03/20/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

American Intelligence and Those Ignored Clues

As children, whenever my siblings and I rushed through our chores in slapdash fashion, my father often incorporated his own curious colloquialism by exasperating, "Dblish! Dblish!" We knew what he meant and were required to pull the vacuum out again to get the dirt we missed under the couches or take the pan from the cabinet and scrub it till there was no residue. In other words, we were required to pay attention to details, in spite of the fact that we found his "dblish, dblish" annoying and would rather be outside playing than correct our sloppiness. I now find that expression amusing, but the point is, we weren't allowed to get away with doing the minimum.

For some reason, I thought of this while reading about how so many clues were missed in regard to the underwear bomber by those we depend on to protect us. There are quite a few threads that had been collected by the American Intelligence Agencies, according to The New York Times, and yet Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab still managed to get on a plane and come close to taking it, along with many innocent passengers, down.

Then there is the awful tragedy that occurred at Fort Hood in November. Now, after the fact, there will be some officers who will face disciplinary action for not reporting the psychiatrist's disturbing behavior, one that led to a number of senseless deaths. And who can ever forget the federal report from 1999 given to the executive branch stating that terrorists connected to Osama bin Laden might use an airplane as a suicide bomber? One would think this is powerful information to have and, in hindsight, it's obvious just how powerful it was, but why aren't those in charge now paying more attention to the details, especially after the tragedy we went through when that report, along with others, weren't properly addressed?

After 9/11, the MTA campaign with the "If you see something, say something" posters plastered on the trains were a start, but when government officials are missing the big picture, it tells the average citizen that, in reality, there's not a whole lot we can do to stop someone who is determined if "intelligence" cannot do as much. It's one thing to be Henny Penny dashing around screaming the sky is falling and quite another to ignore blatant signs such as a father contacting the US Embassy and warning about his radical son's behavior or having information about Qaeda operatives planning to commandeer a plane (or three) and plow them into high rises and government buildings.

This begs the question, are those who are put in charge lazy, apathetic or simply overwhelmed? That said, haven't we had enough warnings to stay vigilant? One would think, but it is quite likely we'll be picking up the pieces, if there are any pieces left to pick up, after the next missed or ignored sign comes to fruition. Finding fault with the American Intelligence as a whole is one thing, but I do wonder about the individuals who make up the organization. What inspired their career path, if not to guard us against these terrorist acts? Being lax with household chores is one thing, but handling the country's safety with a "dblish, dblish" approach is nothing but unacceptable.