In my earlier post on the subject of John Brennan and his accusation in USA Today that critics of the White House “only serve the goals of al-Qaeda,” I neglected to mention that one of those entities that apparently have become a handmaiden to Osama bin Laden is … none other than USA Today. In an editorial that appears in parallel to Brennan’s op-ed, and was apparently written before the editors saw the contents of Brennan’s piece, the newspaper categorically rejects Brennan’s arguments on the Sunday talk shows that people should stop criticizing the performance of the government and start praising it unequivocally instead. Indeed, they scoff at Brennan’s argument as a demand for “cheerleading” and conclude that there isn’t much reason to have confidence in Barack Obama’s national-security team:
— CIA Director Leon Panetta and other top officials agreed last week that an attack by al-Qaeda is likely in the next three to six months. The warning is bound to frighten the public, with no obvious benefit beyond the ability to say “I told you so.”
— Top administration officials revealed last week that bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was again cooperating with authorities. Great. But the news pretty much negates earlier claims that no intelligence was lost when Abdulmutallab was prematurely read his rights.
— In Senate testimony, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair had a “Duh!” moment as he hit his forehead and acknowledged that authorities fumbled the initial questioning of Abdulmutallab by failing to call in the high-value interrogation group, which was created to question terrorism suspects. Refreshingly candid, yes, but not a statement that inspires confidence. Especially when the same day, at another Senate hearing, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified that the high-value unit was still in its “formation stages” and that “there was no time” to get it to Detroit.
All of this follows the string of blunders that allowed Abdulmutallab to carry explosives onto a U.S.- bound plane in the first place. The chaos that followed his arrest now looks just as bad.
The editorial concludes that the failure to stop Abdulmutallab before he got on the flight and the series of failures after he was captured have a common thread: “slipshod coordination leading to bad judgment.” Sitting on the sidelines and leading cheers won’t fix those failures. Comparing the people who point out the obvious, as USA Today’s editors do, to terrorist sympathizers doesn’t build any confidence that the White House has really acknowledged the failures at all, let alone start to fix them.
We only have one President at a time, and national security is almost completely under his bailiwick. Americans of all political stripes want the nation secured properly, ergo we all want this administration to adopt the policies that actually accomplish this to be implemented, and foolish policies that handicap our national security efforts to be jettisoned. Those policies were certainly on the table over the last several years for public debate, and this President and several high-ranking officials of his administration made them into political battlegrounds — as is the right and responsibility of Americans to do in holding their government accountable for its performance.
Maybe someone at USA Today can explain that to Brennan and Obama. Of course, now they’re on Brennan’s list of terrorist sympathizers, so perhaps it won’t do much good anyway.
Update: Jim Geraghty points out an interesting set of assumptions from the administration:
I see he refers to Abdulmutallab as a “suspect” but asserts that administration critics, ipso facto, “serve the goals of al-Qaeda.”
In other words, in the eyes of one the administration’s top men on counterterrorism, Abdulmutallab gets a presumption of innocence that you and I don’t.
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