Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dumb and Dumber

American authorities had one final chance to intercede. Before a plane can take off for the United States, details on every passenger are forwarded electronically to the Department of Homeland Security. There is also an electronic summary of each passenger’s airline reservation — which in Mr. Abdulmutallab’s case would most likely have included the fact that his ticket had been bought with cash and that he had not checked any bags. (NYT)
 Hey, before we start patting down every crotch, we might just follow some common sense--cash plus no bags on a flight from Europe?  That, by itself, should have been enough.  Which raises the question: who was more stupid the terrorists or the American officials?  While it is hard to piece together everything beforehand, this was a guy who was "most likely to commit a terrorist act."  He sent out all kinds of signals through his behavior and THROUGH HIS TEXT MESSAGES and the AQ of Yemen folks apparently were telling everyone else what was going to happen as well.  So, the bad guys were pretty dumb here. 

But we also have plenty of evidence to suggest that the US was pretty dumb, too, most especially with that quote at the top.  Again, it is easy to see that US intel bureaucracies are complex, don't like to play with each other, and the reforms of the recent past may not have made as much of a difference.

It will be interesting to see if Obama can resist the fear-mongering.  I do like the responses of the Obama administration to Cheney and the others.  But then again, their hypocrisy is pretty easy to identity


Mrs. Spew said...

I do see one bright spot -- they're now having to attempt acts with liquid chemical agents in syringes rather than metal. We've got that metal thing nailed down.

Steve Saideman said...

Another bright spot--that they have to put high explosives in the crotch (or in the rectum in one case) is going to limit how many folks want to participate. Not a great sales pitch to prospective terrorists.