Northwest Flight 253: How Do We Reconcile the Risk Posed by a Failed Attempt?

Sometime around the end of 2009, in the wake of Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt to bring down Northwest flight 253, I was having a conversation about the incident.  My fellow converser expressed hesitation to declare the incident a security breach.  Her hesitation was rooted in the fact that the attempt was unsuccessful.  To put her hesitation into my own words, how can we conclude that a terrorist attempt that failed nonetheless had a high probability of success?  And without fully understanding Abdulmutallab’s probability of success, how can we declare that a security breach occurred?

Continue reading “Northwest Flight 253: How Do We Reconcile the Risk Posed by a Failed Attempt?”