The White House Review of the Christmas Attack: A Quick Response to Jim

I have a different response than does my co-blogger Jim Lindgren to the recently-released White House summary of tentative findings as to how the counterterrorism community failed to detect and stop the Christmas attack. Jim is right that the government report does not give a full account, and it doesn’t give full credit to the passengers on the flight. But that’s because it’s only a report about the failings of the counterterrorism community. As I understand it, the purpose of the document is to figure out and report, just two weeks after the attack, how the counterterrorism agencies failed so they can take corrective action quickly.

From that perspective, it doesn’t matter if the attacker showed his passport in Amsterdam or who gets credit for stopping the attacker — or, for that matter, whether the attacker was stopped at all. What matters is that the counterterrorism agencies figure out how they missed this so they won’t next time. Further, I think it’s notable that the government is disclosing the report. It’s hard to imagine the Bush Administration issuing a similar report about its failings, especially just two weeks after an attack.