WASHINGTON -- On Wednesday, national security adviser Gen. James Jones warned that we would feel "a certain shock" at revelations in a White House report on what the Obama administration is calling the "failed Christmas terrorist attack." He was referring to the breakdowns that allowed a 23-year-old Nigerian-born, al-Qaida-trained suicide terrorist to nearly bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit. But the stunning information isn't learning "what did we know and when did we know it" leading up to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to detonate a bomb concealed in his underwear. The greatest cause for alarm is in what has happened since.
On Thursday evening -- after multiple delays -- the president stood before a teleprompter in the State Dining Room of the White House to deliver brief "Remarks on Strengthening Intelligence and Aviation Security." He took no questions.
Then, in a "news blitz" that continued on and off the record for more than two hours, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, John Brennan, assistant to the president for counterterrorism, and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs provided additional details on what went wrong and the "reforms and corrective steps" needed to prevent a recurrence. Though the so-called mainstream media showered the presentations with accolades, little of what was said Thursday was reassuring. Some of it was downright disingenuous.
Mr. Obama began his remarks by citing "how our government failed to connect the dots in a way that would have prevented a known terrorist from boarding a plane for America." He subsequently castigated professional intelligence analysts for "a failure to connect the dots of intelligence" and for "a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had."
This assessment ignores a very simple recognition of culpability. It is difficult, if not impossible, for analysts to "connect the dots" when they are being warned not to "jump to conclusions," as Mr. Obama cautioned following Maj. Nidal Hasan's Nov. 5 attack at Fort Hood, in which 13 people were killed. In a remarkably deceptive omission, the president never even mentioned this travesty.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.