The only thing that scares me more than the extremists that want to destroy our nation is the fact that the intelligence agencies entrusted to prevent that from happening are so busy protecting their own turf and trying to outshine each other that they don’t do their job, and leave us open to attack.

A good example is the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who tried to blow up a Northwest airliner in Detroit on Christmas Day. Though he was known to be a possible threat, the administration acknowledges that the different security agencies’ lack of cooperation and full sharing of information between themselves kept the State Department from revoking his visa.

This was the second time in two months that reports show that internal pissing matches between security agencies failed to prevent extremists from taking violent action against the United States.  

A joint terrorism task force, overseen by the FBI, learned of Nidal Malik Hasan’s repeated contact with a radical Muslim cleric known to encourage attacks on American troops, but did not share that information with other agencies, which could have prevented Hasan from killing thirteen people and wounding thirty more at Fort Hood, Texas in November.

This nonsense is nothing new. This pissing match between agencies has been going on forever, and we all suffer because of it. In what one journalist called “the greatest failure of intelligence since the Trojan Horse,” there is plenty of evidence that the intelligence community knew something bad was coming before the 9/11 attacks, but again, they didn’t work together to prevent it from happening. Why not?

In the weeks leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, American intelligence agents had plenty of reason to believe an attack was coming, but it was never passed on and/or acted upon. Many reports also claim that British intelligence agencies knew of the impending attack, but did not inform their American counterparts.

It’s time to clean house and get rid of the bureaucrats leading these security agencies and replace them with people who care more about getting the job done and protecting the American people than they do about shining their own personal stars.

Here’s an idea – if you are with somebody who commits a crime, under the law, you are just as guilty because you allowed it to happen. Maybe we need to apply that same principle to the intelligence community. If somebody fails to do his duty and an act of terrorism is committed due to that failure, he or she should be just as guilty as the perpetrators, and punished accordingly.

It’s time for the pissing match to end, and for these agencies to start working together against our common enemy, instead of hoarding information, or refusing to give information from other agencies any credence because their guys didn’t find it first.

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22 Comments on The Perpetual Pissing Match

  1. Walt says:

    God bless you Nick. BUT this is nothing new. I worked narcotics 22 years in California at the state level. We interfaced very well with other state and county and city agencies. We did NOT interface with the FEDS, either the DEA( Don’t Expect Anything) or the FBI, ( Famous But Incompetent). They just never shared anything. I think that is because their promotion system is based on quality of case work. If they could “steal ” a case from the locals that made them look good it was a promotion for them.

  2. Cindy -- Wyoming says:

    Lots of luck with that one Nick! It ain’t going to happen. Isn’t it sad though. Working for the Federal Government for 15 1/2 years, a State Government, and a City Government, I can tell you this failure to communicate, lack of interagency trust, and “ass covering” is Standard Operating Procedure for all of them. Really good folks seldom last to make it to the top. We all know what floats to the top — usually brown nosers who have developed a true sense of how the wind is blowing politically. They will keep the hammer down on any “sub-ordinate” who could cause a problem by telling the truth. “There will be no ripples from this department nor will we take a chance we might be wrong.” “When things blow up, remember we didn’t know anything – its the other folks fault.” How do we cure this bureaucratic, political mindset? I honest to God do not know. The American people are at the mercy of these folks and will suffer from their actions and inaction. NOW we will have full body scans to get on an airplane. Excuse me — the failure was not putting him on the no fly list — Hello!!!

    PS You can bet if we have the guilty bureaucrats/politicians punished the same as the criminals, they will figure out a way to have a “subordinate” do the time.
    (I wasn’t a bureaucrat but a problem causer who told the truth, shared information and suffered for it. Doing excellent work kept me from ultimate reprisals. I further aggravated the situation by verbally telling them that I was no one’s subordinate nor did I have a superior. We were all there to work together and get the job done. I was and will always be cherished by them — so to speak!) HAPPY NEW YEAR FOLKS!

  3. Orv Schinke says:

    I got fired from a job when on active duty with the USAF because I refused to tell the boss what he wanted to hear. Rather, I told him what he “needed” to hear. He said it ain’t going to happen. It did! He got fired to because the higher ups didn’t like the truth. This kind of thing seems to go on no matter what the situation. But when it comes to national security, I agree with Nick — “they gotta go.” Clean house. But those “suck-ups” will keep getting elected until everyone begins to tell it like it is and not keep covering up.

