The terror “event” over Detroit on Christmas Day hits closer to home for me than it may for many other people around the country. I live in Detroit. The house I grew up in—the house my 81-year- old mother still lives in, is in the landing pattern of Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport where Abdulmutallab had planned to detonate himself with the intent of causing catastrophic loss of life in the air and as much collateral damage on the ground as possible.
So when President Obama held a press conference to update the country on his administration’s response to this near “man-made disaster” in the skies over Detroit, you can bet I was hanging on every word. He made his nine-minute statement having just emerged from a high level meeting with his cabinet to formulate a response to the Flight 253 attack.
The president called his cabinet together “because we face a challenge of the utmost urgency,” but evidently not so urgent that his aides didn’t inform him about the terror attack over Detroit until three hours after the plane landed. He didn’t make a public statement about it until three days after it had happened. He continued his Hawaiian vacation for ten days after it happened. Remember that President Bush was roundly criticized for continuing to read to kindergartners for five minutes after the attack on 9/11.
The president’s nonplussed response to a critical breach of airline security not seen since 9/11 is inexplicable unless one concludes that the president does not view his actions or those of his administration as in any way responsible for the breach. He spoke of the “systemic failures” of the “intelligence community” and “the U.S. Government,” as if these were entities without a face totally disconnected from his presidency. In fact, in his statement, President Obama took no responsibility at all for the failures leading up to the attack over Detroit. Rather he informed us that “...the system has failed in a potentially disastrous way. And it’s my responsibility to find out why and to correct that failure so that we can prevent such attacks in the future.”