We now know that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (spellings vary; all are phonetically derived from the Arabic) has been on a U.S. government list of persons with known or suspected ties to terrorist organizations for at least the past two years. This apparently has led the oh-so-cerebral Obama administration to engage in a bit of soul-searching:
President Barack Obama’s aides are pondering how the government is using terror watch lists after the botched airliner attack in Detroit on Christmas Day.
Obama’s national security and policy advisers are asking questions such as: How is the intelligence community integrating itself? Did the assumptions used to make terror watch list choices lead to the correct decisions? Were the right criteria used to reach conclusions?
Such internal questions among Obama’s team marked the informal start to what would likely become a formal executive branch inquiry into an attack that failed–not because of the intelligence community but because, it appears, the suspect’s material failed to ignite.
Pardon me if I’m being overly cynical here, but we know the Obama administration has backed off on any number of the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies on the ground that they were too draconian. In pursuit of Obama’s policy of “engagement” with those who hate us, has the administration loosened no-fly restrictions? Has it allowed people like Abdulmutallab to take international flights to the U.S. on the ground they are merely misunderstood ambassadors for a peaceful movement? Is the administration’s soon to be embarked upon review of how the “intelligence community” is “integrating itself” the precursor to a massive transfer of blame from Obama’s radical staffers to intelligence professionals?
Hey, at this point it’s just a hunch. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Abdulmutallab has been on a list of persons with terrorist connections for around two years, and in November, his father, former economics minister of Nigeria and former Chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria, reported his son’s radical politics and possible terrorist sympathies to the American embassy in Nigeria. The elder Abdulmutallab says that he is “‘surprised’ his son had been allowed to travel after he had reported him to the authorities.” And Great Britain refused to grant Abdulmutallab a visa when he tried to return to England in May.
So the Obama administration has some serious spinning to do.