One of the British critiques of American intelligence--specifically the FBI--is that because it focuses on crime--gathering evidence to be used in court--it misses things like, for example, guys who are learning to fly planes, but not land them.
So that's one blind spot. The other is the knee jerk political correctness that hamstrung everyone who should have seen Major Hasan for what he was and is--an Islamic jihadist.
On Monday for the WSJ, Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA officer, wrote the best analysis of American anti-terror efforts--specifically w/re: to Islamist terror--that I have ever read.
For the FBI, religion remains a much too sensitive subject, much more so than the threatening ideologies of yesteryear. Imagine if Maj. Hasan had been an officer during the Cold War, regularly expressing his sympathy for the Soviet Union and American criminality against the working man. Imagine him writing to a KGB front organization espousing socialist solidarity. The major would have been surrounded by counterintelligence officers.Political correctness is not a principle--like liberty & freedom--for which guilty liberals should be willing sacrifice the lives of others.
A law-enforcement agency par excellence, the FBI reflects American legal ethics. Because the FBI is always thinking about criminal prosecutions and admissible evidence, its intelligence-collecting inevitably gets defined by its judicial procedures. Good counterintelligence curiosity—that must come into play before any crime is committed—is at odds with a G-man's raison d'être. And much more so than local police departments—which are grounded to the unpleasantness of daily life—it is highly susceptible to politically correct behavior.
Powerfully intertwined in all of this is liberal America's reluctance to discuss Islam, Islamic militancy, jihadism, or anything that might be construed as invidious to Muslims. The Obama administration obviously doesn't want to get tagged with an Islamist terrorist strike in the U.S.—the first since 9/11. The Muslim-sensitive 9/11 Commission Report, which unambiguously named the enemy as "Islamist terrorism," now seems distinctly passé.
Thoughtful men should certainly not want to see a U.S. president propel a "clash of civilizations" with devout Muslims. However, clash-avoidance shouldn't lead us into a philosophical cul-de-sac. The stakes are so enormous—jihadists would if they could let loose a weapon of mass destruction in a Western city—that we should not prevaricate out of politeness, or deceive ourselves into believing that a debate between Muslims and non-Muslims can only be counterproductive.
If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.