I’ve been looking at how to best start off the New Year, and in light of the Christmas day bombing attempt, I decided on security. Particularly the self delusion we’ve been experiencing over the last year.
Let us begin in August, when Major Nidal Hassan murdered 13 soldiers at Ft. Hood. There was multiple efforts by the Administration as well as the media to portray this event as anything other than a terrorist attack. This was done despite the fact that Hassan was heard shouting “Allah Akbar”, or God is Great, during his attack- something almost always done by Islamic Suicide bombers. Despite the revelation that Hassan had had multiple communications with a radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, a cleric known to have ties and sympathies with al-Qaeda. This also happened in the face of the fact that Hassan had repeatedly showed sympathy with the Taliban and Iraqi insurgents, and was being investigated by the FBI.
What is most concerning is that even though these ties were known prior to the attack, nothing was done out of concern of political correctness. The Administration continues- as far as I know- to continue to deny this as a terrorist attack.
Now fast forward to Christmas Day when Umar Faruk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, attempts to detonate a two-stage chemical explosive hidden in his underpants. A failed detonator is the only thing that prevents an explosion and Abdulmutallab is tackled and subdued by fellow passengers on the aircraft. This event occurred in the face of the fact that Abdulmutallab purchased a one way ticket- with cash; his father contacts the US Embassy in Nigeria warning them of his concern that his son’s radical associations and beliefs; and that Abdulmutallab is on a terrorist watch list, but not the do-not-fly list.
The Administration told us everything worked, then backed out of that quickly considering the ludicrous nature of the statement, and after several days of silence, Obama came out demanding answers. He has since also confirmed the ties between Abdulmutallab and- you guessed it- Anwar al-Aulaqi. The Administration is calling this a terrorist event. I wonder if they’ll finally recognize the terrorist nature of Nidal now?
So, is this a change in the Administrations mindset vis a vis terrorism? One can only hope. 2010 was suppose to be the year of the Economy and Jobs- oh yeah, deficit reduction too (yeah right)- but the Administration has now stated that terrorism will be a major agenda issue for 2010.
I have stated previously about my concerns that this Administration is reverting back to a pre 9/11 mindset. It’s immediate call to close GITMO- without a plan or a recognition of what GITMO is and what it does. The Administrations decision to try some terrorists captured on the battlefield in Article III courts- something that has never been done before, setting a new precedent- while prosecuting other terrorists, captured under the same circumstances and conditions, in military courts. And the White House decision to remove interrogation of high level targets from the intelligence community and place it directly under the White House with a former FBI man in charge- removing the intelligence aspect of interrogation and replacing it with an investigation premise for prosecution. The Christmas day attack, even though it failed, seem to confirm the transition back to a law enforcement mindset and the re-establishment of a virtual wall between the law enforcement community and the intelligence community, as information was not passed between the two on Abdulmutallab.
While I still think this to be the case, and that this Administration is going backwards on terrorism, I find it interesting that international travelers who hold passports from 13 Muslim countries, plus Cuba, will be subject to much more stringent security procedures- pat downs, baggage searches, etc- than other travelers. There seems to have been a change of heart about profiling…