An al-Qaeda terror attack that could easily have killed hundreds was narrowly averted on Christmas Day, thanks to a malfunctioning detonator and a heroic Dutchman. But, don’t worry; “the system worked perfectly.”
Roey Rosenblith gives his eyewitness account as a passenger on the plane.
Here are some questions worth thinking about:
Richard Fernandez: “One of them was casually revealed by the statement that there are over 500,000 names on an extended terror suspect’s list. A list with that many records is of limited utility unless it can winnowed down to a tractable set in a given situation. You really want to be able to use this data to answer specific questions like: is this man related to such and such an event or should this person fly? Simply saying that the terrorist is in the list is like saying the needle is in the haystack. It wasn’t of much use in keeping him off the plane.
So what does the architecture of the data look like? Can you run queries with joins across different agencies or across from the goverment to the private sector? Can you take one of the names on this list of a half million and find out what calls he made on such and such a date or where he’s been? What kind of metadata is in there?”
John Hinderaker: “In pursuit of Obama’s policy of “engagement” with those who hate us, has the administration loosened no-fly restrictions? Has it allowed people like Abdulmutallab to take international flights to the U.S. on the ground they are merely misunderstood ambassadors for a peaceful movement? Is the administration’s soon to be embarked upon review of how the “intelligence community” is “integrating itself” the precursor to a massive transfer of blame from Obama’s radical staffers to intelligence professionals?”
Randy Barnett: “Here is the cold hard fact of the matter that will be evaded and denied but which must never be forgotten in these discussions: Often — whether on an airplane, subway, cruise ship, or in a high school — only self defense by the “unorganized militia” will be available when domestic or foreign terrorists chose their next moment of murder. And here is the public-policy implication of this fact: It would be better if the militia were more prepared to act when it is needed.” Is there a way to offer training to able-bodied adults to help them deal with terror attacks?
Robert Spencer: “Who was the sharply dressed man” who helped Abdulmutallab board the plane in Amsterdam without a passport? “And where is he now?”
Pete Hoekstra (as summarized by Richard Fernandez):
- Has the al-Qaeda franchise in Yemen made a strategic decision to attack the United States?
- The Ft Hood shooter was also connected to Yemen, “is there a pattern”?
- Is US intelligence failing to connect the dots?
- Is the White House stonewalling on inquiries by the House?
- Is al-Qaeda evolving techniques to “get [weapons] into other environments where they can do significant damage”?
Here’s one of my own. Has al-Qaeda perceived that Obama is unlikely to respond to a terror attack in any meaningful way, and decided to launch a variety of attacks against the United States using a variety of methods to see which are most effective? There may be a sense that they have little to lose, and much to gain, from such a strategy, since Obama views terrorism as a law-enforcement problem and seems intent primarily on appeasement. The incentive structure encourages greater demands and further attacks.