Blair and Leiter: We Should’ve Changed the Watchlist Criteria
In their joint opening statement to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, and Michael Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, squared up to a point I’ve been making for nearly a month about Northwest Flight 253:
Within the Intelligence Community we had strategic intelligence that al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had the intention of taking action against the United States prior to the failed attack on December 25th, but, we did not direct more resources against AQAP, nor insist that the watchlisting criteria be adjusted prior to the event. In addition, the Intelligence Community analysts who were working hard on immediate threats to Americans in Yemen did not understand the fragments of intelligence on what turned out later to be Mr. Abdulmutallab, so they did not push him onto the terrorist watchlist.
How will the watchlisting standards change? And how will they change so as not to overwhelm intelligence analysts with data?