The "Systemic Failures" in Intelligence that Could Have Prevented the Flight 253 Attempted Bombing

by Jerry Gordon (January 2010)



Ms. Napolitano was criticized when she portrayed a thwarted bombing of a Detroit-bound airline on Christmas Day, 2009, as a test that the air safety system passed.

Counterterrorism experts and members of Congress were hardly willing to praise what they said was a security system that had proved to be not nimble enough to respond to the ever-creative techniques devised by would-be terrorists.

Even without this one report, there were bits of information within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together.


The Role of UCL in radicalizing Abdulmutallab

Southern California Public Radio interview with Alikhan:

This is the main sort of think tank and policy analysis shop that provides advice to the secretary, the deputy secretary, and spans over all of the different component departments of the Department of Homeland Security.

His first briefing book was a 90-page list of acronyms he’ll use on his job. He says a big part of his job will be fostering communication between agencies. Alikhan also wants to help improve America’s image with Muslims around the world.

I think a lot of people have learned from me about being Muslim, how diverse it is, how there is no real monolithic Islam out there, how Islam clearly, clearly prohibits any type of extremism or violence and absolutely condemns that.

He may get that opportunity to teach again at some of the highest levels of the federal government.

Then there is this revelation from a
about Alikhan:

Strongly anti-Israel, Alikhan has referred to the terrorist organization Hezbollah as a “liberation movement.” An affiliate of the
Muslim Public Affairs Council
, Alikhan opposed President George W. Bush’s prosecution of the war on Islamic terror.

Perhaps it was this Muslim ummah outreach initiative and DHS appointment by President Obama that sent a message to the intelligence community to lay off concerns about the doctrinal threat of Qur’anic Jihadism behind Islamic terrorism. This is reflected in a string of counterterrorism disasters chronicled by Patrick Poole in a Pajamas media review,
Washington Post report, nor would it make much difference:

The result, according to some transportation and security analysts, is an agency unable to muster the political will to make the alterations necessary to adapt to changing international threats.

But they say they doubt that Acting Administrator Gale D. Rossides, a Bush appointee, has the political connections within the Obama White House and the Democratic Congress to reinvent the agency in ways that get ahead of terrorists.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel’s, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.

“It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago,” said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He’s worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

“Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don’t take s— from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, ‘We’re not going to do this. You’re going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport.”

That, in a nutshell is “Israelification” – a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel’s largest hub, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

“The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport,” said Sela.

The first layer of actual security that greets travelers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

“Two benign questions. The questions aren’t important. The way people act when they answer them is,” Sela said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of “distress” — behavioral profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

“The word ‘profiling’ is a political invention by people who don’t want to do security,” he said. “To us, it doesn’t matter if he’s black, white, young or old. It’s just his behavior. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I’m doing this?”

Just imagine the security, efficiency and the lack of personal intrusiveness if the TSA adopted the Israeli model. Allison Kaplan Sommer made this comment about the Israeli airport security system in a

Airport security in Israel is not about what’s on your feet, or in your pockets, or — god forbid — in your underwear. It’s about what’s in your head.

While the Israeli security system is certainly not perfect, it is unlikely that
so clearly documented.

Criticism of the NCTC

The New York Times article about this intelligence debacle tried to pin the blame on the NCTC.

Note this excerpt.

President Obama was still under way. But those who led the major studies of how the United States government failed to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks watched the unfolding story of the Christmas Day attack with growing dismay.


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