Yesterday, President Barack Obama addressed the nation on the findings behind the Christmas Day attempted attack on the US by Al Qaeda. A couple of facts still astound. First that eight years after Richard Reid used PETN, a powerful explosive, in an attempt to down a plane, we are still unable to detect PETN being concealed in the clothing of would be terrorists. While Obama indicated we would step up our efforts to detect this explosive, isn’t that too little, too late? How is it possible that we allowed eight years to pass without closing this known vulnerability?
The other astonishing element just came to light recently and was not addressed by the President. Apparently, we did not know Abdulmutallab had a visa because his name was misspelled by a State Department data entry clerk. In an age where Google can do a “fuzzy search” and even suggest alternatives to you when it thinks you’ve misspelled a search word, how can our security infrastructure be so limited?
However, the more important part of the President’s speech concerned tone, not facts. In what may or may not have been a direct response to the rabid ravings of former Vice President Dick Cheney, the President said (interjections added by me):
Here at home, we will strengthen our defenses, but we will not succumb to a siege mentality [DICK] that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans, because great and proud nations don’t hunker down and hide behind walls of suspicion and mistrust [DICK]. That is exactly what our adversaries want. And so long as I am president, we will never hand them that victory.
We will define the character of our country, not some band of small men intent on killing innocent men, women and children [DICK].
And in this cause, every one of us — every American, every elected official — can do our part. Instead of giving in to cynicism and division, let’s move forward with the confidence and optimism and unity that defines us as a people, for now is not a time for partisanship, it’s a time for citizenship [DICK], a time to come together and work together with the seriousness of purpose that our national security demands.
That’s what it means to be strong in the face of violent extremism [DICK]. That’s how we will prevail in this fight. And that’s how we will protect our country and pass it, safer and stronger, to the next generation.
Perhaps my memory fails me but in the wake of 9/11 all I remember is a lengthy report being issued. Granted Bush declared with empathy from a bullhorn “we hear you” but he never addressed the nation about our culpability in 9/11. I’m not talking about any climate that we may have created to make parts of the world hate us. There is no justification for the horrible acts of that day. I’m talking about our security failures in protecting the country. Wouldn’t it have been refreshing to see Bush say:
This terrible attack on America could have been averted with better security. At the very least, we should have taken more seriously a memo entitled “Osama bin Laden to attack America”. I feel a grave responsibility for this massive loss of life and I pledge to you, the American people, that we will do better.
Of course, that speech was never made. Bush was always hard pressed to find fault with any of his policies or lack thereof. He can now rely on the revisionist history being offered by the likes of brain-dead twit Dana Perino who talks about how “we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.”
Well fortunately folks there is a new sheriff in town, an adult who talks to us like adults and who takes responsibility when we mess up.