Thursday, January 07, 2010

January 2009 we sent an invitation to the Underwear Bomber

 This is a slightly edited version of an important dairy written by vets74 at Daily Kos. His point is we have to stop the group think that says "It was a failure of intelligence". We need to perform a threat based analysis, and do like IKE did when he saw something he didn't like, fire somebody right quick.

Yep, son, we have met the enemy
and he is us.

       -- Walt Kelly, Pogo
There are always terrorists out there -- people crazy enough to bring down an airliner or toss a pipe bomb. Back in the 1970s in New York City and Birmingham in the 1960s, we had hundreds of bombs go off. Arab crazies, calling themselves "al-Qaeda," were more of the same.
Terrorists have motive. But to succeed at big attacks, terrorists need big opportunities.
Every one of the big attacks and blunders started with our own dysfunctional middle-managers and "Security Intellectuals."
Over the last twenty years, our enemy... he is us.

Admiral Mullen gave a nice talk today -- but he doesn't know that his beloved Navy got used like a rented mule to set up the Northwest Flight 253 attack.
Naval Postgraduate School -- Center for Homeland Defense and Security, January 2009:
Published the details: TSA had decided not to detect explosives at overseas airports.
al-Q took 11 months to respond.
Scoping. Hardball management tools implemented originally at the behest of Dwight Eisenhower BTF :::

This morning Admiral Mullen -- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- gave a forward looking, get-down-serious presentation: Current State & Mission of the Military.
Protecting the country got attention. Here is what Admiral Mullen focused on:
The admiral... added that he encouraged the debate about moving America's effort away from Iraq and to Afghanistan, where "I put my best people in my number one priority."
He identified his priorities as the broader Middle East and "the missions I've got."
The admiral responded to one question acknowledging that there is far more sharing of information among the military branches and agencies than there was prior to 9/11. But he also bluntly admitted that the Dec. 25 failed terror attempt demonstrates that no system is perfect and even more needs to be done. That incident "was a wake up call," Adm. Mullen added, in responding to a different question.
To another student, the Admiral said that the information that is gathered and examined often needs to look at "anomalies." So-called "actionable intelligence and actionable information" must be acted upon quickly, but how to make that happen is under review, he said to still another student.
Admiral Mullen has no idea that his Navy provided the Internet site, through which the TSA explosives-detection hole was publicized.
The Terrorist Threat to Inbound U.S. Passenger Flights: Inadequate Government Response
-- that is the web site of:
Homeland Security Affairs
The Journal of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security

The Admiral is playing the wrong game.
Admiral Mullen thinks that somebody out in Teheran or Kabul or points-east is going to be our military's next big problem.
Along with doing 17-days in GroupThink Rehab, The Admiral would do well to focus on what has happened over the last twenty years that has damaged America.
His own Navy is part of the problem.
Similar to Walt Kelly, a guy name of Harold Geneen cast the problem to a management perspective:
       In business the competition are rivals.
       The enemy is middle-management.

Your own people are your nastiest problems.
This is what the dominant GroupThink does not understand.
All of the big blunders and big terrorist attacks have involved self-generated failures from the start.
Let's look at three examples:
  1. Suicide-hijacking after Christmas holidays of 1994, when "Afghanistan" veterans seized Air France Flight 8969 and tried to crash it into the Eiffel Tower. FAA "security intellectuals" decided not to install basic procedures and cockpit upgrades, ignoring both Air France and ICAO recommendations.
  1. Invading Iraq on the basis of bogus information counterfeited by "defense intellectuals" working with Rumsfeld and Cheney.
  1. The PETN explosives attack on Northwest Flight 253. A TSA "security intellectual" published a detailed account of this vulnerability in foreign airports in the Navy's HSAJ in January 2009.
The Air France Flight 8969 suicide-hijacking was the top news story worldwide 1994 over the Christmas holidays.
Everyone in aviation knew about it.
The story of how France's GIGN stormed the plane and rescued the passengers has to be the # 1 piece of anti-terrorism heroism. (America got to hear George Bush carry on about how the French are wimps....)
Air France says that upgrading their cockpit doors was a $200 problem, per plane. (Compare/contrast with George Bush in 2001.)
Then the dozen or so connected "defense intellectuals" covered themselves with infamy by helping get America to attack the wrong country. Attacking Iraq was "the worst foreign policy mistake of the last 50 years." We haven't heard a word about pulling the security clearances of that gang. Not a word about putting that crew on No Access/No Contact lists at DHS and DoD.
George Bush would not have been able to pull off attacking Iraq without complicity from that pack of rats.
Now we get to January 2009. It is more of the same thing.

