Questions About Security
(Posted by guest blogger Valerie Strauss)
I was reading a story by Craig Whitlock and Dafna Linzer in The Post about how the alleged plotters in Britain were caught:
"It all began with a tip: In the aftermath of the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings on London's transit system, British authorities received a call from a worried member of the Muslim community, reporting general suspicions about an acquaintance."
I gave a silent salute to the good ole' MI5, the British intelligence agency that had taken the tip (which might have been tossed or fumbled by other intelligence agencies) and run with it. Sounds like they had the suspects cold!
And I began wondering if the United States should have a domestic security intelligence service like the MI5, given that the FBI isn't really set up to do the same job. That was the recommendation of the congressionally created Gilmore Commission (officially known as the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction).
But I had barely finished when I got a message from my colleague Michael Powell, The Post's New York bureau chief, and I began to reconsider.
Those guys arrested in Britain, he noted, could easily be guilty of trying to plot the next 9-11. Probably are. But, he asked: Remember the 2003 raid on a London apartment in which police claimed to have stopped a plot to spread the deadly toxin ricin?
No, I didn't. What happened?
Turns out of the eight men charged, four were acquitted and the other four weren't tried. No traces of ricin were ever found in the apartment, though there was evidence said to be found of attempts to make it.
And, he wrote, remember the cyanide vest? o, I didn't.
Some 250 London policeman swarmed across east London recently and raided a house because intelligence had told of the location of a cyanide vest. Oops, bad intelligence. No vest.
Surely, I thought, trying to track down terrorists and their wannabes is an excruciatingly difficult job that sometimes leads to dead ends. It can only be expected.
But my unquestioning attitude toward last week's arrests led to this unsettling thought: They couldn't be wrong, could they?
The question: Do we you any more confidence in our security agencies five years after 9-11?
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