Prince Mohammed bin Nayef -- head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service -- has to wonder about the words "our" and "we" in the White House commentary. The prince has "skin in the game" when it comes to al-Qaida. In 2009, bin Nayef was nearly killed when an AQAP suicide terrorist detonated a "cavity bomb" during a royal audience. The bomber: al-Asiri's brother.
In an effort to reassure Americans who fly, the Obama administration maintains the capture of the new al-Qaida aircraft bomb demonstrates the effectiveness of "measures that we take to counter threats like this in the aviation industry" and is "indicative of the multifaceted approach" the O-Team is taking for "dealing with the threat." This, too, is institutional arrogance.
Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is concerned that there may well be more bombs and bombers out there. Officials from Janet Napolitano's Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration -- already under investigation for mismanagement, waste, fraud and abuse -- insist the latest scanners can detect the "new and improved" suicide bomb. But Mica has reason to be skeptical. Many overseas airports don't use sophisticated equipment to detect nonmetallic explosive devices.
Members of Congress from both parties are howling about the hemorrhage of classified details regarding how the Saudis penetrated AQAP and the bomb they recovered. On Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters that the leaks "damage our ability to be able to pursue our intelligence efforts." James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, supposedly is conducting an "internal review" to determine whether classified information has been revealed. And just so everyone feels good about all this, an anonymous O-Team source leaked that the FBI has opened a criminal investigation on the leaks. You can't make this stuff up.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration's self-congratulatory "leaks" and hollow assertions about how safe we are from form-fitting exploding underwear mask an even more serious threat to commercial aviation. Four times over the past 10 months, this column has warned about man-portable anti-aircraft missiles missing from Moammar Gadhafi's arsenals in Libya. This week, David Ignatius, writing in The Washington Post, revealed that 800 of the refurbished missiles are now in the hands of al-Qaida-affiliated groups in Africa.
The Obama administration's chest-thumping claim that it is "winning the fight against al-Qaida" is hubris. Worse, the "institutional arrogance" and rejection of "outside" information places anyone who flies in harm's way.
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.