By now we all know the story of the Nigerian Diaper bomber who nearly took the lives of some 300 passengers aboard a Northwest Airlines Flight coming into Detroit from Amsterdam on Christmas Day. The attack was thwarted due to his own incompetence along with the brave reactions of passengers aboard that fateful flight into MY local airport. Maybe it was pure luck that wouldn’t let the terrorist’s chemical reaction ignite, or maybe it was divine intervention from a much less imposing and less violent creator?? That we’ll never know.
What we do know is since then much talk has focused around discerning the failings of the TSA and assigning blame to everyone from George Bush to President Obama to Congress to Janet Napolitano to Europe to the ACLU, etc. That path seemed to lead finally and simply to; the entire System itself. President Obama used harsh language and passion decrying “systemic failures” that led to the obvious dots not being connected in letting Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab nearly take down an airliner over US soil on our most sacred of Holidays. Yesterday Obama gave another response speech, detailing his new intelligence overhauls in which he will “aggressively pursue” the use of 1 billion dollars worth of updated screening technology, as well as revamping the no-fly list using smarter criteria. He called the threat we are facing a “small band of men intent on killing innocent men.” Sounds like a coy rephrasing of “overseas contingency operations” or “man-caused disasters”, preposterous terms recently coined under his administration. Nevertheless most of his rhetoric was finally somewhat firm, and his ideas are smart, but they simply do not recognize exactly what we are facing.
With just over a week having passed, and with a decision to temporarily close the US Embassy in Yemen, our Intelligence authorities decided to hit the news cycle hard and formally answer all the questions Americans have been angrily pondering. Last Sunday featured many prominent securities advisers and decision makers from the current and past administrations. The featured man of the day was President Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, John Brennan. Other powerhouses that got into the mix were former Secretary of Homeland Security and Bush appointee Michael Chertoff, former CIA Director General Michael Hayden, and ranking GOP member on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Senator Susan Collins.
Aside from breaking down Obama and Napolitano’s immediate response to the terrorist attack (which was extremely slow and weak), a few tough questions were asked of these distinguished leaders. Unfortunately for us all, there were few concise and commonsensical answers given and I honestly believe we are coming to a crossroads in regards to American Security. Call it willful ignorance, Political Correctness, or the left’s version of American values, but we officially are no longer at war with…..Radical Islam.
On Sunday’s Meet the Press, David Gregory grilled John Brennan on a number of current national security issues. He answered swiftly and eloquently giving kudos to the work of the Bush Administration for creating an environment where Security Agencies can work collaboratively. He acknowledged that President Obama needs to hold everyone accountable, including him for current and future security failures. He also detailed his work with the Yemeni Government and reiterated the progress they have made since 9-11 to ultimately defeat Al-Qaeda. It was in discussing our future path to combat terrorism and the narrowness of that scope where I was really taken aback.
John Brennan has worked in intelligence for the past 5 administrations and claims that he is non-partisan. When asked, “. . . what needs to be done to make airline travel safer? “ He went into a litany of things to improve: technology, screening practices, intelligence, cooperation with our international partners, updated no-fly lists, etc. When asked about introducing full body scanners he said these must be part of the complete package to improve airline safety and that there is no silver bullet to connecting everything. When asked why the Diaper Bomber wasn’t considered an enemy combatant but instead as a civilian criminal, he cited the past terrorists we have tried in civilian courts and went to the “We are a nation of laws” line.
The discussion then moved on to Guantanamo Bay. When asked a question about releasing Gitmo prisoners to Yemen, of which they have released 7 this year, Brennan stated, “we’re going to do it in the right way, because Guantanamo should be closed. It was used as a propaganda tool by al-Qaeda, and the president is still committed to (closing) it.” When pressed further on the issue Brennan said, “. . .we are a country of laws and we maintain that standard so that we are able to treat these individuals the way they should be treated, prosecute them if we have the information available to us, transfer them back.” I thought this guy was supposed to be a non-partisan national security adviser to President Obama. It sounds to me like it may be the other way around.
Enter Michael Chertoff and General Hayden. Chertoff, former Bush appointee reveled on about the increased difficulty in smuggling explosives on airplanes, even though the same explosive substance smuggled on the Christmas Day flight was used by the shoe bomber. The shoe bomber’s PETN was what prompted all of us to take off our shoes in airport security lines. Nearly nine years later we’re still taking off our shoes but yet do not have a way to detect PETN. This was where the conversation took a turn to the absurd. David Gregory asked both Chertoff and General Hayden, “. . .are we effectively ethnically profiling potential suspects who want to hurt the United States?” After initially playing dumb, General Hayden said, “Right… But its more based on behavior. . . it wasn’t question of ethnicity or, or religion. Those, those are contributing factors.” Really? Not a question of ethnicity or religion? Chertoff’s response was even more ridiculous, “I think relying on, on preconceptions of stereotypes is, is actually kind of misleading and arguably dangerous.” He then had the audacity to say that the profile of “Islamic males between the age of 20 and 30” is wrong, and preferred to champion it as a simple behavior.
Susan Collins, GOP Senator from Maine was asked a similar question on CBS’ Face the Nation by Terry Moran. Although disingenuously posed, the question was pointed enough, “. . .is it time to profile passengers on the basis of religion or ethnicity? Or is that completely contrary to our ideals and our values as Americans? Her answer was as flippant as it was deflecting, “The problem with profiling is, if you take that approach, you’re going to miss the Richard Reids, who do not fit the profile.” Really Senator Collins, have we forgotten that Reid was a Muslim convert from a broken home in London? And so even though Reid looked and acted the part, we shouldn’t profile someone like him, but instead institute tougher security measures to everyone?
What we have here is a sad and concerted effort by our security officials to not recognize the dangers and real threats that we face. Not one of these “officials” uttered the words Radical Islam, and they uniformly deplored the idea of profiling at airports or anywhere else. Instead their scope is simply to combat al-Qaeda and its sparse population, while unmindfully overlooking the hundreds of millions of Islamists and Jihadists across the globe who either share or sympathize with the barbaric murderers’ plight. They would rather demonize the system and bureaucracy and agree with such irrational people as Ibrahim Hooper, the spokesperson for CAIR (The Council on American-Islamic Relations). He says that profiling is a victory for al-Qaeda. Huh?? These backward tactics are akin to focusing 100% of your efforts to treating a symptom of the flu, instead of diligently working for a vaccine, no matter how dangerous the symptoms are.
President Obama can give as many speeches as he wants saying there is real evil in the world, real threats and people who want to kill us, but if he or any of his cabinet or Congressional cohorts will not even acknowledge or name that threat, it does us no good. I used to think the lack of recognition was due to purely ideological differences, but now I can see that Political Correctness has permeated every level of elected and non-elected leadership in our country today. Until we can realize that Radical Islam is a global threat, home-grown and foreign terrorists sharing a similarly based religious ideology will continue to diminish the freedoms of citizens across the globe. I am supremely proud of my fellow Americans who have not lashed out at our Muslim friends, but I worry that American coexistence can only go so far. Facing real threats from irrational foes, common sense and rational minds can only allow you to take so much. It’s time for our elected leaders to share the same common sense that we all do, in an understanding that not all Muslims are terrorists, but nearly all terrorists are Muslim. As my favorite conservative thinker Dennis Prager said, “We have lived a civilization of lies due to political correctness.” It’s time for that to stop.