Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Laughing Through Tears: Obama Serious About Terrorism (He Says)

Today Barack Obama addressed America in the wake of the failed Christmas bombing intended to murder nearly 300 passengers and crew of Northwest Airlines Flight 253. While vacationing in Hawaii, the orator hailed by the MSM as capable of transporting observers to the verge of ecstasy managed to eke out only a few belated and perfunctory remarks whose impact, chiefly, was to impress listeners with his lack of empathy with Americans. Apparently, however, some astute Obamatons managed to convince him that the response of most voters to the attempted Christmas bombing was not boredom, but anger. Even in Washington, it must be noted, not everyone and their brother has military flights at their beck and call, and Democrat politicians are as likely as the rest of us to prefer staying alive to blind adherence to a PC policy of avoidance of enemy identification. So, in his remarks this afternoon, Obama tried to add a little emotional oomph to his voice as he itemized the improvements in airline security that he will be demanding.

Obama tried to sound angry; not only was he angry, but he was angry. Obama even admitted to the conclusion that "we face a challenge of the utmost urgency."

Before Obama let America in on the secret that he was shocked (shocked!) that a peace-loving, civilization-building, Yemeni-trained "extremist" had almost caused a disaster, he first gathered together his entourage of security "leaders" for a little talking to--wink, wink. These "interested" leaders have not been pursuing with full vigor what we are asked to believe are Obama's seriously anti-man-caused disaster policies.

These are the names of the dyed-in-the-wool American defenders present at the Security meeting: Homeland Security Secretary ("the system works") Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Secretary of State (let's reset our relationship with Russia) Hillary Rodham Clinton, Attorney General ("my former law firm represents Gitmo detainees") Eric Holder, CIA Director (don't bother frisking those double agents) Leon Panetta, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser ("the system is not broken") John O. Brennan.

It was a joke. But not a funny one.

One would think that Obama had a St. Paul experience of conversion. On his way to the beach in Kaneohe, perhaps, he was suddenly knocked out of his SUV by a vision of the 2010 elections (most of the voters not being enemy "extremists") and, when he came to, realized that he was "determined to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat" the networks of those who want to kill Americans at any cost.
I ordered two reviews. I directed Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to review aviation screening technology and procedures. She briefed me on her initial findings today. And I'm pleased that this review is drawing on the best science and technology, including the expertise of Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and his department.
Green energy security technology. Great.
I also directed my counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, John Brennan, to lead a thorough review into our terrorist watch listing system so we can fix what went wrong. As we discussed today, this ongoing review continues to reveal more about the human and systemic failures that almost cost nearly 300 lives. . . .
The bottom line is this: The U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas-Day attack, but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots, which would have placed the suspect on the no-fly list. In other words, this was not a failure to collect intelligence; it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had. The information was there. Agencies and analysts who needed it had access to it, and our professionals were trained to look for it and to bring it all together.
No doubt. But why then did the Obama administration and his Democrook Congress cut $25 million from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), thus affecting the "employees responsible for maintaining the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) system, which contains the list of about 550,000 known or suspected terrorists," including the Christmas bomber?
Now, I will accept that intelligence by its nature is imperfect, but it is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analyzed or fully leveraged. That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it.
Oh yeah? Then why, of the 300 analysts working at the National Counterterrorism Center, do "fewer than a dozen focus full-time on the Middle East"? From The Washington Independent:
According to NCTC veterans, the NCTC’s Middle East Branch consists of eight to nine analysts at any given time.
Those are the folks "responsible for integrating and analyzing millions of pieces of fragmentary data relevant to terrorism in the Middle East provided by partner intelligence agencies like the CIA and the National Security Agency." That means Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel and Palestinian territories, and Yemen. "Fewer than a dozen" analysts means "eight or nine." Read this, but not if you want to feel safe. From the Washington Independent:
Staffing the Middle East Branch with eight or nine full-time analysts is “a baffling management decision” said Steven Aftergood, an intelligence-policy analyst with the Federation of American Scientists. “Other than South Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, what is more important than the Middle East from a counterterrorism point of view? Where are the other several hundred [NCTC] analysts focused?”
Obama's post-Hawaii buff oratory:
Time and again, we've learned that quickly piecing together information and taking swift action is critical to staying one step ahead of a nimble adversary. So we have to do better, and we will do better. And we have to do it quickly. American lives are on the line.
So I made it clear today to my team, I want our initial reviews completed this week. I want specific recommendations for corrective actions to fix what went wrong. I want those reforms implemented immediately, so that this doesn't happen again and so we can prevent future attacks. And I know that every member of my team that I met with today understands the urgency of getting this right, and I appreciate that each of them took responsibility for the shortfalls within their own agencies.
To his credit, Obama did take credit for the new screening of millions of innocent Americans to avoid inconveniencing man-caused disasterers and clogging the no-fly list with more names that will slow detection down:
Immediately after the attack, I ordered concrete steps to protect the American people: new screening and security for all flights, domestic and international; more explosive-detection teams at airports; more air marshals on flights; and deepening cooperation with international partners.
In recent days, we've taken additional steps to improve security. Counterterrorism officials have reviewed and updated our terrorist watch list system, including adding more individuals to the no-fly list. And while our review has found that our watch-listing system is not broken, the failure to add Abdulmutallab to the no-fly list shows that this system needs to be strengthened.
And then, supposedly, someone will actually look at visas:
The State Department is now requiring embassies and consulates to include current visa information in their warning on individuals with terrorist or suspected terrorist connections.
None of the promises, of course, would even have been made if it were not for the outrage of Americans at being lectured by Janet Napolitano that the system worked fine, and the research of Americans pointing out the failures pointed out by Obama. He was the last to know, with the possible exception of Janet Napolitano.

Obama has also finally noticed that dead Americans murdered by ex-Gitmo detainees who have been sent back to Yemen will not be a political asset, at least not at the moment:
Given the unsettled situation, I've spoken to the attorney general. And we've agreed that we will not be transferring additional detainees back to Yemen at this time. [emphasis mine]
Interestingly, Obama seems to be owning up the fact that he is the attorney general's boss, an inconvenient fact that he has been ducking for quite a while.
But make no mistake. We will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al Qaeda. . . .
And as I've always said, we will do so -- we will close the prison in a manner that keeps the American people safe and secure.
Don't worry, Mr. President. We weren't thinking of making that mistake.

Hat tip: AJ Strata at The Strata-Sphere.  Graphic shamelessly lifted from Snarky Bastard at Feed Your ADHD (double click to read the fine print).

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