Apparentyly, the same issues that plagued competing US intelligence agencies immediately after the 9/11 bombings have not yet been resolved. According to this Time Magazine article, President Obama's summarized the failure to prevent terrorism suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding a Detroit-bound plane was that "The U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack, but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots."
Yet again, we see that despite being flooded with data, there was a failure to turn that data into actionable knowledge. Apparently, according to the article, inteligence agencies knew that the suspected bomber Abdulmutallab had traveled to Yemen, a spot of brewing anti-US terrorism plots, that his father had contacted the US embassy in Nigeria to notify them of his son's activities, that no one asked whether Abdulmutallab had a US visa, or whether he should have been added to the no-fly list. Also, the fact that he purchased a one-way ticket and no checked luggage might have raised some concern as well.
Any of these events should have triggered some action, but the fact that they didn't potentially raises a different question: how often do we miss events that should trigger a security response? I am sure a lot more frequently than we'd like to believe, and that might raise your level of anxiety.
And that raises another different question: what is the probability/risk that a missed event is a critical one like the Dec 25th situation? Of course, a low probability might alleviate some of the anxiety.
However, from a data perspective, the issue is a matter of data sharing and integration - protocols for capturing the key semantic aspects of logged events could be published to a common repository that could be continuously monitored, mined and evaluated to determine when some proactive action should take place. Is MDM the answer? Maybe, or perhaps a master repository published to a cloud environment with layered data services for rapid identity resolution...
Oh, check out this interview to understand a little more about national security.
Posted January 6, 2010 6:57 AM
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