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Is terrorism a serious threat?

January 9, 2010

Given that the current flavor of terrorism is of the Middle Eastern jihadist variety, it is reasonable to assume that the resources employed by the government to be sufficient to the task of monitoring and analyzing the strategies employed by the terrorist network. But if the number of Middle Eastern analysts assigned to the National Counterterrorism Center indicates the level of seriousness given to the threat, the answer is no.

“There’s limited manpower and finite resources,” said a former NCTC analyst who, like several colleagues in the intelligence community, described the state of the Middle East Branch on condition of anonymity. Longstanding and government-wide shortfalls in language resources afflict the branch as well, the analyst said: “Very few people speak Arabic, and very few have ever been to the region.”

Can we reasonably expect those few dedicated analysts to do more to isolate problem situations in the making? As the old saying goes, it’s hard to see the swamp when you’re up to your ass in alligators.

“What you’ll end up doing is opening up the firehose to full blast,” said one. “They’re barely able to handle what they have right now.” Indeed, Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic reported Tuesday that before the attempted Christmas attack, Leiter and the NCTC’s leadership were preparing for 2010 budget cuts. The U.S. intelligence official who defended NCTC added, “Clearly, if people believe more resources have to be applied against something, it’ll be identified” for Congress to approve, although the official said that conclusion was premature.

All the resources necessary to put bombs on target and boots on the ground, but inadequate intelligence to properly identify the enemy, his location and his next moves. For all the reactionary steps taken, and the claims of the serious nature with which they approach the threat, our fearless leaders continually demonstrate they lack even a basic concept of how to ensure our safety and the survivability of our once free nation.

We know terrorism is a serious threat. The 9/11 Commission identified it as such. Several thousand dead Americans remind us that terrorism is a serious threat. Yet the government spends more money and devotes more personnel to inspecting 80–yr. old grannies at the airport than on the analysis of the nature of the threat.

So dear reader, I ask you the question: is terrorism a serious threat?

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