While we're waiting for the President to tell us who failed to "connect the dots" to nab the Pantybomber before he boarded a Detroit-bound flight and nearly killed 288 innocent people, here's a related question: What ever happened to that FBI "internal inquiry" into how and why our domestic intelligence whizzes failed to act in time on the knowledge that the Fort Hood jihadist killer, Nidal Hasan, had been emailing a radical imam and al Qaeda recruiter in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki?
We now know that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab met with Awlaki when the Nigerian suicide bomber was in Yemen for talks with al Qaeda big wigs. We also know that U.S intelligence and the Yemeni government regard Awlaki as a dangerous guy and, in fact, tried (unsuccessfully it appears) on December 24th to kill him.
Unmistakably, Awlaki has been known to the U.S. intelligence community of which the FBI is a key part as a very bad guy. Yet, as I blogged shortly after the Fort Hood murders, National Security Agency intercepts of up to 20 emails between Hasan and Awlaki were sent to the FBI which "analyzed" them and decided that the chummy relationship between a serving Army officer and a jihadist mouthpiece did not warrant any further scrutiny of Hasan. Had anyone at the FBI bothered to look, they would have found a wealth of other "dots" to connect with this one, namely reports from Hasan's Army colleagues and bosses that the guy was, at the least, unhinged.
Remember, immediately after the Fort Hood massacre on November 5th, while the blood was still on the ground, unnamed FBI "sources" were telling the media that there was no "terrorism nexus." For many days, the agency did its damnedest to keep feeding confusion about the glaringly obvious fact that Hasan was a jihadist. As late as November 10th, after reports about Hasan's contacts with Awlaki were all over the media, the FBI had this to say to an incredulous CBS News:
"At this point, there is no information to indicate Major Malik Nidal Hasan had any co-conspirators or was part of a broader terrorist plot. The investigation to date has not identified a motive, and a number of possibilities remain under consideration."A number of frigging possibilities?
It's 100% clear that the FBI was stalling and evading for weeks because it dearly wished to escape blame and accountability for its patent failure at dot connecting. The agency's leaders knew that if they shuffled long enough and eventually launched an "internal inquiry," the heat would die down and they'd be in the clear. They were right, weren't they? When was the last time you heard anything about the inquiry, which is being run -- get this -- by former FBI Director William Webster?
The most amazing political and bureaucratic success story of post-9/11 period has been the FBI's ability to fend off any encroachment on the domestic counter-intelligence role it has held since before World War II. In the old days, maybe it was because everyone in Washington feared (with good reason) that J. Edgar Hoover had some dirt on them. But what's the reason now?
Yesterday, President Obama appeared to be standing by his whole national security team, even while declaring that the "system failed." Let's hope he takes that a step further today and actually holds someone responsible -- for the failure at Fort Hood as well as the one on Christmas Day.
What's your opinion? Post a comment.
UPDATE -- I just watched President Obama's remarks on action following up the latest security review. Unfortunately, he's sticking to his no-blame approach, saying the problem was "systemic" so "reforms" are needed and in any case, the buck stops with him. Here's the thing, though: unless he really knocks heads and someone gets fired, a couple of months from now, the modified "system" will slip back onto auto pilot.
UPDATE 2 -- Hmmm. Today, someone leaked to CBS News a portion of the still-classified and unreleased Pentagon report on the dot-connection failure in the Fort Hood case. My take? The FBI did it on the classic PR theory that it would go largely unnoticed on the day Obama, Napolitano and Brennan dominated the media on the Pantybomber. Yet, it would be regarded in the future as a story already covered and, thus, "old news" by most of the media. Notice that the CBS story barely mentions "FBI."