Clueless. It’s the word that best describes the Obama administration’s first year in office. They’ve proven themselves clueless about creating jobs; clueless about handling growing nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea; and now, most devastatingly, clueless about protecting Americans from terrorist attacks on our own soil. And with nearly one year under the belts, they can’t keep blaming the Bush administration for everything that goes awry.
It is hard to imagine a more incompetent handling of the thwarted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. jetliner. First, the commander in chief was too busy enjoying his vacation in Hawaii to do much more than issue platitudinous assurances that he was "actively monitoring" the incident, while dispersing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to the weekend talk shows to downplay the significance of the event.
When the news media began uncovering evidence that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was exactly who he claimed to be when taken into custody -- a terrorist tied to an al-Qaida network in Yemen -- the administration began backtracking on its earlier statements that the incident was not part of a larger terrorist plot and that "the system worked." But it took the president three days to appear before the American public to insist on a thorough investigation. By that time, everyone knew that the would-be suicide bomber’s own father had alerted U.S. intelligence officials of his son’s threat to American security. But the warnings didn’t keep Abdulmutallab off a jetliner headed to the United States.
Even the words the president used in his press conference Dec. 28 suggest how clueless he is. He described Abdulmutallab as a "passenger (who) allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device," repeatedly referring to Abdulmutallab in his comments as a "suspect." These are the weasel words we use when talking about ordinary criminals, which is no accident. The Obama administration’s anti-terrorism philosophy is to treat terrorist attacks like criminal actions, not acts of war.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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