Magazine article National Defense

No Need to Rethink 'No-Fly' List Criteria, Say Intelligence Chiefs

Magazine article National Defense

No Need to Rethink 'No-Fly' List Criteria, Say Intelligence Chiefs

Article excerpt

Up in the Air

The former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department's top intelligence chief both called for common sense answers to questions of who is and isn't added to terrorist watch lists.

Their comments came in response to criticism leveled at tile spy community in the aftermath of the Christmas Day bombing plot. The name of the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was reportedly in watch-list databases, but not the "no fly" list which would have prevented him from boarding the Detroit-bound flight.

Former ClA Director Gen. Michael Hayden said he had received a "fairly decent account" of what happened from former colleagues in the intelligence community. Everything the CIA had in its files was shared with the National Counterterrorism Center, he said at die National Defense Industrial Association biometrics conference.

"One of the side effects of increased sharing is that we have created a tsunami of information rushing at our analysts," said Hayden, who is now a consultant with the Chertoff Group. The center adds 200 names to its watch lists every day, he added.

James Clapper, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said analysts are not "clairvoyant mind readers . . . We're simply not going to bat .1000 all the time."

"It's not so much connecting dots, it's the number of dots and their obscurity and their opaqueness," Clapper said, but added mat die "dot" cliche should be banned from the English language. "It's much more abstract and less specific than it appears after the fact," he said, answering those who have used 20/20 hindsight to make conclusions about the case. …

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