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  • It Isn’t the System, Mr. President

    Yesterday’s address by President Obama on the Christmas Day plot was filled with lots of “well-duh” information that Americans already knew. The fact that the government failed to do its job isn’t much of a revelation. But the one message that was clearly communicated to the American public, in both yesterday’s speech and other White House press junkets, is that President Obama thinks the “system”—the one used to stop terrorists in the United States is flawed. Translation: the Bush Administration’s counterterrorism efforts didn’t work, aren’t we lucky that the Obama Administration is here to save the day and really fix things.

    Well let’s deconstruct that argument a little bit. If the system itself was flawed—why has U.S. law enforcement (at times working with other nations) prevented at least 26 terror plots since 9/11? (There have been at least 28 foiled, but 2 were the result of sheer luck) Why were we successful in stopping a very similar plot in 2006, where terrorists planned to use liquid explosives to blow up 10 planes at once? In that instance, U.K. authorities discovered valuable information, shared it with the U.S., and the U.S. made sure that necessary authorities knew about and stopped it.

    The reality is that the system itself isn’t broken. It is that folks inside the Executive Branch did not use the system appropriately. The legislation is there to allow intelligence and law enforcement folks to share information. The necessary organizational structure is there. We have a Director of National Intelligence, a National Counterterrorism Center, a CIA director, DHS Secretary, and a litany of other leaders tasked with the job of making sure the left hand talks to the right hand. The resources are there—Congress has never shied away from giving money for homeland security. Eight years of hard work has given us a system that if used the right way will in fact be successful at stopping terrorists from attacking Americans.

    What isn’t there is leadership. And that begins squarely at the White House. Stopping terrorist attacks requires senior leaders, including the President to take responsibility for the national security missions that are an integral part of running the country. It takes a mentality that looks to find solutions rather than excuses. And it requires initiatives that will trickle down to the intelligence analyst or law enforcement officer on the ground.

    Americans don’t care whether President Obama thinks the system worked or not. What they care about is what he is going to do to stop terrorists from killing Americans. Blaming Bush isn’t going to stop that from happening—its time Obama takes ownership.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    21 Responses to It Isn’t the System, Mr. President

    1. V MacFarlane, Tucson says:

      I find your information very slanted. Are you sure you're not Fox News? The "system" has been broken for a long time – regardless of presidents. My belief is that Bush did an amazing amount of damage and spending. I would not have wanted to be the president to inherit the mess. I do believe we should lift up whoever is in the presidency and give him our support as I'm sure you did when Bush was in office. I'm sick of seeing destructive information and fear mongering to sway the American people. As they used to say in the old days, "just the facts, man, just the facts." Let us decide whether it's moral, false, true, unethical, etc. I don't need your pointing finger or your destructive writing.

    2. Joe Kraft, Strykersv says:

      I agree with just about everything said there in the passage. Obama needs to stop playing the political blame-game, and start protecting the American people.

    3. Aaron says:

      When people give facts and it is apparent that someone dropped the ball people claim that it is directed and political just because they dont like it that it leads to someone they like. Facts are great, yes, but only if people will admit it when they are wrong and accept responsibility. No matter who is immediately at fault, the head of any organization is ultimatley at fault in the end and should act appropriately. It is never a proud or pleasing moment to admit that something or someone failed on your watch but it is still ultimately your responsibility.

    4. Steve, San Diego says:

      So the basic facts are:

      1. Immediately after 9/11, Pres. Bush instituted a 'security overhaul'.

      2. No successful terrorist attacks during Pres. Bush's tenure after 9/11.

      3. 26 (28) terrorist attacks prevented during that time.

      4. On 20 Jan. 2009, new leadership took over the reins of a system that had worked (well or poorly depending on your politics) since initiated.

      5. A solo extremist kills a soldier and wounds another in Little Rock Arkansas in June 2009.

      6. Major Nidal Hasan kills 12 soldiers and wounds 31 others in November 2009 (determined to be a distraught muslim).

      7. An extremist (luckily) fails in his attempt to detonate a bomb on board an airliner carrying nearly 300 people.

      The question is this:

      When did the system become broken?

