If you blinked (which takes about 400 milliseconds), you might have missed the news that it looks like law enforcement foiled the 40th plot aimed at the United States since 9/11. In an analysis of the incident, Jena McNeill and Jessica Zuckerman report, “On June 22, the FBI arrested Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif and Walli Mujahidh in a Seattle warehouse, where the two suspects had arranged to purchase weapons from an anonymous informant in contact with the Seattle Police Department. They were looking to purchase automatic machine guns and grenades in preparation for an attack on a military recruiting station in Seattle.”
Last week, John Brennan unveiled the new counterterrorism strategy. Some may argue that the new strategy shifts appropriate attention to these threats. Certainly, that is what Brennan boasted when he claimed this is the first strategy to really focus on the homeland. I think Brennan is overly enamored with his own talking points. The “second” Bush homeland security strategy specifically singled out “homegrown” threats and domestic radicalization as a cause for concern. Domestic threats have been a focus of the National Counterterrorism Center since its inception. There is a reason why 40 plots have been foiled since 9/11, and it is not because of insufficient attention on the homefront.
Oh, that hyperbole was not the only flaw with the administration’s new counterterrorism strategy, which seems to add to little more than documenting the changes in the threat we see on CNN and playing whack-a-mole with terrorists. The strategy ignores what has diminished and frustrated the threat over the last ten years and instead repackages this administration’s penchant for a minimalist approach to national security with marketing slogans that sound like they are peddling new and improved dish soap.
The reality is by scaling back, the administration is giving al Qaeda and the Taliban a chance to get back in the game.