Michael Leiter is the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). His organization was formed in 2004 specifically to analyze and distribute terrorism intelligence. Dennis Blair who is the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) is over Leiter. Blair has been in the middle of a turf war with CIA Director Leon Panetta. Blair lost. Maybe someone was too busy licking their wounds, and perhaps building a wall between the DNI, the White House and the CIA? Update: Another thought is former
CIA, Michael Schueur’s warning that an event, just like this one, may
be used to “clog” the intelligence pipeline. See links to that discussion below.
I heard a CIA spokesman say this week that every bit of information that comes into the CIA, automatically goes directly to the NCTC as well. The CIA says the NCTC was notified immediately when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s father visited the agency in Nigeria and said he thought his son might a part of a planned terrorist attack. At the same time, both agencies knew about an unnamed terrorist, referred to as “The Nigerian.” The CIA knew about the unidentified “Nigerian” in August 2009, and if all intelligence goes to the NCTC, then that agency knew about it as well. But no dots were connected in November 2009 when the Christmas Day bomber’s father gave-up his son.
According to Michael Leiter’s own words, he is responsible for “effectively integrating counterterrorism intelligence…across agency boundaries…” And more from the NCTC website:
The NCTC is “the primary source for all information relating to international terrorist identities in TSDB [Transportation Security Database].
That’s not all. The website says the “office of the Director of National Intelligence (NI) [Dennis C. Blair] is over the NCTC Director, Michael Leiter, and NCTC is “the primary organization in the U.S….for analyzing and integrating all intelligence possesed or acauired by the U.S….”
What were these people doing August – November 2009? What was Blair doing? What was Leiter doing?
In a statement from Dennis C. Blair on December 31, Blair said the bomber “did not succeed.” Abdulmutallab did not achieve his ultimate goal, but he greatly damaged an aircraft and terrified over 300 passengers and crew. The terrorist made it on the airliner and into the air. Al-Qaeda views that as fairly successful.
In coming days we will review what information was available to whom,
determine what mistakes were made in assessing or sharing that
information, commend those who did their jobs well, and hold
accountable those who did not. I have no doubt in our ability to close
the gaps that these attacks exposed.
I’m waiting for that announcement – the names of the guilty, and it won’t be the name of a Central Intelligence agent, if the truth be told and if the agency is not hung out to dry.
Regardless of the assertions of Obama’s Deputy Assistant and Deputy National Security Adviser, John Brennan, and Michael Leiter, his January 2, 2010 statement insisted the the event was a failure, and the two paragraphs are his complete statement:
The failed attempt to destroy Northwest Flight 253 is the starkest of reminders of the insidious terrorist threats we face. While this attempt ended in failure we know with absolute certainty that Al-Qa’ida and those who support its ideology continue to refine their methods to test our defenses and pursue an attack on the Homeland.
Our most sacred responsibility is to be focused on our mission – detecting and preventing terrorist attacks from happening on our soil and against U.S. interests. The American people expect and deserve nothing less.
Where was that “sacred focus” in October, November and December 2009?
Perhaps the answer is that Dennis Blair was in a pout over his lost-battle with the CIA.
Blair wanted to appoint non-CIA personnel to positions as America’s intelligence chiefs abroad. CIA Director, Leon Panetta was having none of it. After a much-too-lengthy deliberation period by the White House, Panetta and the CIA won the battle. That decision put Blair’s authority and that of his NCTC in doubt.
David Ignatius, writing about the intelligence wars, says the decision made was the correct one, and explains Blair’s responsibilities:
…the CIA should accept that Blair’s DNI is really, truly the president’s
adviser on intelligence matters. The DNI controls the daily flow of
analysis to the executive branch. Over time, that means the role
traditionally played by CIA analysts should flow to the DNI — so that
we have an elite cadre of all-source analysts similar to Britain’s
Joint Intelligence Committee. Panetta should accept that diminution of
And here is Ignatius’ assessment of the DNI:
The problem here, really, is with the intelligence reorganization that
created the DNI shop in the first place — in theory, to avoid the kind
of intelligence failures that led to 9/11. That reorganization was a
bad idea from the start; it created unnecessary new layers of
bureaucracy — the DNI now has about 1,500 people, partly duplicating
jobs that used to be done by the CIA. But worse, the reorganization has
added to the very bureaucratic tensions it was supposed to avoid.
You’ll be enlightened after reading David Ignatius’ article , Intelligence turf war has to be reconciled, written on June 14th, 2009.
This minute, I’m listening to John Brennan on FOXNews say there was “no smoking gun, no single piece of information saying this guy is a terrorist.”
Here’s the truth of the American feeling about terrorism: we know filtering out the terrorists is a really tough job, and we would feel much more charitable toward those held responsible for the filtering, if we were confident they actually looked at each and every person, or even the majority of persons, fitting the profile of a terrorist. That doesn’t happen, and it grinds at our gut.
Is this what America is facing? Will there be lawsuits filed against
numerous airlines for taking disruptive Muslims off of flights? As Larwyn
(with some of my thoughts woven in) says: “Pregnant/and/or/Pious
Females in Burkas…Religious Conferences couched as vacations,
transgendered Arabs looking for a way to 72 virgins through their
underpants…is this the new normal?
Other recent airline “events:”
Muhammad Abu Tahir is AirTran Flight 39 Passenger Threw Shoes
AirTran Flight 175 Muslim Family Removed – lawsuit alert
Related and Background:
Noteworthy News on Abdulmutallab: Eric Holder’s Federal not Military Court
Other Airline Terrorists:
Shoe Bomber Richard Reid Wins: Terrorism and Jihad wins