In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Can we have it both ways?

I decided today that being a spy chief must be one of the most stressful jobs.

These thoughts were prompted as I read an AFP article highlighting the fact that president Obama has complained about a disastrous intelligence "screw-up" regarding the failed bombing of a Northwest jet on Christmas by a young Nigerian man named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. James Jones, Obama's national security adviser, commented regarding this incident, that Americans would feel a "certain shock" when they read about systemic failures in intelligence operations designed to keep them safe. The article I read said that a confidential source had revealed that in a private meeting with the spy chiefs in the White House Situation Room, President Obama told the chiefs that: "this was a screw-up that could have been disastrous".

Even if it is found that the intelligence community did not do as good of a job as they could have, I can't help but sympathize with them. I can't help but think about all the complaints I read and hear about the intelligence community being too zealous about obtaining information, and too quick to ignore human rights. There's been the ongoing controversy since 9/11 about warrantless surveillance and debate over if the U.S. should have a system of non-criminal military detention for enemy terrorists who for many reasons are difficult to convict by trial (i.e. the whole argument about what to do with the Guantanamo Bay detainees) .

It would seem as if these folks are in a situation where they are looked at poorly every which way they turn. Whenever I'm in those sorts of situations I have to remind myself that I just have to do what I believe is right, to the best I can figure that out by the grace of God, and then live with whatever results come my way.

One thing I did find of interest in the criticism levied against the intelligence comminity regarding the failed bombing of a Northwest jet on Christmas, was the tie in between Abdulmutallab and the the Fort Hood bomber Nidal Malik Hasan. The tie in comes in the form of a radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki; both men had connections with this cleric. I found this interesting because of all the talk when the Fort Hood situation occurred about how wrong it was for anyone to try to connect him with any kind of terrorist group "just because" he was Muslim.

Anwar al-Awlaki is said to have advised Fort Hood suspect Maj Nidal Malik Hasan by e-mail. Although there is general agreement that Anwar al-Awlaki influenced the attempted jet bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, there is much disagreement as to when/where. Some point to when Abdulmutallab studied at University College London (UCL) from September 2005 to June 2008 and was president of its Islamic society in 2006-07; but UCL says his recruitment occurred in Yemen in the months before the attack.

Anwar al-Awlaki was born in Mexico in 1971 and moved to Yemen in 2004 to live in ancestral home village. He is a U.S. citizen. Anwar al-Awlaki served as an Iman in Colorado, California, and later in the Washington, D.C. area where he headed the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and was also the Muslim Chaplain at George Washington University. He has Endorsed violence as religious duty. While serving in San Deigo, 2 of the 9/11 hijackers had attended sermons by him. He was Jailed in Yemen in 2006 for alleged plot to kidnap US military attache.

As I read about all this in the news today I found myself thinking that there is constant criticism levied against the intelligence community for disregarding the freedom of individuals when obtaining information, for jumping too quickly to conclusions when apprehending suspects, and in how they follow up with suspects. There is truth to all of these criticisms; yet we are still faced with the reality of the need to protect the American people from terrorist acts.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on where you think the most positive contributions to protecting the American people from terrorism are coming from?


photogr said...

The intelligence community is the best contributor to preventing terrorism here and abroad. The technology these people have will amaze you to no end if you were allowed access to their technology.

It is interesting that this current administration wants to lower the security measures now in place. Like the border fences along the states bordering Mexico and reduce the profiling of airline passengers so as not to offend a Muslim.

I don't think it is as much as the intelligence community as it is the group in Washington dictating policy and restraining the intelligence community then blaming them for the errors.

David-FireAndGrace said...

I think it is time to investigate anyone that has ties to Anwar al-Awlaki.

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