Learning from the Christmas bomber  

Posted by Denis Haack in , ,

Thomas H. Kean and John Farmer Jr., the co-chairman and senior counsel of the 9/11 commission bring some sane reflection on what the Christmas bomb attempt implies for what the U.S. must do to enhance security.

There are procedural fixes worth undertaking, of course, like mandating enhanced screening, or installing body scanning technology, or coordinating the software used by intelligence agencies, or instructing State Department personnel to query the visa status of any person reported to be suspicious. Reforming the no-fly list procedures, as President Obama has proposed, is certainly overdue. But in our view the problem runs deeper, and requires a searching look at the structure of government itself.

Despite the best efforts of the 9/11 commission and other intelligence reformers, budgetary authority over intelligence remains unaligned with substantive responsibility. Turf battles persist among intelligence agencies. Power is sought while responsibility is deflected. The drift toward inertia continues.

Government agencies are most likely to succeed when structure matches mission. With its many jurisdictional boundaries and its persistent bureaucratic fault lines, our current system, although greatly improved since 9/11, affords too many opportunities to let information slip, too many occasions for human frailty to assert itself.

Their piece, “How 12/25 Was Like 9/11,” published as in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times (January 5, 2010) can be read here.

This entry was posted at Friday, January 08, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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