You've got to give credit where credit is due. Ever since the Christmas day attempt to bomb Detroit bound Northwest Flight 253, the GOP has been relentless on it's attacks of the Obama Administration for not taking terrorism seriously. The daily grandstanding of how the system didn't work has been deafening. Apparently they think that everyone get's their news from Fox so no one would ever find out that the reason there's no TSA chief is because Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has been holding up Erroll Southers nomination. DeMint's afraid Southers would allow TSA workers to join a labor union! DeMint has said the Christmas day attempt was a "perfect example of why the Obama administration should not unionize the TSA." Really? That's a perfect example? I'd love to hear him explain why. My experience has always been that well paid employees with job security will be more vigilant in their jobs. Southers has passed through two Senate committees, but the hold prevents his nomination from being subjected to a full Senate vote. DeMint's demands for testimony about unionization would mean at least three days of debate and test votes. Typical GOP, complain that the house is on fire, but make sure the water's turned off.
I thought this also might be of interest. ABC News reports that two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up the jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans. American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula called the would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab a "hero" and a "martyr" and lauded him for beating U.S. intelligence. Riiight, he beat U.S. intelligence, but got his ass whooped by a flight crew and some pissed off passengers. Definitely not a hero. Considering he started his underwear on fire, those promised virgins for martyrhood probably aren't going to be much good to him! One more thing: With all the fanfare and hand-wringing Republicans (and some conservative Democrats) have done about Obama allowing terror suspects to be tried in NYC, someone remind me; who was President in November 2007 when these guys were released? How are Dick and Liz Cheney going to spin this one? I'm sure they'll be making the Fox rounds all week!
Update: President Obama just spoke moments ago so I'll post a few key points he made: "It's essential that we diagnose the problems quickly." He noted that information about the Nigerian charged with trying to blow up a plane on Christmas was available in some databases, but was not shared properly across agencies. "Had this critical information been shared, it could have been compiled," and a fuller "picture of the subject would’ve emerged," "When our government has information on a known extremist, and that information is not acted on and shared, as it should have been … a systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that totally unacceptable."
I just want to say wow. While I still do not view this bombing attempt as a failure on the part of the Obama Administration since the system and its flaws were in place before his presidency, it's clear that he is in front of the situation and will not allow the status quo to be acceptable. Could his team have looked into this and improved it? Yes, hindsight is always 20/20. I was impressed with his no nonsense approach of accepting responsibility for errors while not inciting fear. Can you imagine Bush ever admitting mistakes on his watch or missing an opportunity to scare people about terrorists? I'm very happy Obama didn't do any chest thumping or flag waving to make his points. While I don't agree with some of the rumored remedies (full body scans), I've got to give him credit for being tough enough to admit there were oversights and they will be addressed immediately. A cool head and calmness will prevail for this guy. It's a nice change having a cerebral leader instead of a reactionary fanatic.