Professor says blaming Obama counterproductive for Natl. Security
Professor J Zelizer, PrincetonObama was spot on when he said that the airline incident had resulted from a "systematic failure" in our counterterrorism operations. "When our government has information on a knownextremist and that information is not shared and acted on as it should have been, so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could cost nearly 300 lives, a systematic failure has occurred," he said.
A Princeton University Professor of US History and Public Affairs has said that blaming the President regarding the national security failure on Christmas Day is counter productive, and that Obama is correct in his assertion that the CIA had an internal failure of its surveillance system.
Professor J Zelizer says that a bipartisan approach is the valid and reasonable one, and that blaming and partisan games are irresponsible. A broad analysis done by an external agency of our entire homeland security system is what is needed.
Not only was the Nigerain national on board Delta NW flight 253 an easy person to prohibit in his travels, says the professor, but that he sailed through security scans with high explosives on his person is very telling. It has been 9 years since the WTC attacks, and that is ample time to have a systemic protocol which works with relative ease. This protocol, says Zelizer, is what must be readjusted and honed for solutions which are adjusted to the new realities and which really work, and not a focusing on Obama nor his party.
Rather than spending the next few months with each party attacking the other for being responsible, what would be more useful is to have a bipartisan and independent 9/11 Commission-style review of our homeland security programs to see where the holes are and where the system can be improved.
While Obama has promised a review of intelligence systems under the direction of John O. Brennan, the president's top counterterrorism advisor, a much broader analysis will be needed -- one that covers the entire homeland security system, is independent of the executive branch, and is bipartisan in the composition of its membership. The panel would have to invite testimony from allies from around the world to better understand how the global anti-terrorism program is working.
The Christmas incident made clear several problems. The first is that we are still having trouble connecting the dots. This was one of the main problems that revealed in the examination into 9/11; authorities had a substantial amount of information about the perpetrators but they failed to share it with each other or to put the story together.
Intelligence agents from this country are usually dealing with scattered and incomplete information. But given how much was known in this case, including Britain's decision to deny renewal of his visa and to put him on a list to prohibit him from coming back into the U.K., as well as warnings that the CIA had heard from his father, there seems to have been sufficient evidence for international authorities at some point in this process to take stronger preemptive action.
A second question has to do with airline security. Once the decision was made to allow him to fly, it is simply confounding that he was able to bring high explosives on board with relative ease. As UCLA professor Amy Zegart, the author of the best book on intelligence reform, recently told the New York Times: "This textbook Al Qaeda 2001. They tried to hit the hardest target we have, the one on which the most money and attention has been spent since 2001. And yet we didn't prevent it."
The government must review our airline security program. In Politico, Josh Gerstein provided a useful analysis of issues that must receive more consideration now. For example, more thought will have to be given to allowing for the assemblage of a more expansive "no-fly" list. Governments will need to think about additional funding for installing whole-body imaging technology for airports that has been slowed down by privacy concerns and budgetary limitations.