Former Intelligence Officer on Foiled Bomb Attack
The Christmas Day bomb plot against a U.S. bound airliner triggered soul-searching within the administration and on Capitol Hill over why the multiple bits of troubling intelligence about alleged Nigerian perpetrator Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab weren’t pieced together in time to keep him off the Detroit-bound plane. The tips included his father’s warning to State Department officers in Lagos, and intelligence intercepts of Yemeni militants talking about recruiting a Nigerian to carry out an attack.
Last week, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told a House hearing that the criteria were too restrictive for adding names to the terrorist “watch list”, which earmarks travelers for extra scrutiny. Those restrictions have been dropped and more names added, he said. Robert Leiter, director of the National Counter-terrorism Center, faulted the government’s computer system, saying it still doesn’t have a Google-like capacity to search multiple databases at once to detect links.
Luis Rueda, who just retired as deputy director for counter-intelligence at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, begs to differ on both those analyses. Here’s what he told me Monday: