Thanks to Steven Orr and Sally Erikson for this article.
Close your eyes for a moment and cast your mind back to the dominant news stories of early 2010. The economy in tatters? Certainly. Global stalemate on climate negotiations and unbreakable gridlock in Congress? Of course. And don’t forget the terror — on Christmas Eve, 2009, a lone Nigerian man boards an airplane in Lagos and travels some 18 hours toward Detroit in what can only have been a dizzying combination of anxiety, fear and elation, and a grandiose sense of his own destiny. It all ends with a little ineffectual fumbling in the underpants, cut short by the heroism of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s fellow passengers.
The official response to the underwear bomber reveals the usual inability of large bureaucracies to connect the dots or take meaningful action on real threats. Instead of understanding and reassessment, we get yet another late, inappropriate and costly escalation in airport security and political infighting about the treatment of Abdulmutallab — all of it embedded in an unacknowledged but resolute refusal to see the bigger picture.
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