Thursday, January 7, 2010

Underwhelming Response To Terrorism

To borrow a phrase, "Let me be clear"...

Barack Obama sucks at fighting terrorism.
If his lackadaisical response to the Undie Bomber attack on Christmas Day is any indication (and I believe it is), it simply provides further evidence that fighting terrorism and protecting America from terrorist attacks is nothing more than an unwanted irritation or distraction from his real mission of looking out for number one re-making America into his vision of a statist paradise. But he's not alone. It took Obama three days to make a statement after the attack, but his counter-terrorism chief, Michael Leiter, couldn't be bothered to come down off the ski slopes for several days after that:

The top official in charge of analyzing terror threats did not cut short his ski vacation after the underwear bomber nearly blew up an airliner on Christmas Day, the Daily News has learned.

Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center since 2007, decided not to return to his agency's "bat cave" nerve center in McLean, Va., until several days after Christmas, two U.S. officials said.

"People have been grumbling that he didn't let a little terrorism interrupt his vacation," said one of the sources.

The NCTC, the post-9/11 clearinghouse for intelligence to detect terror plots against the U.S., is under intense scrutiny for failing to "connect the dots" on Nigerian bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Hot Air points out a rather significant difference between the two:
Presidents remain on the job regardless of their location. One can certainly criticize the optics of staying in Hawaii rather than returning home to the White House to handle the situation, but Obama had plenty of resources at his command in Hawaii to actually do his job. The same cannot be said for Leiter. His job is in the NCTC, and it can't be done from the ski slopes, not even with a hands-free Bluetooth headset connected to his cell phone. The need for Leiter's leadership was obvious from almost the first few hours, when people wondered how American intel allowed the EunuchBomber to keep his visa after the State Department got a tip from his Nigerian banker father that his son was a danger to the US. If heads should roll after this incident, perhaps Leiter's should be first.
From other reports, it looks like Obama is indeed going to throw Leiter under the bus. You can count on the fact that it'll be Bush's fault (Leiter was appointed by Bush) despite the fact that Obama left him in that same position after taking office.

Regardless, I'm not sure why this is a surprise. If it's not a priority to the top dog, why would it be a top priority to the people around the top dog? Apparently, the only people who care about terrorism (outside the military) are Americans in the trenches at the border, on the planes, working the phones, and doing their jobs every day who continually prove to be the ones stopping terrorist attacks. It's a shame that the administration can't be bothered to share the concern of those they're sworn to protect, even to the point of implementing policies that would make their jobs easier.
But, Obama's suckage on terrorism goes beyond this most recent attack. For example, he plunged boldly ahead with a plan to return Gitmo terrorists to...wait for it...Yemen:
Barack Obama explained on Tuesday that the mere fact that Yemen can't control its own state and that a good percentage of Gitmo detainees released wind up back in al-Qaeda won't deflect him from releasing more terrorists and closing Gitmo. In fact, Obama says that al-Qaeda expanded to Yemen because we opened Gitmo in the first place
Sounds nice, but that's incorrect. And even if it was correct...
So what? AQ also uses the US-Israel alliance, the American military presence in the Gulf region, the war in Af-Pak and Iraq, and our status as infidels for recruiting tools. Using this logic, we should abandon Israel, sail out of southwest Asia and Africa, and convert to Islam in order to take away their other recruiting tools.

In fact, why don't we just surrender altogether? I bet that would really cut into AQ's recruiting, right?

This is a great example of the non-logic pretzel-magic employed by liberals to avoid facing the reality that terrorists are on a deep-seated ideological quest to kill Americans. Reality is pretty cold and hard sometimes, and for someone to see only ponies and rainbows while being in charge of fighting terrorism...well, people are going to die because of this irrational mindset. People almost died on Christmas Day because of it. So Barack Obama then announced that he'd temporarily hold off on the return of Gitmo terrorists to Yemen. Emphasis on the temporary part. Despite the fact that the number of former Gitmo inmates returning to active terrorist duty has now risen to 20%, the Obama administration is playing the blame-Bush card:
A White House official told ABC News, "We have been presented with no information that suggests that any of the detainees transferred by this administration have returned to the fight…
How does that help (or excuse) anything? Analysis:
Is the insinuation that Bush officials were too comparatively stupid to know a recidivist when they saw one? Or is this more of an MSNBC-esque conspiracy accusation that the Bushies knew some of these guys were likely to take up arms again and yet they freed them anyway? A word to the wise in the White House: If you're going to greenlight the release of people like Qais Khazali, whose pockets are lined with Iranian money and whose hands are stained with American blood, be very, very careful about pointing fingers. Especially when you've released half a dozen Yemeni Gitmo detainees within the past three weeks. The odds say at least one of them will be back on the field trying to kill Americans again soon. What's the excuse then?
Ponies and rainbows...ponies and rainbows...ponies and rainbows... Finally, we have a devastating critique of Obama's handling of the Undie Bomber from former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. There's a load of great content in here, but I've pulled out the main theme:

There was much to celebrate in the providential combination of an incompetent terrorist and surpassingly brave passengers and crew who saved 288 people aboard Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas Day. There is a lot less to applaud in the official reaction.

Well-deserved mockery has already been heaped on the move-along-folks-nothing-to-see-here tone of the administration's initial pronouncements—from Janet Napolitano's "the system worked," to President Obama's statement that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was an "isolated extremist." This week brought little improvement.

The president acknowledged that the plot had been hatched in Yemen, but not without adding the misleading statement that Yemen faces "crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies." That Yemenis have to cope with "crushing poverty" is irrelevant here. Abdulmutallab is the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker.

Then, too, there was the unfortunate metaphor chosen by a senior intelligence adviser to account for why a conspiracy helped along by at least two Guantanamo alumni had not been discovered before Abdulmutallab boarded the plane. There was, he said, "no smoking gun"—a clue one would expect to find after disaster strikes, not before. There were, as it happens, many smokeless but redolent clues lying about before the plane took off. These included Abdulmutallab's father's warning to the State Department that his son was being radicalized and had gone to Yemen; the one-way ticket purchased for cash; no luggage; and intercepted communication referring to a plot involving "the Nigerian" in Yemen.

But it is not so much these gaffes as what they appear to reflect that gives serious cause for concern. Even as the initial spin was in progress, Abdulmutallab was chattering like a magpie to his FBI captors about having been trained by al Qaeda and about there being more where he came from.

Braggadocio aside, he was certainly aware of who had prepared the potentially deadly mix that was sewn in his underwear, who had trained him, where the training had taken place, whether there was in fact a South Asian man described by two other passengers who helped him talk his way on to the plane, and a good deal more. Such facts are valuable but evanescent intelligence. The location of people—and with it our ability to find and neutralize them—is subject to rapid change.

Had Abdulmutallab been turned over immediately to interrogators intent on gathering intelligence, valuable facts could have been gathered and perhaps acted upon.

What the gaffes, the almost comically strained avoidance of such direct terms as "war" and "Islamist terrorism," and the failure to think of Abdulmutallab as a potential source of intelligence rather than simply as a criminal defendant seem to reflect is that some in the executive branch are focused more on not sounding like their predecessors than they are on finding and neutralizing people who believe it is their religious duty to kill us. That's too bad, because the Constitution vests "the executive power"—not some of it, all of it—in the president. He, and those acting at his direction, are responsible for protecting us.

There is much to worry about if they think that the principal challenge of the day is detecting bombs at the airport rather than actively searching out, finding and neutralizing terrorists before they get there.

Barack Obama and his entire administration are becoming more and more dangerous to the American people with each day they remain in charge of this country. There's my two cents.

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