The tourism industry certainly shares blame for putting travel profits ahead of national security over the years. But in this case, it was only thanks to airline industry compliance with a post-9/11 procedure requiring plane officials to send passenger manifests to the Department of Homeland Security that the feds caught up with Shahzad (whom they had lost track of in Connecticut) before he jetted off to Dubai.
President Obama has had plenty of time to address the enforcement lapses, database loopholes and technological delays of his predecessor. After the Christmas Day bombing debacle, he pledged to be proactive: "We will not rest." But to this day, TSA still doesn't check all domestic and international airline passenger manifests against the no-fly/go-fly list.
The data are only as good as the people entrusted to collect, process and use the information to protect national security. And without the ability to share and access the information across numerous agencies, the data are useless. Nearly nine years after Sept. 11, there is still no functional interoperability among an alphabet soup of national security and criminal databases -- including NAILS, TECS, CLASS, VISAS VIPER, TUSCAN, TIPPIX, IBIS, CIS, APIS, SAVE, IDENT, DACS, AFIS, ENFORCE and the NCIC. The Senate raised questions about understaffed efforts to modernize some of these databases back in March. What are we waiting for? The next jihadi bombing attempt?
The warped priorities of the Obama White House imperil us all. A command-and-control government that squanders its time and our money taking over businesses it has no business running -- health insurance, auto manufacturing, banking, student loans -- is a government neglecting its most fundamental mandate: providing for the common defense.
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