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Jewish World Review
Jan. 1, 2010 / 15 Teves 5770
Whose Fault Is It?
It may not be President Obama's fault that our multibillion-dollar
Homeland Security apparatus is more Keystone Kops than "24," anymore
than it was President Bush's fault that city, state, and federal
agencies failed to respond adequately to Hurricane Katrina. The federal
government is (alas) a vast ungovernable enterprise. And the bigger it
gets, the less effective it will become.
Still, the entire Democratic Party led by Nancy Pelosi, Hillary
Clinton, and Harry Reid swarmed over President Bush like piranhas as
the waters rose in 2005. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" entered
the lexicon as one of the most ridiculed commendations in history.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's declaration that "the
system worked" after every relevant Homeland Security agency drunkenly
nodded cash-paying, one-way-ticket-purchasing, Yemen-visiting,
no-baggage-carrying, father-warning Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab onto
Flight 253 deserves, but will not receive, at least as much scorn. In
2005, Democrats expressed outrage that it had taken Bush two days to cut
short his Texas vacation. "He has to get off his mountain bike and back
to work," declared then Rep. Rahm Emanuel. Somehow, if a Republican were
to voice the identical sentiment now, demanding that "Obama has to get
off his surfboard and back to work," the establishment would declare it
a grievous breach of civility and possibly racist to boot.
I hope no Republican makes such a suggestion, though, because it
contributes to the childish idea that the president must govern the
nation at all times from the White House deploying Marines,
structural engineers, tax assessors, and derivatives analysts as
required. Ridiculous. Any emergency orders a president must issue can be
issued from Texas or Hawaii or the space shuttle for that matter.
President Obama is not wholly responsible for the pathetic incompetence
of the security agencies. But their "catastrophic" (his word) failure to
perform the minimum functions assigned to them should give him pause.
More than most Americans, even more than most Democrats, the president
is in thrall to the illusion of a skilled, paternalistic government,
able to handle the fortunes of car companies, the proper running of
banks and insurance companies, the more equitable and cost-effective
delivery of health care, and the exact calibration of the world's
climate. Could the new New Deal just get airplane safety right first?
Leaving aside the failings of the CIA, the Department of State, and the
Department of Homeland Security, some of this is entirely President
Obama's fault. He has guaranteed that we will get far less intelligence
from this terrorist than we would have under the Bush administration.
Because the highly successful Clinton law enforcement model has been
reintroduced to the war on terror, no sooner was the fire in
Abdulmutallab's pants out than he was read his Miranda rights and
provided with a taxpayer-financed public defender.
Under the terrible ancien regime, when the world hated us, and the
terrorists were inspired to attack us because Guantanamo was not listed
in Fodor's Guide (except, gosh, they seem not to have gotten the memo
because they persist in attacking), Abdulmutallab would have been
hustled down to Guantanamo to be interrogated. Yes, interrogated. Not
tortured. Not waterboarded (that happened to only three detainees) but
interrogated about his contacts, his experiences in Yemen, his
explosives training, and so forth. If he wanted better treatment
dessert, videos, music he could purchase these with cooperation.
Not now. His lawyer, Miriam Siefer (who has represented terrorists
before), will advise him to stay silent. We will learn nothing of other
plots Abdulmutallab might have provided leads to, and nothing of the
whereabouts of his supposed mentor, American-born Yemen resident Anwar
al-Awlaki the imam who also incited the Fort Hood killer, had contact
with two of the Sept. 11 terrorists, and who has been described by
Al-Arabiya as "the bin Laden of the Internet."
Speaking of Yemen, in the mad scramble to close Guantanamo by Obama's
self-imposed deadline, just this month the administration released six
detainees to … Yemen, with the promise of 34 more to come. Well,
didn't the Bush administration release two Yemenis to Saudi Arabia who
later moved to Yemen and continued jihad? Answer: Yes. Here's another
question: Why didn't the Obama administration study that failure?
And here's one more question: How does an over-grand, overreaching would-be messiah
learn the humility to at least put first things first?
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