    5. Deborah D., Southpor says:

      The facts were given. Then they did an amazing thing…they extrapolated the change from Bush's term to Obama's, and that change is the disinterest in terrorism in the Obama administration. Therefore, they deduced where the problem logically lies (as I'm sure most Americans themselves deduced.)

    6. C. Beeler, Phoenix, says:

      I don't know waht you've been smoking in Tucson

      but you better get your head out of the clouds!!

      All Obama does is get on the news and state the

      obvious, which we have known since Christmas.I

      would like to know why Napolitano has not been

      fired!! We in Arizona know how she does not do well under pressure. When we had the gas pipeline problem she told everybody to walk

      to work in 115 degree weather and then after she

      got fried for it she had to backtrack. Almost

      300 people almost lost their lives this time due

      to her incompetence.She managed to get the state

      treasurer on the no fly list because he told her

      that her budget would not work. He is probably

      still on it but the terrorists in the middle

      east are not.We need to investigate how homeland

      security is spending their money. It is not on

      fighting real terrorists!

    7. D Vescio says:

      V MacFarlane, I think this article was not intended for what you may have interpreted it to be. You feel this is slanted, I think that might be a little bias on your part coming through. It presents facts, like you said you wanted. Anytime an article that presents an alternative light on situations, liberal people get defensive and point in other directions. I'm not saying that's what you have done, but look what you said. You revert back to Obama inheriting the mess from Bush. Sure it's no lie that there were mistakes made by the last administration. But that particular administration owns up to their mistakes. Certainly exponentially increasing the deficit will not made anything better. Instead of getting defensive and pointing fingers, take articles like this and try and use them to become better informed.

    8. K Howes, Chicago, IL says:

      There is nothing "destructive" about the article. It's an OPINION article, and what V MacFarlane objects to is supposedly that it isn't straight news reporting. But I'm sure that he or she loves it when Keith Olbermann or someone of that ilk is trumpeting left-wing opinions.

      The new fascism, for all its yammering about dissent being "the highest form of patriotism" when it was in the opposition, can tolerate no dissent. This well-reasoned article is "destructive"–but I'm sure V MacFarlane had no problem with people shrieking "Bush lied, kids died."

    9. P Roberts, Vancouver says:

      @ V MacFarlane:

      Really? Wow… The facts were all over. As Obama's genius Secretary of Defense said, "The system worked?" Uhh… no it didn't. The TERRORIST, but Obama thinks differently because he is an idiot, succeeded, but the device malfunctioned (Luckily). Man are you stupid. And for that matter, Obama needs to quit whining and own up to it and needs to quit blaming the "Former Administration" aka Bush, or whatever you would call it. SUCK IT UP and take responsibility for it and own up to it. You knew what you what came with the job as president. If you can't take the heat, then resign. It's funny to see how long it took for him to get on the TV for this incident, compared to passing the health care legislation. But I guess my priorities would be out of order if I was Obama too. But then the left will complain about it anyway, because we're being racist or some crap like that. Need I say more. OBAMA, THIS IS YOUR FIRST AND ONLY TERM. And for the Liberals in the House and Senate, you're first to go. No more controlling the U.S. citizens and trying to take away every ounce of freedom that we have in this country. That's what is happening, or I guess I must be mistaken. Mark my words…

    10. D McLane, Bayville, says:

      What I find remarkable is the lack of focus on the VISA adjudication process. It is amazing to me how the administration trotted out Napolitano with her "the system worked" line to take the political hit for the whole government. It is my understanding that VISAs are awarded by the State Department. This to me looks more and more like a State Department error, since it was the Nigerian Embassy that was contacted with the tip about this guy. Largely, VISA adjudications are a back office function of the US State Department, and maybe an "important person" like Secretary of State Clinton cannot be bothered with actually managing and running her agency, but shouldn't Mrs. Clinton be held accountable on some level for this situation. I find it ironic that President Obama is reportedly excoriating security personnel "behind closed doors" but not a peep about the State Department. This appears to be political management at its worse. Janet Napolitano may indeed be ill equipped to handle Homeland Security, but some focus needs to be placed upon a) the way in which the "underwear bomber" obtained a VISA to enter the US, and b) how information communicated to a US Embassy failed to reach key decision makers.

