The Obama team has its rationale for drone attacks. It stresses that the drone attacks have degraded the capabilities of the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda, without putting U.S. troops in harm’s way on Pakistani soil. What this calculus ignores is the damage drone attacks inflict on America’s reputation in the Muslim world and the “possibilities of blowback,” about which the CIA, which leads the drone war, has rightly warned. The war on the AfPak border has replaced Iraq as the main source of homegrown radicalization. Qaeda’s effort to find and recruit terrorists has been replaced by a bottom-up flow of volunteers, a flow that is currently very weak, and extremely difficult to track. What these individuals had in common was that they were radicalized online, typically by coverage of the AfPak battles.
Because it sometimes takes hours, or even days, for all airlines to enter new “no fly” listings in their reservation computers—the idea being that once someone is put on the “no fly” list no airline should sell that person a ticket or give them a boarding pass—in cases where a name (like that of a major crime suspect) is added to the list at the last minute, Homeland Security does maintain procedures for sending out what amounts to an APB about the new listing. In the case of Faisal Shahzad, who was added to the “no fly” list around 12.30 pm on May 3 after investigators determined he was the prime suspect in the failed car bombing on the evening of May 1, Homeland Security started to make phone calls to various airlines to warn them that Shahzad’s name had been added to the list and that they should check their reservations and passenger manifests carefully.
However, the officials said, at the FBI’s request, some, but not all airlines, were notified of the new listing. The official said the FBI was concerned that giving out Shahzad’s name to too many people might fuel news leaks that grew into a torrent during the afternoon of May 3. Among the airlines which was not phoned with the APB about the new “no fly” listing for Shahzad: Emirates Airlines, the very carrier Shahzad had chosen to try to evade a massive dragnet.