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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What The CIA Didn't Find in Africa.

Just because Republicans helped lead the ban on better technology and opposed airport security spending doesn’t mean they’ll stop Cheneying the Democrats for subverting national security. - Maureen Dowd, NY Times, 12/29/09

There are so many lessons to be learned, so much information to digest, so much that needs to be said about the failed destruction of Fight 253 that one's mind is almost paralyzed with the facts. But one must start somewhere if one is to be heard so let me just say right here and now, Dick Cheney, go fuck yourself. Shut the fuck up, go back to your spider hole, clutch your .45 ACP, dress it with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt on it and then eat it because you, you bloated miscreant, are more responsible for this mess than most people know.

What am I talking about? Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) is one of those rare Democrats who's taking point in this or any matter while the rest of the wet-legged Democrat Party are content to let the GOP vent (i.e. to, once again, frame, define and control the debate). This is what Massa had to say on the matter:
I would remind the American public that the apparent leaders of the al Qaeda cell in Yemen were 2 terrorists who were released by Vice President Cheney in secret. I think there's a level of accountability that has to be levied personally on the vice president. He is personally responsible for that.

If true, this would be pretty explosive stuff (no pun intended), no matter who's currently in the White House (or Hawaii). Yet, does it really matter on whose watch these men were released while the turnkeys blithely whistled and looked the other way? Looking to the past is what Republicans do whether they're moderates or neocons. Politicians pointing fingers will get us nowhere and will not make us safer. The people who ought to be pointing fingers are intelligence operatives, TSA officials and airline security people provided they point to the right people.

Now, thanks to this Nigerian Abdulmutallab, according to Dowd, we're looking at the prospect of showing up at the airport in hospital johnnies, with the open back ends flapping in the breeze (maybe now, though, the TSA will finally take away our 4 books of matches and two Bic lighters since we can't smoke or ignite our shoes on airliners, anymore).

But at least in the interests of credibility, the Democrats could at least take Massa's and DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen's lead and defend our President, to remind the American people that there was an eight year-long administration that ended less than a year ago, an administration that kept us vulnerable up until 9/11 and kept us more vulnerable still for over 7 years after 9/11, an administration that was so fixated on Iraq and vacations that it literally brushed aside like so many mosquitoes those nattering voices from our intelligence community or that of foreign governments that tried warning us of the impending threat.

It's already been said by cooler heads than Peter Hoekstra and Dick Cheney that the President did the right thing by waiting 72 hours to comment on the Flight 253 clusterfuck. President Obama wasn't merely being coy but was, instead, conscious that a rapid response would elevate the wouldbe terrorist's status. He was also still gathering information that, if his assertions are correct, the intelligence community should've gotten to him months ago and not days after the incident. This may be one time in which the White House actually can lay the blame for this latest SNAFU at Langley's doorstep.

Yet, like Dowd and John Aravosis have said, it just didn't look good that Obama went back to playing golf and to resurrect Fahrenheit 9/11 memories of Bush saying, "Now watch this drive..." after inveighing against terrorism. It also didn't look good when Obama blindly defended DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano's assertion that the system worked.

No, Madam Secretary, someone in our government fucked up. We can't blame the Dutch for all this. Let's take stock of the facts: Abdulmutallab's father, a Nigerian banker, went to the US embassy and warned us his son had been radicalized. The kid finds himself on a terrorist watch list but on a low priority and somehow escaped being put on a No Fly Watch list on which James Moore and Ted Kennedy had found themselves. He then pays for his ticket with $3000 in cash and doesn't check any baggage.

By Christmas Day while Bill O'Reilly was busy stalking elementary school principals or manger displays or whatever else is at war with Christmas, a real war reared its ugly head again. And everyone from the President of the United States on down is wondering how the largest, most sophisticated and well-funded intelligence machine in the world couldn't simply put the dots together.

The president isn't being detached like Bush was during Katrina. He's playing it smart, playing catchup like the rest of us. Things are humming along in Hawaii so quietly that it would be easy to think of Obama as doing nothing but playing golf. No, the President is being smart.

Still, he could've handled it better. Smart is not always what's called for.

Yet, to hear the GOP talk, Democrats have been in charge the whole time, as if Obama took over from Slick Willie with no bloodily incompetent eight year interregnum in between, as if the Democratic Party has had a generation or more to get a grip on al Qaeda (and even if that was the case, what does that say about the GOP?). But there was an eight year-long period of unparalleled brutality toward the innocent with hardly a dent made in al Qaeda's infrastructure, a period presided over by a so-called President who waited twice as much time to comment on Richard Reid than Obama did on Flight 253.

It was an administration that didn't seem to be at all concerned about al Qaeda's mastermind bin Laden barely six months after the attacks, an administration that so completely fucked up national security, the very launch pad Republicans are using now to attack our president, that the annual State Dept's terrorism report contained so much bad news it was then redacted for Congress and no longer released to the American public.

So the Republican Party, starting with Dick Cheney, can all go fuck themselves. How dare they? Yes, Janet Napolitano spoke out of turn and championed a system that plainly failed and would've literally crashed and burned were it not for a Dutch filmmaker. But what is that in comparison to a plainly clueless Michael Chertoff who didn't even know that thousands were cooped up inside the New Orleans Superdome and Convention Center for five days? No one died on Flight 253 and the president was kept in the dark. 1800 perished on the Gulf Coast while the Bush administration sat on the facts.

Could President Obama have handled the Flight 253 debacle differently? Sure, but he loses nothing more serious than style points. The GOP is resorting to 2002, 2003 and 2004 fear-mongering because they sense a political opportunity, to wean away an American majority they legitimately and understandably lost on a (snort) national security platform.
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