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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

DER SPIEGEL's survey of the Security Debate within Germany after the Christmas Market Bombing

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...unsuccessfully walks a tightrope between serious analysis and reportage on the one hand, and infuriating hand-wringing and wool-gathering on the other. I believe the latter wins out.

The image of the gray semi-truck in the middle of an idyllically decorated square marks a turning point for Germany. Islamist terror has arrived in full force. It is no longer merely apparent in the form of arrests and investigations, no longer present in speeches about "abstract threats" and the serious expressions on the faces of security agency heads following the comparatively minor attacks of last summer. Islamist terror has now struck at the heart of German culture -- a Christmas market shortly before Christmas Eve.
And the facts speak for themselves: German security agencies were unable to prevent the attack despite the fact that its perpetrator, Anis Amri, had been known for months to be an Islamist threat. Numerous agencies had files on him, they were aware of his contacts to Islamic State and they knew that he had searched the internet for bomb-building instructions.
It is never easy for a democracy to find the correct equilibrium between freedom and security, but Germany thus far has done an adequate job of balancing out political reflexes [emphasis mine].
Domestic security/intelligence is handled not only by a Federal agency but also by agencies in each of Germany's 16 states. How that decentralization or dispersion of authority and responsibility prevented decisive action in the case of Anis Amri the DER SPIEGEL article makes appallingly clear.    

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