The system worked.
No, seriously, it did. At least that’s what the criminally inept director of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, says about the attempted terrorist attack aboard a Detroit-bound airplane on Christmas Day. The system worked, she said, because “everybody played an important role,” because “the passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action,” and because DHS and the TSA and presumably the FAA took “some special measures in light of what had occurred” within about an hour-and-a-half of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab attempting to blow up his own crotch and, with it, nearly 300 innocent men, women and children aboard a Northwest Airlines Airbus 330.
Should you be keeping score at home and awarding points for reaction, perhaps Napolitano was right. Everybody did play an important role. Back on Planet Earth, however, where we keep score by the amount of innocent people who either fall victim to a terrorist attack or do not, the most important role was played by the defective explosive device which shared space with Mutallab’s scrotum in the underpants of a radical Islamic jihadist who American officials were warned about, who was educated in the ways of terrorism by a well known terrorist, and who happened to reside nonetheless in the cabin of a pressurized airliner.
“So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly,” Napolitano said. Frankly, it seems that the director has forgotten that the process we care about most is the process of preventing terrorist attacks from reaching the “is that the smell of burnt testicular hair?” stage in the very first place.
The system did not work. If the system had worked, then a Nigerian Muslim student whose name appears on a U.S. law enforcement database because his own wealthy banker father alerted authorities to his son’s radicalization, who had been banned from the United Kingdom earlier this year, and who had ties to radical Islamic terrorists in Yemen–such a new hotbed of terrorist activity that even this detente-at-all-costs White House is floating the idea of preemptive action there–already under scrutiny for being associated with Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan would not have been able to procure his defective device from the aforementioned Yemeni terrorists and obtain a visa to travel to the United States of America.
No, what we saw here was the same thing we saw in advance of Nidal Malik Hasan’s terrorist attack on Fort Hood. Authorities had enough information. They knew he had a radical background. They knew he looked at America as the aggressor and heard him express a desire to kill Americans. At the end of the day, however, political correctness got the best of common sense and more than a dozen innocent Americans paid the price. The only difference between Nidal Malik Hasan’s attack and Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab’s attempted attack is that it is an FN Five.Seven pistol is far less likely to be defective than is a hastily made sweaty crotch bomb.
What makes all of this worse is that, in Janet Napolitano, we have the same miserable failure of a bureaucrat who back in the spring deemed conservatives and returning combat veterans the groups most threatening and worthy of increased DHS scrutiny. It’s time for amateur hour to end when it comes to the safety and security of innocent American citizens. Napolitano should have been put to pasture by the time most of America were carving turkeys on Christmas Day, if not months sooner. And it’s time for this administration to not-so-subtly reassess their ingrained attitude toward radical Islamic terrorism as a law enforcement operation. Andy McCarthy, over at National Review Online, has a great take on the systemic problem:
The people now in charge of our government believe Clinton-era counterterrorism was a successful model. They start from the premise that terrorism is a crime problem to be managed, not a war to be won. Overdone “war on drugs” rhetoric aside, we don’t try to “win” against (as in “defeat”) law-enforcement challenges. We expect them to happen from time to time and to contain, but never completely prevent, the damage.
Here, no thanks to the government, the plane was not destoyed, and we won’t get to the bottom of the larger conspiracy (enabling the likes of Napolitano to say there’s no indication of a larger plot — much less one launched by an international jihadist enterprise) because the guy got to lawyer up rather than be treated like a combatant and subjected to lengthy interrogation. But the terrorist will be convicted at trial (this “case” tees up like a slam-dunk), so the administration will put it in the books as a success … just like the Clinton folks did after the ’93 WTC bombers and the embassy bombers were convicted. In their minds, litigation success equals national security success.
Because the laissez faire approach to homeland security so popular among this administration’s officials is so systemic and rooted in ideology, however, it will be nearly impossible to excise. Regardless of whether Napolitano is added to the already crowded space under Barack Obama’s proverbial bus, the response from our federal government will be nearly the same as the response from its TSA and FAA — punish the passengers. In this case, the passengers are the American people, who will be forced to endure longer lines and delays as part of the manifestation of a worldview which will always be one step behind terrorists committed to their perverted cause.
Richard Reid tried to ignite his explosive shoes, so passengers are forced to take off their shoes now. A bunch of committed Islamic fundamentalists planned to use liquid explosives to bring down airliners, so iron-stomached new dads everywhere are drinking the contents of baby bottles to show that, yes, it really is baby formula. And now, because of Mutallab and his amazing flammable stones, what else can we expect? And if the next batch of wanna-be martyrs–and The Sun in Britain says that authorities are watching more than two dozen of them–decide to Barney Frank the next batch of explosive devices, how much longer will security lines become due to the time required by the same sort of procedures that American doctors used to do before the Democratic Party’s health care reform measures pushed prostate exams back until age seventy-five?
It never stops. Because the system will never work, until we become proactive and preemptive about it. Doing so will require the abandonment of the trappings of political correctness. Doing so will require an administration which understands that the threat to America posed by radical Islam far exceeds any other threat (outside of the Democratic Party, of course), and a Homeland Security director whose head is far removed from both the proverbial sand and their own posterior.
In the meantime, Janet Napolitano and the Obama administration need to get it right: It’s not that the system worked. It most certainly did not. It’s that the bomb didn’t.