In the wake of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s foiled Christmas Day bomb plot on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton tells National Review Online that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has “failed in its central mission” and “should be dismantled.”
“I agree with President Obama,” says Bolton. “There has been a ‘systemic failure’ in American intelligence. Now it’s time for him to take steps to address these problems. Firing the bureaucracy at the National Intelligence office is one way to start. I never thought having such an apparatus was a good idea. We need to do a better job at integrating intelligence, not add another layer on top of what’s already there. This administration can’t keep thinking that adding another bureaucratic fix to the mix will solve the broader problems that caused this failure.”
Bolton tells us he’s worried about President Obama’s continuing “to operate from a paradigm that sees terrorism as a law-enforcement issue,” though Bolton says the president “clearly made the right decision” in suspending the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Yemen.
“The president was faced with a revolt from the Left,” says Bolton. “Jane Harman, Dianne Feinstein, and Joe Lieberman were all pressuring him. Stopping the transfers was really the only choice he had. The bigger problem here is that he still doesn’t realize that closing Gitmo is a mistake.”
To address the growing al-Qaeda presence in Yemen, Bolton says the U.S. “should work with the government of Yemen to do everything we can to deny al-Qaeda a safe haven there.” Additionally, Bolton says Obama should “reach out to the rest of the Arabian peninsula” as he plans his response efforts. “Yemen has strained relationships within the region,” says Bolton. “They don’t want al-Qaeda in their backyard. Obama also needs to articulate how any efforts in Yemen are contextually tied to the global war on terrorism.”
“Yemen is an oil-poor country, unlike its neighbors,” says Bolton. “It has a very strained relationship with Saudi Arabia. It’s time for the administration to build a coalition in the region to address the al-Qaeda threats inside of Yemen.”