Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Analyzing Intelligence Failures, The Yemen Factor, Sanjay Gupta's Year In Review, And Charlie Sheen Arrested

Hi everyone. Your blogger is feeling a little under the weather, so this will be another one of those less than thorough posts. But my snark can easily withstand the sniffles. Don't be going anywhere. Tonight Erica Hill continues her reign in the anchor chair. Anderson Cooper better watch it; she's getting pretty good at his gig.

We kick things off with the news that the father of attempted-bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab not only reported his son's radicalization to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, some of those communications involved CIA officials. From Jeanne Meserve we learn that there was even a report sent to the agency's headquarters in Langley, but it was never received by the wider intelligence community. Ohhhh bureaucracy, you're going to be the literal death of us, aren't you? I'm so glad we spent all those kazillions of dollars to take care of this stuff. Man, I need one of those stress balls.

Next up, we're joined by Barbara Starr, who has more on what is sure to be the first "it" country of 2010. Move over Iraq. Step out of the spotlight Afghanistan. As is the American custom of learning our geography through conflict, Yemen seems to be the next candidate the masses will soon be able to locate on a map. Barbara tells us that the U.S. is looking to hit back at the country, which appears to be where this latest attack attempt originated. Now, were we still under the last administration, this news would have me thinking "Oh God, now we're going to invade Yemen." What a difference a little over a year makes.

Peter Bergen then talks more about the strikes against Yemen targets, which we've actually already been conducting on the relative down low. This leads us into discussion with Frances Townsend, and Jeffrey Goldberg, author of that amazing piece on the TSA that I linked to yesterday. Frances has absolutely no credibility with me. Plus her status as a CNN contributor, coupled with her direct involvement in this story, makes this all very weird, if not outright conflict of interest-y. She should be held to account, yet she has this relationship with CNN. I guess everything is incestuous like that these days.

As for Jeffrey, he makes the excellent point that if a terrorist makes it to the airport, it's probably too late to stop him. In other words, our focus needs to be on things that occur way before we're taking off our shoes in the security line. The panel also talks about ramping things up in Yemen.

Moving on to a Randi Kaye piece on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's online activity. Apparently, he was lonely. I'd recommend Cymbalta over blowing up a plane full of people, but hey, that's just me. From here we talk with Peter Bergen and Kirk Lippold, former commander of the USS Cole. They discuss Al Qaeda recruitment and it's noted that the reason Umar joined up probably can't be pinpointed. Kirk is adamantly against returning Gitmo detainees to Yemen right now, which I suppose sounds reasonable.

Transitioning to Sanjay Gupta's Year in Review! How'd Sanjay get to be so special? Will we have a Gary Tuchman year in review? Randi Kaye? Anyway, Octomom. Natasha Richardson. Swine Flu. Mammograms. Oh my! Save the untimely death of Natasha, Sanjay has seen his share of freak out stories. Remember the very initial swine flu reporting when the media was like, "Zoh my God, swine flu!!" Dun dun dun!! Good times.

Next up, we have an Erica Hill piece on Charlie Sheen, who apparently got himself arrested for assaulting his wife. And I guess we're all supposed to care or something. I mean, don't get me wrong, domestic violence=very bad, but I'm not sure why I need to know about this specific couple. I do, however, appreciate the "History of Violence" graphic. Clever. In the piece, we learn that years ago Sheen shot then girlfriend Kelly Preston in the arm. This is relevant to me because a couple of months ago I went to a trivia night and it was one of my questions. Yeah, I got it wrong. Too late!

The "shot" tonight is a mashup of Billboard's top 25 hits, which Jack Gray has been rather enthusiastically pimping out on Twitter. It's pretty cool. Though I have to say, when it comes to videos that make me smile, this one-shot done to the Black Eye Pea's "I've Gotta Feeling" (Billboard's #4) totally takes the cake. No, it's not perfect, but it's a lot of fun.

The show was okay. Kinda veered off in the second half there with the Sanjay and Charlie Sheen stuff. But eh, holiday week. Guess we can't expect much different. That'll do it.

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