Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Why did the Indian Government Ignore Warnings Prior to the Mumbai Attack?

The Indian government was warned prior to the Mumbai terror attacks by it's own intelligence agency well in advance (see video below). Why did they ignore the warnings? It is reminiscent of what happened prior to 9-11 and before the London terror attack.

India's intelligence agency warned as recently as November 18 that Pakistan-based militants were preparing to launch an attack on Mumbai - warnings that the Indian authorities are now accused of ignoring in the months before gunmen stormed the country's financial capital, killing at least 174 people.

Indian and European intelligence officials tell CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar the information gathered was specific enough to cite threats to Mumbai's main hotels, and the possibility that Islamic militants might use boats to penetrate the city's weak coastal defenses.

The investigation into last week's attack is still developing, but law enforcement officials have said about 10 well-armed, well-trained terrorists came ashore on small boats Tuesday night before methodically ambushing guests at two of Mumbai's most exclusive hotels.

The head of an Indian fishermens' union says he warned the government that militants were using sea routes to smuggle explosives four months ago, reports MacVicar, and a captured Lashkar-e-Taiba operative told Indian interrogators months ago that he had carried out reconnaissance of both the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, or LET, is the Pakistan-based group increasingly suspected as being behind the Mumbai attacks. Intelligence sources tell CBS News that the LET is still getting some level of logistical and financial support from members of Pakistan's powerful military spy agency.

[...]"One of the problems is that they had so many warnings that they didn't know which ones to take seriously," said Michael Clarke, a terrorism expert and director of the Royal United Services Institute.

Clarke told CBS News that India's counterterrorism apparatus is in bad shape; used to getting so many warnings that they've become "out of the habit of taking them seriously."

"If you look at the pattern of attacks there (there were two previous attaks in Mumbai) it's astonishing that it's not better," said Clarke.

Senior Indian government officials, including ministers, have already resigned, but angry protesters have been taking to the streets, demanding to know why all the warnings were ignored.

Watch CBS Videos Online
There had been similar terror attacks in Mumbai. The Indian government should have been prepared. This incident is from 2006:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh praised this wounded city for its strength Wednesday, vowing that “no one can make India kneel,” while a senior investigator said the Mumbai train attacks that killed at least 200 people could be linked to a Kashmiri militant group.

A Foreign Ministry official demanded that Pakistan dismantle all terrorist networks on land it controls — but fell short of directly accusing India’s nuclear-armed rival for the attacks.

Singh highlighted the achievements of this city of 16 million, which staggered back to life despite attacks on the commuter train network Tuesday that killed at least 200 people and wounded more than 700.

“Your resilience and resolve will triumph over the evil designs of the merchants of death and destruction,” Singh said in a televised speech. “Let me say again, no one can make India kneel. No one can come in the path of our progress.”

Eight bombs ripped through packed trains at rush hour, stunning a city that sees itself as the embodiment of India’s global ambitions, where the country’s business community and entertainment world come together. The number of dead has risen steadily as rescuers have found more bodies and people died of their injuries.

President Obama Press Conference (12-1-08)

President-elect Obama held a press/news conference to introduce his new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Read the complete transcript here.

Last week, we announced our economic team, which is working as we speak to craft an economic recovery program to create jobs and grow our struggling economy. Today, Vice President-elect Biden and I are pleased to announce our national security team.

The national security challenges we face are just as grave and just as urgent as our economic crisis. We are fighting two wars. Our old conflicts remain unresolved, and newly assertive powers have put strains on the international system. The spread of nuclear weapons raises the peril that the world's deadliest technologies could fall into dangerous hands. Our dependence on foreign oil empowers authoritarian governments and endangers our planet.

America must also be strong at home to be strong abroad. We need to provide education and opportunity to all our citizens, so every American can compete with anyone, anywhere. And our economic power must sustain our military strength, our diplomatic leverage, and our global leadership.

The common thread linking these challenges is the fundamental reality that in the 21st century our destiny is shared with the world's. From our markets to our security, from our public health to our climate, we must act with that understanding that, now more than ever, we have a stake in what happens across the globe. And as we learned so painfully on 9/11, terror cannot be contained by borders, nor safely provided by oceans alone.

Last week, we were reminded of this threat once again when terrorists took the lives of six Americans among nearly 200 victims in Mumbai. In the world we seek, there is no place for those who kill innocent civilians to advance hateful extremism. This weekend, I told Prime Minister Singh of India that Americans stand with the people of India in this dark time. And I am confident that India's great democracy is more resilient than killers who would tear it down.

