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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bureaucracy and Terror

We start chapter 15, "Bureaucracy and the Administrative State," with a discussion of the role of bureaucracy in the war on terror.  We also discuss the national security bureaucracy in chapter 19. The attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas highlights this topic.  Yesterday, President Obama noted that the suspect's father had warned American officials about his son. 
Even without this one report there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together.  We've achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists and potential terrorist attacks.  But it's becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have.

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 warning signs would have triggered red flags and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America.
As we note, a failure to share information preceded the 9/11 attacks as well.  Attempts at corrective action followed.  By executive order, President Bush established the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to serve as the central and shared knowledge bank on terrorism information. Congress established the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to coordinate the intelligence community.  An anonymous intelligence official tells The Politico:  “The United States government set up NCTC — and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — to connect the dots on terrorism. If somebody thinks it could have been done better in this case, they know where to go for answers.”