Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Flight 253: Obama's "Systemic Failure" Versus Napolitano's "The System Worked"

The Administration has changed course signficantly on the attempted terrorist attack by Umar Abdulmutallab.

Initially, Janet Napolitano claimed (and was roundly criticized for claiming) that the "system worked" in preventing the attack.

Now, President Obama is saying that the intelligence agencies made major mistakes in not identifying Abdulmutallab as a threat and preventing him from boarding the flight.

The red flags and mistakes included:
  • Abdulmutallab's father had asked the US Embassy to look for him.
  • There was information that al Qaeda in Yemen had discussed a Nigerian preparing for a terrorist attack.
  • Abdulmutallab's name was put on the large 550,000 person "watch list" but not on the smaller (approximately 15,000 person) no-fly list.

Maureen Dowd (in today's column, here) and others are now talking about "full-body imaging" as a new technology that may get a second look in light of this incident. Dowd is quite critical of Obama's overly-detached manner:

In his usual inspiring/listless cycle, he once more appeared chilly in his response to the chilling episode on Flight 253, issuing bulletins through his press secretary and hitting the links. At least you have to seem concerned.

399. Obama implied (without overtly saying) that people will lose their jobs because of this incident. Any chance that Napolitano is forced to step down?

400. How many flights are there from Nigeria to the United States each day? What American cities do they fly to?

401. The articles about Napolitano's poorly-chosen words keep referencing "Heckuva job, Brownie." What is Michael Brown doing these days? Did he write a book? Oh my goodness, I just googled Brown, and it turns out that he's been hired by the University of Denver law school to teach a course about the Patriot Act (the story is here).

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