Thursday, January 07, 2010

More, More, Better, More

Today, President Obama outlined steps we are taking to improve security in the wake of the near-disaster on Christmas Day. There are four:
First, I'm directing that our intelligence community immediately begin assigning specific responsibility for investigating all leads on high-priority threats so that these leads are pursued and acted upon aggressively -- not just most of the time, but all of the time. We must follow the leads that we get. And we must pursue them until plots are disrupted. And that mean assigning clear lines of responsibility.
OK, so step one is pursue more leads and pursue them longer.
Second, I'm directing that intelligence reports, especially those involving potential threats to the United States, be distributed more rapidly and more widely. We can't sit on information that could protect the American people.
Step two is have more people read the reports.
Third, I'm directing that we strengthen the analytical process, how our analysis -- how our analysts process and integrate the intelligence that they receive. My Director of National Intelligence, Denny Blair, will take the lead in improving our day-to-day efforts. My Intelligence Advisory Board will examine the longer-term challenge of sifting through vast universes of intelligence and data in our Information Age.
Step three is analyze better.
And finally, I'm ordering an immediate effort to strengthen the criteria used to add individuals to our terrorist watchlists, especially the "no fly" list. We must do better in keeping dangerous people off airplanes, while still facilitating air travel.
Step four is put more people on watch lists.

Look, all these things sound great to me. But all of them (except the "do a better job" third fix) require more people spending more time. So are we going to hire more people or just spread our existing people thinner? Putting more people on the sex offender registry, for example, sounds good to the "tough on crime" types, but means fewer resources protecting our children from the really dangerous ones — unless you spend more government money and hire proportionately more police. Unless our intelligence folks are sitting around all day with nothing to do, giving them more leads to pursue means less time on the higher priority leads, no? Sounds like a net loss to me unless you're willing to step up the investment . . .

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