The third terrorist attack attempt on US soil in six months linked to radical Islamist terrorist networks shows that the system isn’t working properly, Senator Joe Lieberman told Fox News today. The chair of the Homeland Security Committee said that the goal of counterterrorism efforts has to be prevention of attacks, and the Times Square bomber clearly wasn’t prevented by anything except his own incompetence:
Sen. Joe Lieberman said Sunday that “the system failed” in the lead-up to the attempted Times Square bombing, despite the successful arrest of suspect Faisal Shahzad last week.
Lieberman, chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, called the attempted attack a “break through our defenses,” comparing it to the Fort Hood shooting last year and the failed Christmas Day airline attack.
“We were lucky. We did not prevent the attempted attack,” Lieberman, I-Conn., told “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s hard to stop them every time, but that has to be our goal. … So I’d say in terms of prevention, the system failed.”
There are two separate areas of security in this issue. Law enforcement did its job, and did it well. The NYPD expertly defused the bomb and the FBI tracked down Faisal Shahzad in 53 hours. As deputy FBI director John Pistole said at the press conference, that’s a pretty good number. Except for the major fumble at the end, when Shahzad was allowed to get on an Emirates Air flight and almost take off, law enforcement did a good job.
However, our counterterrorist resources have now had three plots leak through to fruition in the last six months. Nidal Hasan murdered 14 people in a shooting spree at Fort Hood long after he began communications with Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda recruiter who was also behind the underwear-bomber plot on the Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Only the incompetence of the bomber kept hundreds of people from dying in mid-air that day, just as the only hurdle standing behind Shahzad and potentially thousands of victims in Times Square was a faulty bomb design.
What does the Obama administration have to say? They’re saying that the system worked:
But White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan defended the intelligence community’s track record in the face of an onslaught of threats and plots.
“We’re not lucky. We’re good,” he told “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve stopped many, many operations, terrorist plots, from taking place here in the United States and overseas. On a daily basis, we are being successful at finding them, arresting them, killing them.”
Perhaps, but “we’re good” didn’t stop the bombs from going off on Northwest 253 and in Times Square; that was sheer luck. Lately, though, they seem to be a lot less successful than in the previous eight years since airline passengers caught Richard Reid attempting to light his shoes. Lieberman would like to know why, but the Obama White House is stonewalling his subpoenas on the Fort Hood shooting. Lieberman may take Obama to court to get some answers:
Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and ranking Republican Susan Collins (Maine) on Thursday said they are poised to press their subpoena fight with the Obama administration into court.
Lieberman and Collins, speaking separately, both said the Justice and Defense departments have been uncooperative with their efforts to obtain more information about the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed 13 people.
Both senators stopped short of saying they’ve made a final decision, but made it clear they are probably headed toward a court confrontation with administration lawyers based on doubt that the final round of negotiations would bring success.
“If they won’t respond, I think we have an obligation. It’s not easy to enforce a subpoena against the executive branch, but I’m going to make the fight,” Lieberman said.
Maybe the White House can get a court to grant them the “we’re good” waiver for Congressional subpoenas.
Update: Ian Schwartz has the video at Real Clear Politics.