I'm going to preface this by saying I really have no idea what I'm talking about. If that offends you in any way, please move on - I'm too sick to fight today and if you're mean I'll probably end up crying in a corner. Seriously. (Also, I've been watching Season 2 of Grey's and dude, did you realize that's where our (my) culturally (personally) compulsive use of 'seriously' as a standalone statement came from? Yeah, me neither.) You've heard about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and his underwear bomb, right? If you're the tiniest sprinter, you probably haven't, because you don't do news, so I'll do a one sentence summation. A jackass-murderer-type from Nigeria got onto an airplane with explosive powder hidden in the crotch of his underwear and tried to explode it during the last hour of a flight into Detroit - at which point his pants caught on fire, a fellow passenger tackled him and put the fire out, he was arrested, and everyone was fine.
President Obama, who I love wholeheartedly, is pissed. He is demanding a full report by today on how this happened, and in a speech he gave on Tuesday he said:
"Had this critical information been shared, it could have been compiled with other intelligence and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged," the president said. "The warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America."
The critical information he's referring to is this:
"CBS News has learned that as early as August of 2009 the Central Intelligence Agency was picking up information on a person of interest dubbed 'The Nigerian,' suspected of meeting with 'terrorist elements' in Yemen. Sources tell CBS News 'The Nigerian' has now turned out to be Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. ... CBS News has learned this information was not connected until after the attempted Christmas Day bombing."
This is where my lack of knowledge comes in. Having never worked for the CIA, I don't actually know how much intelligence is generated. However, if you assume that they're sifting through direct intelligence from people in the field, overheard intelligence from monitoring that they're doing, and intelligence passed on from other gov't agencies and your average person on the street, it seems like it's probably quite a task. Then add in the fact that NO one wants to be the person that failed to report some half-assed info that in fact pointed to the next act of terror, so every single thing that has anything to do with anything will be handed over.
That's a lot of information. For every single piece of information that comes in that points to 'the Nigerian' meeting with 'terrorist elements', I have to imagine there are 20,000 pieces that point to 'the Swede/Saudi/Iranian/Turk/Czech/South African/Canadian' meeting with 'Al Qaeda/the oil conglomerates/Bill Gates/Saddam Hussein's psychotic son/Joe Lieberman/your mom/the leaders of the revolcion'. I'm being glib, I know. It's intentional because I bet that some tips are on par with 'hey CIA, did you know my neighbor is hiding Elvis in his basement and he's plotting with the aliens to blow up the Space Needle?'
Yes, I think it's truly frightening that this man made it onto an airplane with an explosive in his underwear. I applaud his complete failure in building a working bomb and I hope he goes away (to an actual prison, not some freaky land-of-the-lost torture facility) for a VERY long time. Like, forever.
But honestly - who knows what the CIA knew and when they knew it. If they heard a rumor about a Nigerian four months ago, I'm not sure what Obama expected them to do about it now. Stop every Nigerian that's getting on a flight bound for America? Do we even have that kind of authority in international airports?
Full body scan me next time I go to the airport - I don't mind. But if I were to do something stupid and terroristy (WHICH I WILL NOT BE DOING), don't point to this blog post and ask the FBI why they didn't put a 24 hour watch on me. Because there is a lot going on in a world of 6 billion people, and there is no way to track it all. Security is an excellent goal - omnipotence is going a little far.
CIA, I got your back. And if the FBI does in fact now put a 24 hour watch on me, I'd appreciate it if you'd have mine.