help dictate U.S. counterterrorism policy.

-Daniel R. DePetris


13 Responses

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  1. sesanders said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Parents do not turn in their children lightly. The father’s warning should have been a big red flag! and the son should have gone on either a no-fly list or special screening list immediately!

  2. MarkMontgomery said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:01 am

    I agree with sesanders– a warning by a respected business person about their own child would be rated high in our system of crises prevention. This simply demonstrates once again that the current system is flawed.

    We have been working on this problem for 15 years. I invented a holistic semantic system that is far superior to what the U.S. Government is using — in the words of many of their own specialists, and leading scientists in CS, but to date we have had no luck in overcoming the adoption barriers facing small and emerging technology companies attempting to resolve serious problems.

    One recent blog post of mine might be of interest:

    How to prevent the Fort Hood tragedy, by design.


    Another paper written in laymen’s language is a use case scenario developed specifically for the DHS:


    We’ve invented the solution, but it has yet to be adopted, despite a significant amount of direct communications at decision levels in the past three admins.

    Mark Montgomery

    Founder – Kyield



  3. Still Free In The USA said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Im confused; where is Michael Moore? I thought Bush and Cheney were responsible for 9-11; that Cheney hid while thousands died. So if Bush and Cheney are respnsible for all this just to facilitate war; why is it they they are free? I dont get it. You guys and gals are always right about all the stuff Bush did; how bad he was. Go get em, tigers! That doggone ex-President is STILL at it! Blame George; then the Messiah can continue to bow, corrupt the Federal government by giving away “goodies for votes”…………I cant even go on, Im too sickened

  4. austin c said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:02 am

    In the advent of increasing (attempted ) friendliness toward the Muslim world by Obama and hostility against torture by some members of intelligence community, it is a common sense that a trend could exist that the both Ft Hood and Flight 253 suspects didn’t rise above the ‘noise’ level and no action be taken for the above reasons.

  5. airjackie said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:03 am

    After 8 years the enemy know the US very well. This time they used a black rich educated kid and next they will use a white rich educated kid. Yes the US is so racist and greedy it’s easy to figure out who to use. Now look for a US Judge, Prosecutor to become very welthy as this young man’s Father is one of the richest men in the World. Money always works with US Leaders. The Judge will make sure the young man never gets convicted and the Prosecutor will agree. Yes the Judge will suddenly have a 50 million dollar gift and the Prosccuter will be very rich too. You thought Paris Hilton got off because of a not being able to live in closed places and of course money to the right people. This young man knows his Father will pay for his son’t life and every excuse will be told.

  6. mlanders said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:03 am

    My husband and I lived in the ME for almost 10 years. Our flights always originated in Riyadh, change planes in Frankfurt, arrival in either Dallas or Houston. We underwent all sorts of security obstacles to board our plane. Is Germany doing a better job than Amsterdam? Did he have a “pass” through security at Amsterdam for some reason–possibly the security personnel are compromised? Where is the video of the “underpants” bomber going through security in Amsterdam? You and I both know there is surveillance tape of him, what he did while changing planes, and the personnel that did not find the explosive. This individual should have not been allowed in the United States under any circumstances.

  7. mjkoch said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:04 am

    If you feel more secure with Janet Napolitano in charge of homeland security then I feel sorry for you. The people in charge of keeping us safe do not acknowledge the existence of Islamic terrorism and want to treat these enemy combatants who want to blow up planes as common criminals who tried to rob a Seven Eleven.

    Since our 911 Islamic terrorists have murdered thousands of innocent men, women, and children in Israel, Iraq, England, Spain, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Jordan, Saudia Arabia, Tunesia, Somalia, Yemen, The Philippines, and Denmark but yet the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge that such as thing as Islamic terror exists.

    Does it make you feel much safer at night knowing the people in charge cannot see the forest thru the trees and are far left politically correct adherents? I guess after the next Islamic terrorists detonate a weapon of mass destruction in one of our cities the Obama administration will want them looked upon as merely misguided economically deprived individuals and we should have sympathy for them. This is a war, Mr. President and we need to be on a war footing with those that seek our destruction. These are NOT common criminals.

  8. bohdansz said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:04 am

    AbdulMutallab obviously didn’t belong in TIDE, but on the known terrorists’ list! This was cast in stone once the fathere reported his son’s contacts in Yemen. It is colossally sad that some brain-dead functionary at the Homeland Security almost caused a bombing that would have resulted in 500 dead! We need better common sense people, not from universities, but housewives and plumbers!

  9. jlgab said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:05 am

    For a real though rather alarming account concerning national security and our fight against terrorism, read Against All Enemies:Inside America’s War On Terror by Richard A. Clarke.

    Since we can’t (though we SHOULD) racial profile traveling passengers, we need full body x-ray screens. If we can’t afford full body x-ray screens at every gate, save a dog’s life and put a drug sniffing dog at the other gates.

  10. Anonymous said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:05 am

    What use is good intelligence if you don’t use it? The Homeland Security Department unit which routinely screens US-bound international airline passenger lists before clearing a flight for takeoff has access to the government’s classified master data

  11. janbekster said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:06 am

    One is unfamiliar with El Al procedures, but one knows that many countries have already and since a very long time, entrusted the security of their airports to special commando units, and actually fly armed commando personnel; albeit in civilian clothes, on their national carriers.

    Still, there is no watertight solution, because as the saying goes; the terrorist has to be successful once, while counter-terrorism has to be successful all the time. In addition, the a-symmetry in counter-terrorism warfare, extend to the field of finance, as the methods to fight terror become more expensive by the day, the impliments of terror are becoming exceedigly cheaper by the day.
    khairi janbek.paris/france

  12. Kunino said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Lots of issues to this story. Again, passenger gotta be doing counterterrorism by themselves. What happened to the air marshals program? Anybody ever rated it for effectiveness? I can’t offhand recall any arrests aloft by the marshals that resulted in successful anti-terror prosecutions. useful to have an air marshal aboard when a passenger turns out to be an obstreperous drunk.

    • Grant said, on December 30, 2009 at 12:08 am

      I won’t pretend that I know how many planes come and go from the U.S every day (not counting any that might be abroad) but I think it can be safely assumed that there are far more planes than there are marshals.

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