Be afraid, be very afraid

Written by Reg Henry on .

The underwear bomber is still very much in the news (in addition to being charged with conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, I believe he should also face a count of having a name too large to fit into newspaper headlines).

There are two ways to look at the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

1) If al-Qaida is so pathetic it has to send a nut ball armed with a Rube Goldberg underpants device to attack America, then we can all take heart.

2) We should all be very afraid because the Obama administration can't protect America.

Gosh, can you guess which scenario the Republicans are gleefully pushing? Yes, No. 2. Check out this morning's story, printed in the PG. from the Washington Post. They seem positively delighted that this happened.

Makes perfect sense. Just because your last campaign slogan was "Country First" doesn't mean you can't put Party First in making national security a point of partisan advantage.

To some extent it is fair. This happened on Obama's watch and some responsibility attaches to that. And it is true that Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, made herself ridiculous by initially saying that the system had worked. No, it hadn't. Little Nellie and her Dog knew that.

After she recanted that view, President Obama came out yesterday and plainly acknowledged a "mix of human and systemic failures." Indeed.

But, you know, the human failures occurred in the context of a system put in place during the Bush administration. The Director of National Intelligence was created after 911, as was the National Counterterrorism Center. They were set up to avoid the very thing that happened.

I get that Obama is now on watch and the buck stops with him but it seems to me that he hasn't done anything different than Bush would have done. Moreover, Bush's response was to invade a country (Iraq) that was not responsible for 9/11 while neglecting, after a sweeping initial success, the country (Afghanistan) that hosted the terrorists who hatched the plot.

Obama has decided, for good or ill, to step up the pressure in Afghanistan. In this, his approach on terrorism is more sensible than Bush's. But I don't blame Bush either. Clearly, the system needs to be changed or tweaked.

What offends me is making political hay out of this, as the Republicans are attempting to do. They really do think the American are a bunch of foolish, sniveling cowards. Shame on us if Umar Underpants returns us to the politics of fear.


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