Five thoughts about the Undie Bomber:
1. This attack wasn’t some unprecedented, sophisticated plot carried out by a wily terrorist enemy constantly searching for ways to strike at the soft underbelly of American national security. This was vintage al Qaeda, circa 2001. The plot looked eerily similar to the Shoe Bomber. It was directed against what was supposed to be one of our most hardened targets: aviation. And it was carried out by a foreign national — not some sleeper cell of US citizens — who had already raised some flags in the system and whose own father ratted him out. From an intelligence perspective, it doesn’t get easier than this.
2. In both the Shoe and Undie Bomber cases, it was the agility of passengers, not the agility of US intelligence agencies, that made the difference.
3. But don’t go blaming the CIA. The agency formerly known as central was demoted after 9/11. Centralizing terrorism-related intelligence is supposed to be done by a new agency called the National Counter Terrorism Center (whose “24”-like offices were designed by a Disney team. No joke). If you want to understand what went wrong, start here.
4. Shame on Senator Jim DeMint, who is holding up the confirmation hearing of Erroll Southers, Obama’s nominee to head TSA and a first-class public servant.
5. This plot was hatched in Yemen and Nigeria. Just two of the roughly 60 countries in which al Qaeda operates. So why exactly are we putting more blood and treasure into Afghanistan?