We should stop spending money and resources trying to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.
Take some of those savings and pay for security personell around the world at every entry point into the United States. If someone or something has access to our land, then people trained by us, using our standards should be certifying that they and/or it is safe. This includes not only airplanes, but ships, products, and people of any origin.
Have 1 person oversee every single threat to the United States. That person's job should be to monitor a computer output. Then have a system where every bit of information is inputed into that one system in real-time. Have both computer and human analysis as to what all the information means. I'm assuming in 200-2010 that a computer would be able to connect:
father says son is dangerous
person is from Nigeria, has been in Yemen for months
buys plane ticket for United States
human intelligence indicates Nigerian radicals want to attack
From all the news stories, this information was all available to and known by different people in positions of responsibility.
It's a marvel as to why the Bush administration and now the Obama administration hasn't erected a system as simple as what I'm describing.
The problem comes with people who think they know better than their colleagues and have a need to be essential. They reflexively want to keep things secret.
The system needs to be designed so that every time an attack gets to the implementation stage, someone gets fired. Someone gets embarrassed.
On the other side, everytime a plot is exposed and stopped without damage, there should be a significant bonus. Big Money!!!
So we trade money to fight needless wars for real security.
There should be real incentive at every level to share tidbits of information.
If there was a significat sum available for the person who denied this Nigerian terrorist access to an airplane, and money to the person who reported his stay in Yemen, and so on... I believe the plot wouldn't have gotten so far. Then we'd just be arguing over who deserves how much of the money.
That's the key, it is having big money on the line if what you find out relevant information (and act on it properly) versus you being fired if you don't pass it along.
We need to be honest here, these terrorists are rather simple. They aren't doing things that baffle our most intelligent security minds. It's not as if you need to know calculus to understand.
It's a matter of leadership from the top, and a willingness to change the culture.