It bodes poorly for the Republic when you read that we actively avoid the use of information that can save our lives.
Intelligence about terror threats rarely comes on such a silver platter: A Nigerian banker went to the U.S. Embassy in Lagos to warn that his son had fallen under “the influence of religious extremists based in Yemen” and was a security risk. This came after months of U.S. intelligence intercepts about al Qaeda plans for an attack using a Nigerian man. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab paid for his ticket with cash and didn’t check any luggage.
Yet a headline in the Washington Post summed up the current state of our intelligence: “Uninvestigated Terrorism Warning About Detroit Suspect Called Not Unusual.”
The Obama administration has leaned toward treating terrorism as a matter for domestic law enforcement, such as trying terrorists in civilian courts instead of in military tribunals. But this legalistic culture also undermined intelligence in the Fort Hood case in November. The FBI knew that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had been exchanging emails with a Yemen-based imam with ties to the 9/11 hijackers. The agency, operating by the standards of domestic law enforcement instead of applying information to prevention, surmised that the “content was explainable by his research” and failed to warn the Army of its potential risk.
If there is any one thing Bush got right, more so than any of his competitors and detractors, it was understanding that this was a ‘war paradigm,’ not a ‘law enforcement paradigm.’ Obama seems eager to reverse that policy, and people are going die unnecessarily because of it. Indeed, using the Fort Hood shooting as an example, they already have died because of it.