Sunday, January 3, 2010

How Is Obama Doing On Terror Issues?

Not so great, according to this article, Barack Obama Is Vulnerable On Terror – And He Knows It; Barack Obama is playing politics over the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack and Republicans sense he is weak on the issue, writes Toby Harnden in Washington.

Oh, dear. As we know from recent experience, this is just a tad problematic:
In his weekly radio address yesterday, President Barack Obama patted himself on the back for having "refocused the fight - bringing to a responsible end the war in Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks".

He then told people to remember that "our adversaries are those who would attack our country, not our fellow Americans", before decrying "fear and cynicism" and "partisanship and division" - the code phrases for horrid Republicans used during his 2008 election campaign.

Complacency, faux moralising and partisan shots at Republicans. It was a neat summary of where Obama is going wrong after the Christmas Day debacle when the Nigerian knicker bomber managed to waltz onto a Detroit-bound flight.

For a man who campaigned denouncing the politicisation of national security under President George W Bush, it is worth noting how intensely political Obama's treatment of what might henceforth be known as Underpantsgate has been.

This is simply not a time to be making partisan attacks, Mr. President. Seriously. These kinds of attempts do not target one party over another, after all:
His White House recognised its political vulnerability more readily than it comprehended the level of danger faced by Americans.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's father had courageously contacted the American Embassy in Abuja in November and met the CIA station chief to tell him that his son was involved with fundamentalist elements in Yemen. American intelligence had also intercepted discussions in Yemen about a possible attack by "the Nigerian".

The Obama administration knew most, if not all, of this by last Sunday, 48 hours after the attack was thwarted. But the priority in Obamaland was to play things down and take pot shots at the Bush administration.

Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security chief – who prefers the term "man-caused disasters" to "terrorism" - blithely stated that there was "no indication that it is part of anything larger". She then insisted that the "system is working".

Although Napolitano has taken a lot of flak for these comic utterances, she was not "misspeaking" but trotting out the agreed talking points of the day.

No doubt Napolitano was saying what she was told to say, but by going along with this absurd talking point, she has discredited herself and her office. Maybe the truth would have been better. Just a thought, and it goes for Obama's main spokes-weasel, too:
Robert Gibbs, Obama's chief mouthpiece, also stated that "in many ways this system has worked" and would say nothing about a possible wider plot.

In Hawaii, where Obama was holidaying, Gibbs's deputy Bill Burton told the press that "we are winding down a war in Iraq that took our eye off of the terrorists that attacked us" and that Obama was reviewing "procedures that have been in place the last several years" (i.e. Bush instituted them). He added, without apparent irony, that "the President refuses to play politics with these issues".

Meanwhile, the White House was working overtime to build a case against Bush. A source in the White House counsel's office told The American Spectator of memos frantically seeking information that would "show that the Bush Administration had had far worse missteps than we ever could".

Republicans smell blood. There is a pattern in the Obama administration of dismissing Islamist terrorist attacks as regrettable random acts. In his radio address after Major Nidal Hassan's slaughtered 13 at Fort Hood, Texas, Obama made no mention of terrorism or militant Islam, instead blandly promising that the "ongoing investigation into this terrible tragedy" would "look at the motives of the alleged gunman".

The Obama Administration, as noted above, is discrediting itself by making these kinds of missteps, minimizing that these acts are not the least bit random:
Hassan was a committed Islamist who had corresponded with the fanatical Yemeni imam Anwar al-Awlaki. In June, Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, a Muslim convert being watched by the FBI and who had previously travelled to Yemen, murdered a US Army recruit in Arkansas. That rated only a tepid statement by Obama about a "senseless act of violence".

But the violence wasn't senseless, it had a calculated objective - just as Abdulmutallab was not, as Obama described him, an "isolated extremist". No wonder many Americans want to grab Obama by the lapels and scream: "It's the Jihad, stupid." Dick Cheney, the former vice-president, clearly struck a nerve when he charged last week that Obama was "trying to pretend we are not at war".

The White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer eagerly descended into the political fray, responding to Cheney with the obligatory jibe about Iraq and also a litany of examples of Obama's "public statements that explicitly state we are at war".

It's a sure sign that you're losing the argument when you have to research quotes from your boss's speeches to prove that he gets it that America is at war. The problem for Obama is that people are now judging him by his actions as well as his words.

The incompetence of the US intelligence bureaucracy is not the only thing that makes Underpantsgate so damaging for Obama. More serious is his failure to understand or acknowledge the nature of the enemy - and to view war as mere politics.

And it's about time, too, that Obama was judged by his actions. Many of us were calling for that very thing when he was running for office. Had people bothered to do that, they would have seen that there was no there there. And maybe, just maybe, we would have someone for more capable in office to deal with these not-at-all random attacks.

As it turns out, and I am sure this will not surprise any of you, Al Qaeda is working in a concerted effort to launch more attacks against us, according to the National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter, who said Al Qaeda is refining its methods to thwart American defenses, and launch another attack on our soil.

To be absolutely clear:
Leiter said in a statement Saturday that officials "know with absolute certainty" that Al Qaeda and others are trying to refine their methods.

The center is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It draws experts from the CIA, FBI, Pentagon and other agencies who try to ensure that clues about potential attacks are not missed.

Make no mistake, Mr. Leiter is saying it is not a matter of IF, it is a matter of WHEN.

That is disconcerting, to say the very least. And when we have a president who is playing partisan politics with issues of terrorism, it makes it even more so. At some point, Obama is going to have to admit that terrorism is most definitely real, not just some isolated, random attacks, but a concerted effort against our country and our citizens by a determined enemy. That point needs to be now for all of our safety.

Enough dawdling, hemming,hawing, and blaming of everyone else, Mr. Obama. It's all squarely on you. Maybe it's time to put down those golf clubs and get to work already. Don't you think?


commoncents said...

Thank you for posting this! I really like your blog!!!

Common Cents

ps. Link Exchange???

nazareth priest said...

Put down the golf clubs?
Owww! That's just nasty, Rev. Amy!
(Tongue in cheek, biting RATHER hard!).
Maybe the Great One should actually look at his flippin' job description and get with it (like tomorrow!).
Mamma mia!!
Great post!

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thanks, Nazareth Priest!

Remembre when we used to go off on Bush for how much HE played golf? Sheesh, that was nothing compared to Obama. He cannot possibly be bothered with doing the work of the nation what with all the snorkleling, movie-going, swimming, walking on the beach...Who cares if there's a terrorist attempt on a plane landing in America? He's gotta work on his handicap, for pete's sake!!

Mamma mia, indeed...

Thanks again, Nazareth Priest!

Mary Ellen said...


For some reason when I saw the title of your post I thought of the "How's My Driving?" stickers I see on the back of trucks and buses. So, on that note, I would compare Obama's "driving" on terror issues, to this.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Mary Ellen,


You are too damn funny!

Really, I have to wonder what in the world Obama hopes to gain by minimizing terrorism in the world. What is he getting from this? Because I can tell you what WE are getting, and that is the potential of more attacks, according to his own guy.

Holy smokes...