      To me, it appears as if the Administration wants to sacrifice Napolitano to protect Hillary Clinton and State. Hillary Clinton is a much more meaningful and important player in Democratic politics and a "Clinton blunder" is more politically significant than a "Napolitano Blunder." Or the faiure of "Bush's system." Secondly, I believe that Obama's emphasis upon "talking" to other countries may lend an ideological predisposition to protect State and to attack the national security and law enforcement communities, which are less ideologically and politically important to him.

    11. Sharon Holmes, Cordo says:

      All good valid points. Yes, I agree with you that the system does work, its who is in the White House is the one and those who share the responsibility with him are the ones who causing the system not to work.

    12. K. Jones Illinois says:

      Folks its ok for the left to critisize the right when they make a mistake but the right isn't suppose to critisize them its not politically correct. Lets take the war they say Bush lied, well if I remember everyone was in favor of the war after 9/11 and voted to go to war, (fact) How much time did we give the enemy to remove those weapons of mass distruction? HMMMM Now on the aircraft carrier he said Mission Accomplished, where did Bush lie, he said the mission was to remove Saddam from power, so mission was accomplished, then he said we would have a long fight against terror where did he lie??? Now Katrina this is a good one you still hear, where did Bush fail, the Democratically controlled local government is the first to react to that kind of disaster, then the Democractically controlled state government is to step in and then the federal government is last to steo in, which the federal government did offer help before the dike broke, where did Bush fail? but he manned up and took the blame. (fact) Those of you on the left who blame Bush well lets see the last two years of the Bush administration who was in control of the house and senate,hmmmm Democrats where was Obama?hmmm Who wrote the bills and passed them hmmmm the tarp bill who wrote it and forced Bush to pass it to keep a catrastrophe from happening.hmmmm These are facts.. Who made the mess Obama says he need to keep making worse?? The Liberals, Who in about every state that is going broke are in control of those states…. The Democrat's are..but its ok we can just blame Bush for all this mess that they just keep making.

    13. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      J. McNeill is absolutely correct. What is missing is effective war time leadership by the executive branch. That's right, it's a WAR against a "jihadism" bent on causing total mayhem and murder, AKA terrorism. Having a national identity or not, our fight is against an organized foreign based ideology that seeks the destruction of the western world, mainly the United States and its trusted regional ally Israel.

    14. Barb, OH says:

      Jena McNeill is absolutely right. We are at war with terrorist and we need a President that comprehends this fact! Does he know his number one job is to defend and protect America?

    15. Spiritof76 says:

      Hey Tuscon,

      Stop whining. The current score is: US:0; Terrorists:3. It occurred under Obama. The guy said with messianic confidence that he would correct everything that was wrong under Bush. He apologized to the world; he bowed to every tyrant, past and present; he held in high esteem the Islamic Republic of Iran while kicking all of our allies everywhere, particularly Israel; he couldn't wait to close the Gitmo facility because "it was giving us a bad name"; he gave Constitutional rights to 9/11 planners and killers by bringing them into NYC for show trials. Now he says that there were intelligence screw ups while at the same time going after the past CIA agents for their alleged roles in extracting information from the terrorists. He can not bring himself to call those Islamic extremists as terrorists. Under his role as the Commander in Chief, three Navy Seals are being charged for giving the most vilest of the terrorist bloody lip. The terrorist was captured by the three brave individuals but was not shot right on the spot. That terrorist was responsible for killing, mutilating and hanging the corpse of four US contract workers in Iraq.

      Give me a good reason to support Obama. The next time I try to board an airplane, they will search me until I am naked. They will do the same on countless number of ordinary pssengers but they will let go an Islamic extremist directly from a camp in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Somalia. An Israeli security officer once commented when asked about the US airline security, " they are bothering people, not much else". How many more lives must be lost so that we can be judged good people by all the worthless dictators of the world. I say no more.

