Always aware of the how easily disasters can be politicized, our secretary of homeland insecurity has been heard from.
In a kind of pre-emptive political strike, Janet Napolitano has denounced any comparison between the huge oil spill now approaching the Gulf Coast and Katrina, when the levees in New Orleans broke with terrifying results. Any such comparison, she says, would be a "total mischaracterization."
Speaking of total mischaracterization, this is the same secretary of homeland security who assured the country that the almost successful Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Flight 253, a case study in official bumbling, proved that "the system worked."
Actually, it was only alert passengers, not the secretary's vaunted system, that prevented a disaster in the air. Just as it took a couple of sidewalk vendors and a diligent cop to spot that smoking SUV in Times Square the other day.
Let's hope the secretary doesn't think having a greasy menace the size of Puerto Rico menacing the coast is another testament to how well the system worked.
A lot of people deserve a lot of credit for apprehending the suspect in the Times Square bombing attempt. And a lot of people don't. The suspect was pulled off a plane to Dubai, one of the world's great intersections of terrorism and counter-terrorism, but our secretary of homeland insecurity had no immediate explanation for why he was allowed to board in the first place -- after having bought his ticket for cash at the last minute. Much like the suspect in the Christmas Day bombing.
The country has learned a lot since September 11, 2001, and this administration seems to have learned a lot even since the Christmas Day bomber almost brought down that airliner as it approached Detroit from Amsterdam. Even though the White House no longer calls it a war on terror, it's waging one nevertheless, using some of the methods it inherited from the previous administration -- methods Barack Obama spent a lot time denouncing when he was still a presidential candidate instead of president and commander-in-chief. With power comes responsibility.
Unfortunately, this commander-in-chief may not be using enough of the methods at his disposal to combat terror -- like military commissions. The suspect in this bombing, like the one on Christmas Day, was read his Miranda rights instead of being treated as an unlawful combatant and turned over to military justice -- and interrogation.