A question of intelligence 106

How unintelligent do you have to be to get a job with the CIA?

Here are two quotations from the Telegraph.

The first is by Con Coughlin:

As if Abdulmutallab’s bombing attempt was not a crushing blow for the CIA’s morale, the organisation is also trying to come to terms with a suicide bomb attack that killed seven CIA officers last month at their base at Khost, close to Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan. US officials say that those killed included five of their leading experts on al-Qaeda, who agreed to attend the meeting because they believed they would receive key information as to the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

Instead, it now appears they were set up by the Haqqani clan, the pro-Taliban tribe that is widely held to be protecting bin Laden and the rest of the al-Qaeda leadership in north-west Pakistan. The CIA officers were so convinced of the bona fides of their source, a Jordanian doctor, that they did not even bother with basic security procedures – such as searching his belongings – before allowing him on to the base, with the inevitable catastrophic consequences.

If this is how the CIA takes care of its own security, we should not be surprised by its failure to address that of the wider public.

The second is by Toby Harnden:

Check out this passage from the unclassified six-page summary of the President Barack Obama’s review of the intelligence failures that led to the attempted attack by the Knicker Bomber on Flight 253 on Christmas Day:

‘Mr. Abdulmutallab possessed a U.S. visa, but this fact was not correlated with the concerns of Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father about Mr. Abdulmutallab’s potential radicalization. A misspelling of Mr. Abdulmutallab’s name initially resulted in the State Department believing he did not have a valid U.S. visa.’

So this means that the US government’s computers apparently don’t have an equivalent of Google’s “Did You Mean?” tool that picks up misspellings and finds results for similar words.

If it had been realised immediately that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has a valid US visa then presumably the alarm bells would have begun to ring weeks before he actually flew – but they believed he had no visa because the State Department database or whatever database it was could only recognise a particular version of an Arabic name.

That’s reassuring, isn’t it?

An Arabic name? If so, transliteration can make for numerous variations. But Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a Nigerian, and Nigeria is an ex-British colony still using English as its official language. In his passport and on visa application forms his name would be spelt just like that. It must have been carelessly copied. Still, Harnden is right that the State Department should have a more efficient database. (It should have a great deal that it hasn’t got – a far better Secretary of State to start with, and diplomats who are on the side of America rather than its enemies.) In any case, the  young man with a bomb of a phallus has a Muslim name, and should have been ‘profiled’ for special investigation for that reason alone.

Posted under Commentary, government, Islam, Muslims, Terrorism, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, January 8, 2010

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