The United States will never be secure from terrorist attack so long as its leaders insist on giving important security posts to political cronies and letting them retain the office regardless of their suitability. Janet Napolitano’s appointment to the cabinet post of United States Secretary of Homeland Security in January 2009 is a case in point.
As Secretary of Homeland Security, Napolitano is responsible for the Coast Guard, Federal Protective Service, Border Patrol, Secret Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Hers is the central post in her country’s defence against attack from terrorists.
Given that the United States had a population of over 300 million, I would have thought President Obama could have found someone more suitable for the job. Under Napolitano’s watch, a terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, attempted to attack the US by blowing up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 approaching Detroit, Michigan on Christmas Day 2009.
Only blind luck and the courage of passengers on board the plane averted a disaster. Yet, according to Napolitano, “the system worked.” Yes, that is what she said in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley. Her full statement was:
“What we are focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel. And one thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated.”
Sure everything turned out OK once the attack was underway. But what about before the terrorist even got on the airplane. Has she no responsibility for that?
All the clues were there. The man was known to US authorities, his own father, a prominent Nigerian banker, had issued a warning about his son’s intentions, the terrorist’s name was on one of the many “watch lists” and yet he still slipped through and onto the plane. A Dutch investigation has found that all security checks were correctly carried out in Amsterdam and that American authorities had cleared the passenger list.
President Obama apparently believes there was a “systemic failure” of his nation’s intelligence gathering and analysis that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board the flight to Detroit on Christmas Day and attempt to blow up the airliner.
I have had grave concern about Napolitano since she first demonstrated her ignorance by pronouncing incorrectly in April 2009 that September 11 attack terrorists entered the United States from Canada.
We’ll know more today about what went wrong and what the President plans to do about improving homeland security. I doubt Napolitano’s job is in jeopardy though—too bad.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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