EDIT of 9 Jan 10: Note seven comments from retired senior officers.
Critique of the CT Summary for the White House
This is a negligent piece of work that fails to include all that is known merely from open sources of information, but more importantly its judgments are misdirected. This incident remains incompletely investigated until the person who video-taped events on the airplane comes forward and is identified.
Where we differ:
1. It was passengers who restrained the individual, not the flight crew, as is stated in the first paragraph.
1) Does not identify the primary error. The Embassy officer (or CIA officer) who interviewed the father did not elevate the matter. The same kind of mistake occurred when the Taliban walked in and offered us Bin Laden in hand-cuffs.
2) The absence of a machine-speed cross-walk among US and UK visa denials is noted, but the weakest link is overlooked. The Department of State either didn’t check their visa files or, as has been remarked, may have failed to get a match because of misspelling. The necessary software is missing. State continues to be the runt in the litter (we have more military musicians than we have diplomats) and until the President gets a grip on the Program 50 budget, State will remain a dead man walking.
3) Another point glossed over: the intelligence community, and CIA in particular, did not increase analytic resources against the threat. Reminds us of George Tenet “declaring war” on terrorism and then being ignored by mandarins who really run the place.
4) “The watchlisting system is not broken” (page 2 bottom bold). Of course it is broken, in any normal meaning of the word “system”. John Brennan is responsible for the watchlisting mess, and this self-serving statement is evidence in favor of his removal. If we are at war, we cannot have gerbils in critical positions (quoting Madeline Albright).
5) “A reorganization of the intelligence or broader counterterrorism coummunity is not required…” at the bottom of page 2. Reorganization, in the sense of moving around blocks on a chart, may not be required, but the entire system is broken and does need both principled redesign and new people the President can trust with the combination of balls and brains and budget authority to get it right. Thirteen years after Aspin-Brown we still have not implemented most of their suggestions; the U.S. intelligence community is still grotesquely out of balance; and the Whole of Government budget is still radically misdirected at the same time that our policies in the Middle East are counterproductive.