There has been much public criticism concerning European counterterrorism failings in the wake of the Paris and Brussels attacks. It has been widely reported in the media that the US intelligence community was well aware of clear deficiencies in this regard. In fact, after the Paris bombing, senior US officials publicly promised to provide the French with the same level of information that the US has been providing to the British for years. Such expressions of support raise a question: Why was the US not providing that level of information to the French before the Paris attacks?
It is well and good that the US and European counterterrorism partners intend to re-commit to two-way, broad information sharing on a near real time basis. For without robust information sharing as a foundation for cooperation, there is a strong possibility that threat-related information will not be passed until after the fact. The dangers of inadequate information are aggravated in the case of unprecedented attacks, because the “dots” or indicators of a plot that has never occurred would presumably be harder for analysts to identify and neutralize.