It’s National Security, Not Partisan Security


It didn’t take much time at all for the GOP to attack President Obama and accuse his entire security policy as being the reason that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab almost took down an airliner over Detroit with a bomb strapped to his groin on Christmas Day.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano didn’t help matters much, either.

I think that our current methods of security on airline travel are reactionary rather than proactive and that limits us to preventing what’s already been done – or nearly done – rather than what will or could happen in the future.  That said, I don’t agree with the GOP that Obama’s decision to close Gitmo nor his other security-related policies have anything to do with the attempted bombing of the Northwest flight.

The reality is that this is just what the Republican Party has been waiting for: something to happen that they could blame on Obama’s inept policies and use to turn public favor away from him and back to the GOP.  They set it up early on by arguing in favor of torturing terror suspects, by calling the health care reform bill an act of socialism, and by opposing the announcement of when America will begin removing troops from Afghanistan.  Now, they’ve pounced.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.):

“I think Secretary Napolitano and the rest of the Obama administration view their role as law enforcement, first responders dealing with the aftermath of an attack.  And we believe in a forward-looking approach to stopping these attacks before they happen.”

And what forward-looking approach is that, exactly?  Torture?  I don’t know of any study or evidence that shows that the Bush-Cheney torture policies actually prevented any attacks, but if there is, I would be very curious to hear it.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) kept going:

“[S]oft talk about engagement, closing Gitmo, these things are not going to appease the terrorists. They’re going to keep coming after us, and we can’t have politics as usual in Washington, and I’m afraid that’s what we’ve got right now with airport security.”

Sen. DeMint is just drawing at straws here and doesn’t make a lick of sense in the process if you bother to even listen to what he’s saying rather than just get caught up in the rhetoric, which is what I’m sure he’s hoping people do.  First off, closing Gitmo was never intended to appease terrorists – it was meant to reestablish an American rule of law that abides by the U.S. Constitution, which had been blatantly broken during the Bush/Cheney era.  The decision to close Gitmo was done in order to bring America back to being America: a land that adheres to its laws and one that does not torture human beings.  Secondly, I don’t even know what he means with regard to the “soft talk of engagement.”  Obama just announced a gigantic military surge in Afghanistan, where this whole mess originated in the first place (well, in its current incarnation that started on 9/11/01), so I find it hard to believe that Pres. Obama has been anything but soft with regard to terrorism.  (Oh right, he doesn’t endorse torture.  I keep walking right into that one.)  And lastly, Sen. DeMint IS in Washington.  He is in politics.  For him to blame politics as usual, then he has to take the brunt of that claim as well, but of course, there’s no way he, or any other GOP politician, will take any blame for this.  Not that Sen. DeMint himself caused this but to point fingers at the institution of which he’s a part as if he’s not associated at all is a total split from reality.

Regardless, the fact remains that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded a flight for the US with explosives strapped to his groin and attempted to detonate it in mid-air over Detroit.  This should never have happened.  The TSA has reacted to this incident with pointless new rules like, on certain flights no one can stand during the last hour.  As if that would’ve prevented this recent near-miss.  It’s a ridiculous and transparent attempt to convey stricter security measures while in reality doing nothing to stop terror attempts.

This is a matter of national security, not partisan security.  Blame can be thrown around all day long, but that won’t keep us any safer either.  Sec. Napolitano couldn’t have been much worse in saying that “the system worked.” If the system allowed Abdulmutallab on a plane headed for Detroit with explosives, then the system failed.  Plain and simple.  If the measures we use to catch these people before they try to commit these heinous acts don’t stop them, then the measures themselves are inept and ineffective, even if they “work.”

Instead of pointing to the lack of torture or the transfer of terror suspects to American soil, the GOP would be better served to focusing on the real issue here: the TSA needs major improvements.  Perhaps the TSA needs to start from square one and think this whole thing out logically and methodically instead of just adding band-aids to the already broken system.  All involved in the security efforts deserve to take blame for this, but it does us no good to point fingers without offering suggestions on how to make it better.  There have to be better ideas out there than simply not letting passengers access their carry-on luggage an hour prior to landing.

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