I think that the primary take-home lesson after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's failed attempt to detonate explosives on Flight 253 is that we need to improve our intelligence and investigative capabilities. The CIA apparently had advance information about Abdulmutallab that they chose to ignore. I am saddened to see funds that could be used to improve our intelligence capabilities being squandered on airport security measures. I have no reason to believe that better airport scanners, while they might have helped in this particular case, will be sufficient to catch the next terrorist.
I'm not suggesting that airport security is unnecessary or should be dramatically scaled back. I am, however, suggesting that much of what we have been doing is simply for show. By spending money on window dressing to make travelers think that they are more secure, we have less to spend on intelligence and investigative methods that might prevent individuals like Abdulmutallab from being in a position to endanger us.
This seems to be yet another example where the injection of reason would be helpful in policy decisions. Our emotionally-driven responses have a particularly poor track record when it comes to terrorism.
For other important lessons to take away from Abdulmutallab's attempted bombing, see this article from AlterNet.
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