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Terrorism: It's the Surprise That Gets You

It is easy to get behind the sentiment voiced by Glenn Carle in his Sunday Op-Ed in the Washington Post. Let’s face it, a lot of good people toiled in AT/CT for a long time before the money-chasers bum-rushed the business. Not that some of that effort hasn’t produced good results, but our success at defeating a network with more hierarchy isn’t exactly stuff for the record books.

The problem I have with this sort of thinking is that it relies largely on cold, hard data. That sounds counter intuitive until you consider that in the intelligence business we’re paid to apply the little gray cells (lest we be accused to doing work primates won’t do) not simply send numbers through a methodological engine. For those of you looking for a pattern, it was a colleague of Glenn’s that said more or less the same thing just two months before September 11th. From a strictly data-based perspective both outlooks may stand on solid ground, but on that fateful day we were defeated by a bunch of angry cave-dwelling fist-shakers and their globally dispersed supporters despite being the greatest military power in the world. Does anyone think today we have the world’s best air, border or facility security and that there exists no gaps to exploit to catastrophic ends?

I don’t doubt Glenn’s veracity or integrity; I just cringe at the thought that this might be the prevailing wisdom in the IC and that we have stopped taking into consideration the patience, talent and desire of our enemies. Have all our responses been ideal? No. Should we slack off on what is working? Not a chance.