Here Comes the Judge
The plot has also revealed the indispensability of good counterterrorism intelligence. A defense against terrorists, as against other enemies of the nation, must be multilayered to have a reasonable chance of being effective. One of the outer defenses is intelligence, designed to detect plots in advance so that they can be thwarted. One of the inner defenses is preventing an attack at the last minute, as by airport screening for weapons.
The inner defense would have failed in the recent episode because the equipment for scanning hand luggage does not detect liquid explosives. (The liquid-bomb threat had been known since a similar al-Qaeda plot was foiled in 1995, but virtually nothing had been done to counter it.) Fortunately, the outer defense succeeded.
Intelligence succeeded in part because of the work of MI5, England’s domestic intelligence agency. We do not have a counterpart to MI5. This is a serious gap in our defenses. Primary responsibility for national security intelligence has been given to the FBI. The bureau is a criminal investigation agency. Its orientation is toward arrest and prosecution rather than toward the patient gathering of intelligence with a view to understanding and penetrating a terrorist network.
One of the sharpest minds on the issue of intel reform and more specifically the cause of a US domestic intelligence capability. When the judge gets appointed to a post in the DNI, you’ll know real progress is on the way. Until then, keep buying PowerBall tickets.