Terror Threats Pay—for the Good Guys

The underwear bomber incident saved the National Counterterrorism Center from suffering budget cuts.

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The underwear bomber, who struck one year ago this month, brought about at least one good thing. The incident nixed a big budget cut at the National Counterterrorism Center. “A year ago, my organization was facing cutbacks in a way that, frankly, would have meant that we couldn’t have done some of the analysis and the watch-listing and that I think are critical pieces of that defensive counterterrorism puzzle,” says anti-terror boss Michael Leiter. But after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab failed to detonate his bomb aboard a Detroit-bound flight, “that trend reversed to some extent and we now have the resources we need to address the current threat.” Leiter says it’s key to spend money right and to tell Congress “what capabilities will be lost without funding.” Still, he adds: “No matter how much we fund, we won’t eliminate all risk.”

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