By Amy Zegart
Sunday, July 8, 2007; Page B01
The hunt was on last week as British intelligence officials searched for suspects in the attempted bombings in Scotland and London. After the attention fades, they’ll examine what went right and wrong and how to do better next time. Let’s hope that in doing so, they’ll be more successful than the United States has been since Sept. 11, 2001.
Our national response to the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history has consisted chiefly of finger pointing and ax grinding. Some say Clinton administration officials were too wimpy in their response to earlier al-Qaeda attacks outside the United States. Others think that Bush administration officials were out to lunch, so preoccupied with Cold War bogeymen that they never noticed the CIA’s memo warning of Osama bin Laden’s determination to strike on U.S. soil.
We’ve become obsessed with the personal drama of failure. As Bob Woodward wrote in his book “The Commanders”: “Decision making at the highest levels . . . is a complex human interaction. . . . This human story is the core.”