In his big speech the other day, President Obama said, “Much of our best counterterrorism cooperation results in the gathering and sharing of intelligence.” And much of the gathering and sharing results in . . . nothing.
The Woolwich butcher was deported from Kenya on suspicion of terrorism and captured on video calling for the beheading of British soldiers . . . but that didn’t prevent him beheading a British soldier.
Just as Tamerlan Tsarnaev was brought to the U.S. government’s attention by the Russians, but that didn’t prevent him blowing up the Boston Marathon.
And the Pantybomber was fingered by his own dad to the CIA, but that didn’t prevent him boarding the plane to Detroit.
And Major Hasan was tracked by not one but two joint terrorism task forces in regular email communication with Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen but they concluded that this lively correspondence was consistent with his “research interests,” so that didn’t prevent him standing on a table at Fort Hood yelling “Allahu Akbar!” and killing 14 Americans, which was also consistent with his “research interests.”
Surveillance, said President Obama in his speech, raises “difficult questions about the balance that we strike between our interests in security and our values of privacy.” Au contraire, privacy-wise it seems to be working out just great for Messrs Hasan, Tsarnaev & Co. And “surveillance” doesn’t seem quite the word when the enemy is hiding in plain sight flaunting his “research interests,” posting terrorist videos to his YouTube channel, getting deported as a suspected member of al-Shabaab, putting “Soldier of Allah” on his U.S. Army business card — and still we can’t see him.