Thomas Kean and John Farmer: "How 12/25 Was Like 9/11"

January 6, 2010
Op-Ed Contributors
How 12/25 Was Like 9/11

IN the days since the attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing, many officials, including the White House’s counterterrorism director, John Brennan, have insisted that the Detroit incident was “not like 9/11.” In many respects, we agree. But the government’s handling of the intelligence leading up to the attack was eerily reminiscent of one of the most shocking — and relatively underreported — revelations to come out of the 9/11 commission’s hearings.

The commission, having been informed that before 9/11 the State Department maintained a list of known or suspected terrorists whose travel should be restricted, asked Federal Aviation Administration officials how many of that list’s 61,000 names were on the F.A.A.’s “no fly” registry. The answer supplied by senior aviation administration officials was astonishing in two respects. First, the commission was told, the no-fly list had not 61,000 names but only 12, and included none of the 9/11 hijackers, even though the F.B.I. was searching actively for two of them before the attack.

Then came the bombshell: the F.A.A. security officials were unaware — until the commission asked its question at a hearing — that the State Department maintained a terrorist watch list at all.

In the hearing, Tim Roemer, a commission member, was stunned, telling the F.A.A. officials: “There’s a difference of 60,988 names between what’s been accumulated at the State Department as dangerous people, shouldn’t be flying, and what you have with your 12 people. Now, I can’t understand why there are not more efforts in liaison activities to reach out to State Department and start to bring some of those names over and prevent those people from flying.”

Today, the no-fly list has grown to 4,000 people, but the name of the man accused of the Christmas bombing attempt, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was not on it. Critical information concerning Mr. Abdulmutallab’s growing estrangement from his family and his Islamic radicalization in Yemen, according to an understandably exasperated President Obama, “was passed to a component of our intelligence community but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect’s name on a no-fly list.”

Others in the intelligence community, according to Mr. Brennan, were aware that Al Qaeda in Yemen was training a Nigerian, perhaps named Umar Farouk, to carry out an attack. “But there was nothing,” according to Mr. Brennan, “that brought it all together.” When Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father reported his dangerous behavior to the United States Embassy in Nigeria, moreover, no one checked whether the younger Abdulmutallab held a multiple-entry visa (he did), or whether he had been denied a visa anywhere else (he had).

As President Obama said yesterday, after meeting with his national security team at the White House, “This was not a failure to collect intelligence; it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence we already had.” What, more than eight years after 9/11, and more than four years after the issuance of the 9/11 commission’s findings, are we to make of this systemic failure? And what should be done about it?

First, we should dismiss the partisan bickering over the issue. Both parties have presided over security failures and successes; systemic failures cannot be ascribed to the stewardship of a political party. Any effort to take partisan advantage of this unfortunate event, moreover, can only mask the more serious underlying issues, which President Obama raised squarely in yesterday’s remarks: are lapses in information gathering and sharing like those that occurred here endemic, or fixable?

The task of isolating the data points that identify one dangerous individual among thousands is hard; there will be, under the best of conditions, an element of judgment involved, an ineradicable quantum of human frailty. Tragic mistakes will always be possible. And there will be little or no defense against a lunatic, unconnected with any group, who ignites kindling in his underpants.

The question that Congress should investigate, and the administration should ask itself, is whether the system we have in place has reduced the likelihood of human error to an acceptable, if not irreducible, margin.

Our national security system should aspire to the zero-tolerance effectiveness with which our military has prevented an accidental launching of nuclear weapons. The attempted Christmas bombing, thwarted by brave passengers and not by our intelligence community, illustrates how far we still have to go.

There are procedural fixes worth undertaking, of course, like mandating enhanced screening, or installing body scanning technology, or coordinating the software used by intelligence agencies, or instructing State Department personnel to query the visa status of any person reported to be suspicious. Reforming the no-fly list procedures, as President Obama has proposed, is certainly overdue. But in our view the problem runs deeper, and requires a searching look at the structure of government itself.

Despite the best efforts of the 9/11 commission and other intelligence reformers, budgetary authority over intelligence remains unaligned with substantive responsibility. Turf battles persist among intelligence agencies. Power is sought while responsibility is deflected. The drift toward inertia continues.

Government agencies are most likely to succeed when structure matches mission. With its many jurisdictional boundaries and its persistent bureaucratic fault lines, our current system, although greatly improved since 9/11, affords too many opportunities to let information slip, too many occasions for human frailty to assert itself.

The attempted Christmas bombing carries an eerie echo of the failures that led to 9/11 because those fundamental flaws persist. The challenge for President Obama and Congress is to resist superficial sound-bite solutions and undertake the harder task of reinventing our national security system. As the president stated, “The margin for error is slim, and the consequences of failure can be catastrophic.”

Thomas H. Kean and John Farmer Jr. were, respectively, the co-chairman and senior counsel of the 9/11 commission.

Go straight to jail...

