January 05, 2010

Obama Cracks Whip, Connects Dots

I used to Connect the Dots. Remember those sketch books with pages of heavy pulp paper? You could look at the dots and know before you started that it was a clown or a horse, but it was still thrilling to Connect the Dots and see an actual image that you drew, sort of. I Connected a Lot of Dots in my youth.

The President, confrontation-averse as he may be, is not going to tolerate any more Dis-Connecting the Dots. He ascribes the failure to figure out that the Nigerian Underwear Bomber posed a threat to American airliners to a breakdown in "integrating and analyzing" the intelligence the U.S. already had in its possession. A couple of Dots the intelligence community might have "integrated and analyzed" included the bomber's father calling the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi and telling them, "My son poses a serious threat to your country," and the inconvenient fact that Great Britain had already pulled the bomber's visa before the Christmas incident occurred.

I had the usual sinking feeling that Obama's big meeting today was mostly PR when I heard that about "two dozen" security officials would attend. That's a sure sign it's all show, no go. If you really wanted to figure out where the breakdown happened, you would identify who screwed up before such a photo-op meeting was conducted, haul that person or those people into the Oval Office, and fire their asses. Then you could hold the big meeting and use the prior terminations as an object lesson in the perils of going to sleep on the job. Now that would be reassuring to the rest of us.

"While there will be a tendency for finger pointing, I will not tolerate it," he told the high-level officials, according to the statement.

If that makes any sense, I'm not following it. I'm having trouble Connecting the Dots. Someone or a group of people received specific, incriminating information about the Nigerian Boxer Bomber and did nothing with it. Why wouldn't Obama identify those people and point a finger at them? Of course there's a tendency to do that. It's called figuring out who screwed up. But if you hold a large enough meeting, and include lots of people who obviously had nothing to do with the error, then you can submerge the whole idea of accountability in the feel-good vibe of an Encounter Group. We're all responsible. We'll all have to do better and work together as a team. All of us must Connect the Dots.

Maybe what President O should do is to distribute Terrorist Drawing Books and No. 2 pencils to his field operatives, with Dots marked "trained in Yemen with al-Qaeda," "banned in Great Britain," "father phoned embassy with advice son is terrorist," and then the ops could draw lines and see if it looks like someone ought to be on the No-Fly list, instead of putting people like Ted Kennedy on the list, the way Bush's "Homeland Security" did. Maybe the data points, or Dots, could be arranged so that when they're all Connected, it looks like a mushroom cloud or a stick of dynamite. You know, make it fun. Then maybe the rest of us could have a blanket when we fly the red-eye coast-to-coast in a cabin pressurized at 5,000 feet.

No comments:

Post a Comment