  4. Darrell says:

    Heck, Nick, that’s just the way it is inside the Beltway. There are so many pissing contests going on that Washington D.C. is knee deep in yellow snow. We need go to the polls and vote the varmits out but, the problem is that, just like your GPS entry pointed out, people don’t like to think for themselves. The American public is way too apathetic; but, then again, who really cares?

  5. Tom in Ohio says:

    For a very short period of time after 9/11 we got a view of what it must have been like when America began its fight for freedom.
    People came together, shared, flags flew everywhere. I suspect that must have been the same feelings that were felt on that night all those years ago when the light was shown in the old north church signaling that the British were coming. No pisssing contest that night…just americans working together for a common goal for all. I have this terrible feeling that it won’t be our foes that destroy our nation…we will self destruct from within. We have become a “me first/do you know who I am” land. Our fore fathers said it best…” hang together or we will all hang alone”. Nick you nailed it agin. I’d settle for some good old common sense….our elected leaders can keep the “change”.

  6. PJOB says:

    Hi Nick
    First of all I want to tell you how much I enjoy both your blogs. Second, maybe I’m naive but I think there are a lot of good honest hard working people in the various agencies entrusted with our protection. I believe there have been many potential threats that have been averted by these people and while too many are involved in CYA and those pissing contests, it’s not fair to paint them all with same brush. (No I’m not now nor ever have been involved with any law enforcement agency.) I think our biggest problem are those rights and freedoms we hold so dear. The nastys know how to hide behind those rights and freedoms. Sorry, I have no answer to that. Another big problem is when a small minority in a major religion teach their children to hate all those who do not share their beliefs. And the majority in that same religion do nothing about it. So terrorists are born.

  7. “If somebody fails to do his duty and an act of terrorism is committed due to that failure, he or she should be just as guilty as the perpetrators, and punished accordingly.”

    The problem with this is that our intelligence agencies are already the whipping boy of the politicians. Their failures are part of a system that is failing.

    It seems the CIA and various agencies are;

    * Assigned to do things secretly, but told to live in a glass house.

    * Told to participate in fighting a war, but with civilian law enforcement rules.

    * Given tasks that require them to work outside the law, and then face possible prosecution for doing the job — not for “failing” but for succeeding!

    * Manipulated by politicians, and then blamed when the politicians decisions turn out to be wrong.

    Why would any bright young man or woman graduating from a university today even consider joining the CIA?

  8. BobD says:

    The idea that the “pissing contest” is exclusive to Washington and the government is exactly what’s wrong with this country. This whole country has that attitude. That attitude is where things like PC came from and we all went along and let it happen. We get exactly what we vote for and current “Washington” is a perfect example. There is entirely too many people in this country who think the government owes them something from a mortgage bailout to welfare to a new car. Someone has to pay – I guess that’s what the RICH are for. I just finished reading Sarah Palin’s book ‘Going Rouge’ and you’d all do well to read it. This country missed a great chance to start cleaning up government when we elected the current administration. HOW IS THAT CHANGE WORKING OUT FOR YOU ???

  9. Frank Serrao says:

    Obama has to learn where the buck stops. He can’t keep making excuses for Janet Napolitano and others who claim everything was done right. He’s President. He needs to start taking some responsibiity for the mess. And how about unemployment, the outrageous deficits, etc. etc. What America needs is leadership and we’re not getting it.

  10. Gene Teggatz says:

    About a year before Pearl Harbor, British Intelligence became aware that the Japanese were attempting to locate detailed maps of Pearl Harbor. The information was shared with their U.S.A counter parts. (We slept on it.)

    Our intelligence communities operate as compartmentalized entities and each one does not want to share what he learns because someone else may use it to become the hero of the day. Of course Congress is part of the problem with rules on top of more rules. You get promoted for following the rules, not for doing the right thing for the country.

    The solution is to employ more bodies which also reduces the un-employment line. With more bodies,they need more managers etc.

    Gene

  11. Interesting discussion. Wish I knew the answer, but I do believe it has to lie with each one of us, each of us remembering that “I” is only a small part of “AmerIca.” We have to remember that the good of the entire nation is what will assure the good the individual. The “me first” attitude is visible everywhere, even along our highways where idiots will zoom ahead of oncoming traffic, in parking lots (just try to back out of you parking space!), in retail stores, as everyone rushes to get ahead of someone else at the checkout. Folks, it takes only a couple of seconds to be polite, to take your turn. Me first!

  12. Kathe K says:

    An excellent idea for reducing the threat to the US from Islamic extremists is to cancel all visas for people from those countries where they live.

