Speech Analysis: Terrorism

President Obama says he's filling "unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack with better airline security, and swifter action on our intelligence."

The president had announced some changes earlier this month, from improving the "no fly" list — to do a better job of keeping dangerous people off airplanes — to directing that intelligence reports be shared more rapidly and widely among the various spy agencies. But many of the changes that have been announced so far are pretty vague.

For example, all the president has said so far on intelligence analysis is that he wants to strengthen the process of "how our analysts process and integrate the intelligence that they receive." And he has said he wants intelligence leads to be "pursued and acted on aggressively." That raises the questions: Why weren't they doing this before? And what specifically is going to change?

One other point: Obama said in his speech that in the last year, "hundreds of al-Qaida's fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed — far more than in 2008." These numbers are incredibly difficult to verify independently. What we do know is that the president has dramatically increased attacks by unmanned drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan. But the big fish — Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri — are still out there.



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