      We must clean house in 2010. We must provide one-way tickets to those that can not accept our way of life guided by the US Constitution-limited government, maximum individual freedom and private property rights. Because, we are not changing. We chersih our founding principles. Our heroes are Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Adams. I am not ashamed of our past. I am proud of it. I am willing to lay my life down for it. As a matter of fact, our service people in the military do it everyday.

    16. mike, jacksonville says:

      For MacFarlane of AZ: If an experienced General, say,,,in the Mideast, requests X number of troops to be successful, and the CIC dittles around for months before deciding on sending Y amount of troops with stupid political considerations, what makes you think Obama was listening or contributing anything worthwhile to numerous intelligence briefings? He is clueless and worthless without a teleprompter.

      The cristmas attack highlights how terrorists will eventually succeed as they are forever probing for weak points in the security system. A security system that is overly beauracratic and cumbersome, not to mention detached and dependant on numerous intelligence agencies for terrorist alerts and identification of the bad guys. The administration reacted as all inexperienced, moronic govt types do by instituting idiotic procedures that will do no good whatsoever but it appears as if they are doing something. Even if they do manage to identify the weak links, they will still be unable to make the security system nimble and proactive enough to deter future attempts.

      If you don't believe that,,,remember that it took TSA until Sep 08 to figure out that they should ban remote controls (for models) on carry-on luggage.

    17. P. Ficarra. Harrisbu says:

      This article is spot on and exposes the malfunctioning policies and mindset of the Obama administration regarding the now defunct War on Terror.

      After 9/11, I don't recall Bush blaming Bill Clinton. Afterall, those terror cells had been embedded in the US for years prior to Bush's inauguration. Some of the hijackers were actually on expired student visas too if memory serves correctly. But let's put that aside because the important thing that Bush did was not finger point but made sure he identified the threat and took the necessary steps to keep the country safe. Obama would do well to assume the same approach moving forward. We need leadership and action now more than ever. To me the President's comments about the system failing is tantamount to a carpenter blaming his tool. Who is running this show anyway…..I thought it was the President.

    18. Dee Marana, AZ says:

      Wow! The news did not even mention Hillary and the fact that the State Department hands out the VISAs, even though I knew this — I was overcome, like most of the public, with "the throw Janet under the bus to get the heat off Hillary." My excuse is I live in ex-governor Janet's state and am experiencing the beginning of the damage Janet has done to Arizona and which Arizonans will be paying for until sometime in 2014, if the economists are correct.

      It must have come as a shock to Janet to be thrown to the dogs like this. I know she never saw it coming or she would not have agreed to make that clearly false statement — no lawyer with any brains would have allowed themselves to be so exposed to public ridicule, like she did, when she went on national television and told the American public that whopper of a lie.

      Thank you so much for reminding us that Hillary's team let the American people down and that her political position must be protected at all costs. Where as Janet, virtually unknown in D.C. has just killed her future political aspirations. She should be well aware of her propensity to fall apart in crisis situations, and rather than thinking that those representing Obama were there to protect her, she should have found a mentor outside of the Obama "family of thugs," the moment she set foot in D.C. She needed someone who would give her honest advice. Then, she should have sought this person's advice before agreeing to make a statement that has caused her to become a political pariah.

      We needed to be reminded that the buck stopped with Hillary's team, not Janet's. It seems both are at fault, Janet to a lesser degree than Hillary. But of course Obama will hear none of that as both women spout his rhetoric almost verbatim, like ventriloquist dummies.

    19. Andrea, California says:

      It's funny that you think the Bush Administration was successful since it "prevented 26 terror plots." It was in the Bush Administration that 9/11 occurred–the worst terrorist plot to hit American land. That wasn't success, that was failure. And the Bush Administration's system continues to fail us, continues to haunt us. You're denying a key flaw, which seriously undermines your argument.

    20. Snark, Detroit says:

      The system worked perfectly. Now, the administration is well on the way to controlling all the airlines, and has another reason to impose more taxes.

    21. Pingback: The War Must Be Obama’s Top Priority | FrumForum

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