    All students and workers on visas of any kind would be immediately deported and watch those countries clean up their act….the wealthy and law abiding parents of students who will no longer enjoy a fabulous education will rise up and demand changes in their governments. Businesspeople who can no longer travel here to conduct lawful business will put pressure on their countries.

    This is not my idea but one I heard from a smart friend. We need to do something different and radical and stop our whining and finger pointing.

  13. Peg says:

    We definitely need more cooperation between the “powers” that are entrusted with our safeety and security, and I for one don’t see anything wrong with “profiling” those who are out to kill us. Also, I agree with BobD — Everyone would do well to read Sarah Palin’s book! Frankly, I could do without the “change” —

  14. Arley Running says:

    Nick, There seems to be a correlation between Nicks Blog today on the fast food place and Bad Nicks blog on National Security. There is a national plan to follow already in place. Strictly the management–the person(s) in charge should to fired and replaced.

  15. Dennis Murphy says:

    Cindy–Wyoming has it just correct! In my opinion the source of that CYA attitude is the current trend of “gottcha” politics. This is both in the political arena and the mass media. Everyone is waiting for the chance to jump on anyones mistake, or perceived mistake. In many, many cases delving deeper into a persons statement than the sound bite used to crucify them shows that the statement was actually cogent and reasonable. I recently read an article in the New Yorker about a Canadian who has recently entered the political arena after a successful career in academia. He said that politics was the most difficult thing he had ever done because one has to choose every word spoken or written with such great care.

    Assigning blame for events, such as “This is Obama’s fault because he is soft on terror” in not only mindless and stupid, but actually counterproductive in our efforts to solve whatever the current problem is.

    We all know that most of our current troubles (economy, war, immigration) can be laid right at the doorstep of GW and his sycophants, but what is the point? We need to have a rational, polite, and far reaching conversation on many issues. Polarizing blame comments and outright lies and falsehoods do not do anything to advance the conversion and find a solution.

  16. Dennis Murphy says:

    Oh yeah, HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

  17. Bill Auld says:

    I think someone just called themselves mindless and stupid and being counterproductive by assigning all the blame on a president and his sycophants. This is precisely what is wrong by making polarizing comments after you just chastised others for making comments about President Obama.

  18. Bob W says:

    Nick,

    David Brooks in todays NYT (see link below) wrote on this same topic but with quite a different take. He said; “In a mature nation, President Obama could go on TV and say, “Listen, we’re doing the best we can, but some terrorists are bound to get through.” We expect perfection from our government when it is make up of human being. Of all the people you know what proportion have gone throught life without making at least of few mistakes that they wouldn’t give almost anything to have a chance a “do over”.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01.....ef=opinion

  19. Pam says:

    Amen, Dennis! The Obama-haters are getting ridiculous. They expect this one man to clean up 8 years of incompetence and to do it overnight. Many of the people who claim to yearn for the post 9/11 attitude of working together are the same people who will never support this President and actually wish he would fail.

    And as for reading Palin’s book? What a joke. Anyone who thinks that dolt has the answers should have their right to vote revoked.

    Happy New Year!!

  20. James Lucas says:

    I didn’t vote for Obama, and I was disappointed to see him get elected. But I have to say that I am getting real sick of the Obama-bashers who want to blame him personally for everything from the economy to the war on terror to tooth decay.

    He inherited a mess from the last administration (which I voted for) and is doing the best he can. Whether you like him or not, he is the President, and he deserves the respect of his office. I never hear the people who hate Obama so much offering anything constructive. I guess they’re too busy bitching and whining like spoiled children because they didn’t get their way. Grow up, people! We didn’t get to where we are since last January. It took us years to get here, and it will take years to correct our problems, no matter who sits in the Oval Office.

  21. Bill Auld says:

    I can only shake my head in amazement at comments people make or write. Quote (And as for reading Palin’s book? What a Joke. Anyone who thinks that Dolt has the answers should have their right to vote revoked.) end of quote. Just because a person reads or writes about a subject that another person disagrees with should have their rights taken from them reeks with shades of totalitarianism. Someone that would make a simple minded statement like the quote above is a very boorish person and would be a great poster child for what is wrong with our political system.

  22. George P says:

    Nick,you get it and so do many others,but we are only dim candles on a giant cake and the FAT CATS are feeding right for us.Now who had the bright idea of bringing all the terrorist from Cuba into the country which they want too destroy.Keep your guns close and loaded.

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