Do not pass go.

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? The facts speak for themselves.

another take on this. . .

. . .by webster tarpley, compares the "underwear bomber" incident to the bay of pigs challenge that jfk faced early on in his administration. see

an interesting piece, but what tarpley fails to address in his comparison to how jfk handled the bay of pigs issue, or in his opinion that obama should follow jfk's example, is that jfk was assassinated (in part) for standing up and firing people. (indeed, one of the officials jfk fired over the bay of pigs fiasco, cia director allen dulles, ended up on the warren commission.) thus, the question becomes, if obama actually wanted to do something about getting to the bottom of this 12/25 incident (or anything else that really matters, e.g., 9/11), how would he go about doing that without getting himself killed?

He would hire a commission

He would hire a commission from completely outside of government or the MIC... academics and professionals, lawyers, judges, housewives, union leaders, workers, students etc.. to look into the matter and make recommendations.

Obama's Definitely No Kennedy

Although I did not know John F. Kennedy, I do know Barack Obama does not even have half the balls of the crotch bomber, let alone the gonads of a JFK. Kennedy stood up to and opposed sinister shadow government individuals and institutions from Day 1, actions that eventually did cost him his life. Kennedy was basically at exact opposites with US intelligence and military institutions on Bay of Pigs (4/61), Operation Northwood (3/62), Cuban Missile crisis (10/62), Cuba, Vietnam, and nuclear proliferation with the Soviets (along with Israel’s and China’s nuclear development).

On the other hand, Obama stands for little and is the consummate politician playing the middle of the road to help assure his, and his administration’s, job security. In addition to not standing up to these shadow government players in the case of Flight 253, Obama has given them just about everything else they have wanted including a military surge in Afghanistan, a prolonged withdrawal in Iraq, an inevitable escalation with Yemen, and a decent possibility of an attack on Iran in the future. Instead of standing up to the military and intelligence institutions like Kennedy did, Obama is playing their game and going against the will of a majority of the American people who want the United States out of these unnecessary and expensive Middle Eastern quagmires today, not 5 years from now.

Obama is now a confirmed wuss, at least his arse does not have to worry about going the same way JFK did. That is, unless a Bush/Cheney loving nut job right wing terrorist takes him out.

You cannot compare the two.

You cannot compare the two men. JFK was the last real president this country ever had. He stood up to the NWO and it cost him his life. On the other hand Obama is a NWO advocate. That is why they put him in. He is the perfect puppet. In my opinion he is more dangerous than Bush. At least with Bush you knew he was a puppet with no brains. Obama is as slick as a used car salesman. Heaven help us all. I think we need divine intervention. Say your prayers truthers.

How 12/25 was like (and different) 9/11

For beginners, they were both false flag operations that government officials like Kean & Farmer helped to cover up. Of course Kean and Farmer were basically clueless as Philip Zelikow ran the commission’s investigation and wrote the fictional report as these two lap dogs sat idly by. Seriously though, let’s have some fun with this one and start a list of similarities and differences.


* Both were false flag operations
* Both used the same pathetic excuse that “nobody connected the dots”
* US intelligence was helpless because did not have exact target & date
* Both involved planes and Muslim patsies
* NSA and CIA are the two primary agencies for intelligence failures
* CIA did not share information it obtained with other intelligence agencies
* FBI is already assisting in cover-up (Kurt Haskell's cover-up)
* UK warned us about threat and / or terrorist(s) beforehand
* There is evidence of Israeli complicity and / or anomalies
* Eyewitness are being ignored by government and MSM
* Evidence not supporting "lone wolf" theory being disregarded
* Biggest benefactors US military and energy companies
* Not one single individual or institution has been held accountable
* No real investigation, terrible transparency

Differences (how 12/25 differs from 9/11):

* Nobody’s been tortured or waterboarded 183 times for information
* Information from tortured individuals not basis for report conclusions
* Individual running investigation, not good friend of the National Security Advisor
* There’s no worthless figurehead (i.e., Kean) in the 12/25 investigation
* We have a president that at least pretends to give a damn about an investigation

The moral of the story, if it works the first time, try it again. The perps may even want to take a video to preserve the memories. Oops, I forgot, add one more similarity to the above list.


Just to clarify this issue on 9/11, the CIA and FBI HQ had connected the dots. The CIA on July 5, 2001 thought that the people at the Kuala Lumpur al Qaeda planning meeting in January 2000 were connected to the massive warnings of an al Qaeda attack and on July 23, 2001 thought that Khalid al-Mihdhar would take part in the next big al Qaeda operation.

On August 22, 2001 when the CIA discovered that both Mihdhar and Hazmi were inside of the US, the CIA and FBI HQ knew they were inside of the US only in order to take part in the massive al Qaeda attack they had been warned about since April 2001, and knew this attack would likely kill thousands of Americans.

So it is clear that the CIA and FBI HQ had connected the dots.