The Terrorist Threat to Inbound U.S. Passenger Flights: Inadequate Government Response
Anthony Fainberg is a physicist and analyst, specializing in national security affairs. He recently retired from the federal government, following service in several agencies and departments, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Defense Department, as well as in the former congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). ... Mr. Fainberg can be contacted at
al-Qaeda has had this document wide open, Google-able since January 2009:
-- ...explosive trace residue detection technology, currently deployed in the United States, could help mitigate this threat, this essay urges that the United States require the application of such technology overseas on flights inbound to the United States. In the past, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been reluctant to act in this direction...
-- newer models of detectors devised by the TSA to counter that particular threat are being pilot tested in the United States but are not (as of this writing) being tested abroad. It would appear that the United States is reluctant to deploy effective technologies outside the country, even on a test basis.
-- Why has the TSA decided not to provide passengers on U.S.-bound flights from foreign airports with the same explosives detection equipment required for securing domestic air travel? The answer is unclear.
-- There are several such technologies, not only in existence but also widely deployed in the United States. These include computerized tomography scanning systems for checked baggage (which is not required of inbound flights from overseas) and for some cargo; use of canine olfactory capabilities; and various explosive trace residue and vapor detectors for passengers, carry-on baggage, checked baggage, and cargo. Other nations do use some of these techniques, but the United States does not require their use on incoming flights to provide equivalent levels of security to those that exist domestically.
So helpful.
The Navy could have sent somebody over to Amsterdam to help Mr. Abdulmutallab with his bag....
Admiral Mullen is not going to fix these problems by himself. That's going to take Obama and the presidency.
Play a very tight form of security hard-ball.
Think like Eisenhower on one of his very best projects.
You start on Day # 1 with the assumption that every single one of the Dedicated Public Servants tagged as a "security intellectual" carries a probability of going bat-shit crazy.
What else ???
Then trust, but verify.
Seriously, verify everything. Every information feed. Every physical defense system. Every Committee Report that can tweak budget to one use or another. Check for holes -- the holes that our own people generate.
Make sure that the big threats, the meat-and-potatoes threats are taken care of.
Middle-management is what you have to worry about. This is the group where you find embezzlement in companies, where you get sabotage and Internet-outed secrets from this "defense intellectual" crowd.
Eisenhower had one helluva time of it when he arrived in town after the election in 1952.
Puerto Ricans had tried to gun Truman at Blair House. McCarthy was like having Glenn Beck in the Senate. Lynchings were getting rarer, but he was going to have to send in the Army to enforce basic law. Korea was still a shooting war. At least they hadn't marketed computers....
One thing that Ike did like was the team who had given Truman his daily situation briefings. At least somebody in town was non-ideological, could organize an argument (including history), and understood results.
During Eisenhower's two Administrations a solid professional operation was developed that continued to perform apolitically and without White House interference for thirty years and more. Successes far outnumbered major errors. For example: when Jack Kennedy came in, he was able to work with Deiter Schwebs, get everything validated through this research operation and the National Labs, then make enormous strides -- working with the Russians and then the Chinese to assure that nuclear weapons would be built so that the weapons would be virtually impossible for an unauthorized individual to set off.
Big whoop.
If the shop hadn't validated Schwebs, right off, that could have taken another 20 years... maybe a nuke war or two.
-- A first-rate Threat Based Analysis team that only works for its boss -- head of Clandestine Operations worked 1960s into the 1970s -- and the President and the country.
-- They didn't have computers to worry about, so a separate Independent Quality Control op was not quite on the horizon.
Process matters.
Now we do not control our own people.
We lack professional Threat Based Analysis and Independent Quality Control.
We do not have the basic tools.
GroupThink has our top management people -- President Obama and Admiral Muller, for two -- focused on external bad actors. Internal blunders and breakage have not been tracked on the basis of nailing internal bad actors.
Its time "they" made you go to Rehab, guys.
The core reality is that Washington Budget Wars lead to the very strangest behaviors.
Like something out of George Orwell's 1984:
Failure gets bigger budgets.
These guys can generate failure over and over and over.
Basically, we knew that Threat Based Analysis was in big, big trouble, when it came out in 2003 that suicide-hijacking had received no effective attention at FAA from 1995 on -- and that there was nothing in the works anywhere in the Federal bureaucracy to force competent response.
-- No Threat Based Analysis shop.
-- No Independent Quality Control.
And on and on it goes.
GroupThink dominates reality-testing, the most obvious pattern for damage, any and all of the tools of Inductive Logic.