Archive for Friday, January 8, 2010

Obama: Anti-terror ‘buck’ stops with me

January 8, 2010


— President Barack Obama declared Thursday “the buck stops with me” for the nation’s security, taking responsibility for failures that led to the near-disastrous Christmas attack on a Detroit-bound airliner and vowing the problems would be corrected. He said the lapses were widespread but suggested no officials would be fired.

Obama didn’t tell intelligence officials to dramatically change what they’re doing. Instead, he told them to do it better, and faster. He left it to them to figure out how.

Clearly aware of the potential political fallout, Obama struck a tough tone toward the anti-terror fight, taking the rare step — for him — of calling it a “war.”

In one concrete change, the administration is adding more air marshals to flights. Hundreds of law enforcement officers from Homeland Security Department agencies are being trained and deployed to the federal Air Marshal Service, said a government official familiar with the strategy.

There are more than 4,000 federal air marshals, while about 29,000 domestic and international flights take place in the U.S. each day.

In the president’s bleak assessment and a White House-released report about what went wrong, the country got an alarming picture of a post-Sept. 11 debacle: an intelligence community that failed to understand what it had. U.S. intelligence officials had enough information to identify the suspect as an al-Qaida terrorist operative and keep him off a plane but still could not identify and disrupt the plot, and security measures didn’t catch him, either.

Obama announced about a dozen changes designed to fix that, including new terror watch list guidelines, wider and quicker distribution of intelligence reports, stronger analysis of those reports, international partnerships and an interagency effort to develop next-generation airport screening technologies.

More inquiries are on the way.

“It is appalling that we have not learned from our mistakes, eight years after the worst terror attacks in our nation’s history,” said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will hold its first hearing on the subject on Jan. 21, probably in private.

While Obama promised improved security, his solutions were laced with bureaucratic reshuffling.

Americans might be surprised that the government was not already taking some of the steps Obama ordered. For instance, he directed the intelligence community to begin assigning direct responsibility for following up leads on high-priority threats.

Obama himself hinted at the difficulties of improving intelligence and security against a terrorist network that devises new methods as fast or faster than the U.S. can come up with defenses.

“There is, of course, no foolproof solution,” he said. “We have to stay one step ahead of a nimble adversary.”


anon1958 8 years, 4 months ago

It really does not matter who is President or whether or not they are republican or democrat, it always has been and always will be easier to attack than to defend. We should of course do everything possible to defend ourselves but people need to accept that a defender is at a huge disadvantage and that no matter what, would be terrorists will eventually find a chink in the armor.

This is a realistic rather than fatalistic viewpoint and underscores that we not only need to defend ourselves from physical attacks, we also need a foreign policy that contributes to reducing the number of people that hate us.

Centerville 8 years, 4 months ago

I haven't wasted a lot of time watching Zippy give speeches, so tell me: what's with the bobble-head routine?

georgiahawk 8 years, 4 months ago

barry, in what world do you live in (meant for you to look around your world for assesment, I could care less about it) where America has been around for "thousands of years"? No comment about this because it needs none other than to point out its stupidity.

Maybe if we worked on the enemies that we have gathered since invading Iraq for no reason, it would help. I know that introspection is not popular with the righties, but if done, you might find that we have not always been on the side of right. I also know that you all see admission of such as a sign of weakness rather than strength (yes, admission of making a mistake shows you have the inner strength and integrity to examine your actions without imploding) but there is nothing wrong with honesty as a starting point for your future actions.

georgiahawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Tom, did I miss some news? Has anybody you listed been thrown under the bus or do I have a different idea of what that means?

georgiahawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Also Tom, are you saying that the "me" in your "thrown under the bus" statement is also going to be thrown under the bus by Obama? I thought that "me" was Obama! Are you saying that he is going to throw himself under the bus? Are you sure that you are repeating what Beck and Rush said exactly as it was said?

mr_right_wing 8 years, 4 months ago

Had Pearl Harbor happened on Obama's watch, the press release very well may have read:

"Today, a man-caused disaster occurred at our Naval Station in Pearl Harbor. While I regret the casualties and damage to equipment, I think, on balance, the system worked. In any event, I am launching an immediate investigation into how past American offenses may have instigated a justifiable response by the honorable nation of Japan, suspected of committing this alleged act. While the vast-right wing conspiracy led by Rush Limbaugh and Fox News are demanding a rash, militaristic response, I am convinced this is a time for diplomacy, not belligerent retaliation. If, in fact, some among these island people are culpable in criminal mischief, the American people should rest assured that they will be subject to our legal system, with respect for due process and their inalienable rights under our Constitution.

"There are some, like my predecessor in this office, who might say history will regard Dec. 7, 1941, as a date which will live in infamy. I'd prefer to regard this as a teaching moment. When I earlier discussed my reaction to my wife, Michelle, she said that for the second time in her adult life, she's really proud of her country."

I'd love to take credit for creating this, but it was written by Mike Rosen in the Denver Post.

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