NCTC Releases Flight 253 Statement, Says Nothing

Michael E. Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, just emailed this statement to reporters:

The failed attempt to destroy Northwest Flight 253 is the starkest of reminders of the insidious terrorist threats we face.  While this attempt ended in failure we know with absolute certainty that Al-Qa’ida and those who support its ideology continue to refine their methods to test our defenses and pursue an attack on the Homeland.  Our most sacred responsibility is to be focused on our mission – detecting and preventing terrorist attacks from happening on our soil and against U.S. interests.  The American people expect and deserve nothing less.

Kind of a rah-rah-America-fuck-yeah statement and nothing else. Given what we know so far, NCTC is the place in the process for visa-revocation and no-fly-placement where the Abdulmutallab case bottlenecks. And for very defensible reasons! Leiter neither apologizes nor explains. If there’s a subtext here, it’s

a) Remember, people, that this attack failed;

b) We’re not saying we did shit wrong unless/until you show us what that is;

c) We’re hyper-aware about this going forward;

d) If you’ve got an Arab/Pakistani/Afghan-sounding last name, don’t book any vacations for Manhattan in 2010.

Kind of amazing it took NCTC a week to issue this one. Oh, and would I be parsing Leiter’s statement too much to note that his construction “Al-Qa’ida and those who support its ideology” is more of a hedge on Abdulmutallab’s connections to AQ than Obama used?

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman