The Big Unconnected Dot: We Underestimated Al Qaeda in Yemen

Posted on January 7, 2010


Boy is Nancy Pelosi lucky.  All the focus for the next few days will be on assessing the Administration’s handling of the Detroit Diaper bomber’s  thwarted attempt to bring an aircraft down.  Few will be focusing on the health care legislation that will bring the country down.  So Nancy, just continue to “hunker down behind the walls of suspicion and distrust” and bring that health care legislation out into the open soon. [The President 1/07/2010]

The President put on quite the corporate review. In my living room I felt as if I were in an auditorium on a folding chair listening to my CEO’s annual report.  He gave the obligatory “the buck stops here” statement but basically the message was that he had reviewed the situation, connected the dots better than anyone and had ordered up monthly reports. Surely Obama took summer courses at Wharton.

He then turned dot tracking management over to his Assistant for Homeland Security and Counter terrorism, John Brennan, who gave us the bottom line: we underestimated al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula.  They had shifted from aspirational planning for attacks to implementation. We knew there had been an increase in activity to recruit people to carry out attacks but no one knew they were ready to launch.  He ended with a nervous remark about how we have been amazingly safe for so long…well, you know the words and music.

Then the dots were passed to DHS Head, Janet Napolitano who provided her own crisp outline of projected areas of reform lacking only the Powerpoint visuals:

1 Procedures and practices for creation of watch list revamped.

2. DHS and Dept of Energy will meld to keep ahead of new developments in scanning technology.

3. Purchase even more advanced scanners.  Will encourage foreign states to do all they can to scan.

4. More air marshals

5. State Dept. Standards for Aviation Security review.

There were questions and answers with Brennan often stepping out to answer ones directed at Napolitano.  Her head may not have rolled but she is on an awfully short leash.

OK – mark your calendars. Within 30 days we need to see those updated reports the President has ordered. Don’t you feel better already? Sadly the reality about database integration, procedures and practices reviews, etc.  is that these things cannot be completed within a month’s time. Progress reports ad nauseum for 2010 and beyond.

And to our al Qaeda audience in Yemen, don’t worry, not much will change and, as always, we will stumble upon a way to let you know precisely what we are doing.

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