Listening to the statement President Obama issued late this afternoon on the reports given to him from the various agencies involved in the Christmas Day bomb attempt in the jet flying to Detroit, the question is: What was to be shocked about? In the lead up to the statement, Counter terror adviser John Brennan stated that the American people would no doubt be shocked by what they would hear.
Listeners learned very little news. Almost all of the president's statement contained previously mentioned facts from twenty-four hour cable news.
Turns out, the shock was President Obama accepting some blame for the failure to detect the attempted attack and that no one will be fired, at least not at this time. Business as usual in an administration not willing to assign blame. How does this deter the next lapse in judgement?
Another point that may have unintentionally shocked listeners: "We are at war with al-Qaeda." The president,hell-bent to be the un-Bush,uttered a rarely mentioned recognition of the time in which we live. You'll remember he signed an Executive Order to close GITMO without a plan for those held there as his first official big act. If GITMO is the cause of resentment of our lifestyle in the West by Islamic fanatics, what was the reason for 9/11/01? There was no GITMO then. It is a basic difference in those who prosecute terrorists as criminals versus those who use military tribunals.
Or, maybe we should voice shock at the fact that Counter terror Adviser John Brennan was surprised to learn of the link between al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Afghanistan. This is the man who hit the Sunday morning talk shows and boasted of being a veteran of the last five presidential administrations. If he's the expert put out for relaying this administration's talking points, why is he not able to connect the dots?
From National Review Online:
"Obama assigned a measure of blame to himself. “Ultimately, the buck stops with me,” he said. “When the system fails, it is my responsibility.” He then outlined four initiatives to improve counter terror intelligence-gathering, including:
1) The assignment of responsibility to specific intelligence officers for following up on high-profile threats
2) Quicker and wider distribution of intelligence communiques among agencies.
3) Unspecified changes to strengthen the analytical process, to be determined by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and the president's intelligence advisory board.
4) Strengthened criteria for adding potential terrorists to the no-fly list.
The president also addressed improvements to airport security measures. He said that the Department of Homeland Security will work to strengthen partnerships with airports around the world, promulgate the best current screening technologies, and spur research and development of new screening technologies."
So, we'll buy more stuff - more machines for screening boarding passengers at airports, etc. But the true need is to continue to adapt an offensive position rather than defensive, after the fact. This is an enemy that has figured out the success in recruiting young men with no prior terror record and gullible enough to agree to attempt an attack. The enemy is nimble and fluid.
An excerpt from the press release sent from the office of Senator John Cornyn reads:
“I appreciate the President’s admission that mistakes were made here, but this is the same conclusion the Administration reached in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Fort Hood,” Sen. Cornyn also said. “Our National Security Advisor said that the President ‘certainly doesn't want that third strike.’ In light of this, I am hopeful the Administration will use this third chance to address the failures that allowed the Christmas Day attempt, as well as the Fort Hood attack, to occur - the safety of the American people depends on it.”
President Obama has presided over two attacks now within our own country - one at Fort Hood, which left 13 dead and twenty plus people injured, and the unsuccessful attack on the jetliner on Christmas Day. Red flags were everywhere for both. Dots were not connected.
We do not need the test of a third attack. We do not need political appointees in positions for which they are not qualified. These top positions are in need of professional experts to execute strong leadership. Messages are being sent from this administration that they are not particularly serious on keeping the homeland safe, whether that is a fair conclusion or not. Just because the current Director of Homeland Security felt the need to 're-name' the war on terror doesn't mean it went away. Kinder and gentler is not a winning strategy.
We do not need the test of a third attack.