Analyzing Massacres and Terrorist Plots: The Dangers of Hindsight

Any time there is mass shooting, terrorist attack, or other type of mass killing; the media is flooded with criticisms and hindsight observations as to how such attacks and how such tragedies could have been avoided.  Granted, there is much to be said about the importance of such analysis. It is important to look for flaws in the system and ways that the system can be improved; however, people neglect to realize that they are looking at the incident in a vacuum. They do not see all of the information and research that was going into more credible threats, they do not see the outside factors that lessened the credibility for the threat in question, and they do not see, or appreciate, all of the day to day police work and investigation that clutters up the process.

In a recent New York Times Article, the author, Mark Lewis, discusses outside analysis of a terrorist plot regarding a bombing and shooting in Norway that occurred in the summer of 2011. The report in question criticizes the local police, security officials, and the judiciary on several levels. In fact, such reports have lead to a plague of resignations among top members of these groups. Some of these criticisms include not acting on tips that the perpetrator in question had purchased materials for making explosives, slow police response time, and failure to follow up on leads given by civilians after the attack. Granted, these are all apparently valid criticisms, but one must keep in mind that there are many other factors involved here. Events like these do not occur in isolation. In fact, they occur in the midst of numerous other investigations and numerous other threats. Rather than criticize and call for resignations, the international community needs to take a step back to observe and learn, rather than criticize and point fingers.

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