And so, in this uncertain world, the time has come for a new beginning, a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges. We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships. We will show the world once more that America is relentless in the defense of our people, steady in advancing our interests and committed to the ideals that shine as a beacon to the world -- democracy and -- (audio break) -- because American values are America's greatest export to the world.

To succeed, we must pursue a new strategy that skillfully uses, balances and integrates all elements of American power: our military and diplomacy, our intelligence and law enforcement, our economy and the power of our moral example.

The team that we've assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that. In their past service and plans for the future, these men and women represent all of those elements of American power, and the very best of the American example. They have served in uniform and as diplomats; they have worked as legislators, law enforcement officials and executives. They share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America's role as a leader in the world.

I have known Hillary Clinton as a friend, a colleague, a source of counsel and a tough campaign opponent. She possesses an extraordinary intelligence and a remarkable work ethic. I am proud that she will be our next secretary of State. She is an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence, who knows many of the world's leaders, who will command respect in every capital, and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world.

Hillary's appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances. There is much to do -- from preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to Iran and North Korea, to seeking a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, to strengthening international institutions. I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department, and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda.

At a time when we face an unprecedented transition amidst two wars, I have asked Secretary Robert Gates to continue as secretary of Defense, and I'm pleased that he's accepted. Two years ago, he took over the Pentagon at a difficult time. He restored accountability. He won the confidence of military commanders, and the trust of our brave men and women in uniform, as well as their families. He earned the respect of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for his pragmatism and competence. He knows that we need a sustainable national security strategy, and that includes a bipartisan consensus at home.

Charlie Gibson Interviews an Unapologetic George Bush

ABC's Charlie Gibson interviewed the soon to be President George Bush. Read the complete transcript and see the video here.

GIBSON: Do you feel in any way responsible for what's happening?

BUSH: You know, I'm the President during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in President, during I arrived in President.

I'm a little upset that we didn't get the reforms to Fannie and Freddie -- on Fannie and Freddie, because I think it would have helped a lot. And when people review the history of this administration, people will say that this administration tried hard to get a regulator. And there will be a lot of analysis of why that didn't happen. I suspect people will find a lot of it didn't happen for pure political reasons.

[...]GIBSON: That's the second time I've heard you use the word "joyful" about the presidency, and that might take people by surprise. Even in really tough times?

BUSH: Oh, yes. As I said, some times are happy, some not happy. I don't want people to misconstrue. It's not -- I don't feel joyful when somebody loses their life, nor do I feel joyful from somebody loses a job. That concerns me. And the President ends up carrying a lot of people's grief in his soul during a presidency. One of the things about the presidency is you deal with a lot of tragedy -- whether it be hurricanes, or tornadoes, or fires, or death -- and you spend time being the Comforter-in-Chief. But the idea of being able to serve a nation you love is -- has been joyful. In other words, my spirits have never been down. I have been sad, but the spirits are up.

[...]GIBSON: Was the election in any way a repudiation of the Bush administration?

BUSH: I think it was a repudiation of Republicans. And I'm sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me. I think most people voted for Barack Obama because they decided they wanted him to be in their living room for the next four years explaining policy. In other words, they made a conscious choice to put him in as President.

GIBSON: But both candidates wound up criticizing you a lot.

BUSH: Yes, well, that's what happens when you're the incumbent during a tough economic time, but --


BUSH: No, not really. You know, I've been around politics a long time. Remember, I was the guy in 2000 who campaigned for change. I campaigned for change when I ran for governor of Texas. The only time I really didn't campaign for change is when I was running for reelection.

[...]GIBSON: Do you feel the divisions are deeper, the enmities perhaps a little stronger, the language a little tougher now than it was January 20, 2001?

BUSH: Yes, I do. I do. I think -- I don't know, the close election created some pretty harsh language. But once I was President I think people decided that, well, let's try to work with him, and I said, I'd like to work with you, and we did some pretty good things. But having said that, Washington has always been politics. I mean, if you, like, for example, study the early Presidents, there's some pretty tough language when it came to Abraham Lincoln, or the relationship between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

So I didn't go into this naively, I knew it would be tough. But I also knew that the President has the responsibility to try to elevate the tone. And, frankly, it just didn't work, as well as I'd like to have it work.

GIBSON: I guess the bottom-line question I'm asking you is, do you feel you were in any way able to change Washington? Or do you feel --

BUSH: I think we did. I think we brought a results-oriented government, and we insisted that people focus on results, not process, and on a variety of reforms. Whether it be No Child Left Behind, or like the PEPFAR Initiative, or the Malaria Initiative, the question we always asked was, are we achieving the results?

Washington can be a very process-oriented town. The budget process -- let's just pass money because the program sounds good. We worked hard to say, is the program achieving the results? If not, let's eliminate it.