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Updates and Underwear (Bombs)

May 20, 2012

My computer is on the fritz—by which I mean, it’s dying. It’s six-plus years old now, so it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, but I wanted to offer some sort of explanation for this shorter-than-usual  post. Not to worry, though. I’ll be able to get my hands on a new laptop in no time now that I’ve transitioned from my internship at the American Enterprise Institute to a job (that’s right!) as a technical writer for a small federal contracting firm that specializes in defense-related issues. So that’s the update portion of the post. Onto the underwear.

Here are some quick thoughts* on the latest iteration of underwear bombing attempts emanating from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), based in Yemen:

  • Who leaked the details of this intelligence coup? As Greg Pollowitz at National Review Online points out, “This is the kind of leak that gets people killed.” Not only that, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta put it, “When these leaks take place, I can’t tell you how much they damage our ability to be able to pursue our intelligence efforts.” One can be sure that AQAP’s vetting process is going to be a bit more thorough after this highly publicized embarrassment, to the detriment of Western citizens’ safety.
  • The successful infiltration of AQAP, reportedly by Saudi intelligence, highlights the importance of working with partners whose clandestine agents share the same language and culture as their intended targets.
  • Could the new, metal-less, “custom-fit” underwear bomb have gotten by the TSA? Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says, no: “In today’s date with all the various layers we have, in all likelihood, it would not have succeeded.” Others are less sanguine. We’ll likely never know, but one thing is clear: AQAP and other like-minded groups will continue to adapt, forcing the United States to continue spending billions of dollars on the newest and most advanced security measures.
  • Finally, I think we Americans owe a debt of gratitude to the covert operative who infiltrated AQAP and allowed us to ask the question, “Would our security have detected the bomb?” Were it not for this person, we might have found out the hard way and much too late.

*Here’s some insight into my blogging methodology: Whenever I think of a good subject for a blog post, I usually do a lot of background research to get up to speed on the latest developments surrounding the issue and find out what those in the know have had to say about it. When my computer takes about five minutes to load a single webpage, however, I have to resort to “quick thoughts.”

This post was originally published at Aslan Media.

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