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Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Inevitable Undie-Bomber Question

Unlike the plurality of Democrats who as recently as 2007 believed George W. Bush knew of the 9/11 attacks in advance, there is no traction among conservatives for the theory that Barack Obama or his administration had actual knowledge of the Undie-bomber plot beforehand.

But the "what did he know, and when did he know it" paradigm is getting some traction as more information leaks out:
  • We know that the bomber's father contacted the U.S. Embassy to report his son's radicalization, and there are many other factors indicating that the dots as to this specific individual existed, even if no one put them together.
  • An anonymous senior administration source volunteered to Newsweek that Obama received an intelligence briefing three days before Christmas on terrorist threats, and that "Yemen" was not mentioned. The source refused to leak what was mentioned. How convenient to leak this tidbit about what was not mentioned to try to control the story.
  • Now it is reported, again by Newsweek, that a senior administration official was briefed (pun intended) on the underwear bomb technique after an attempt to use it in Saudi Arabia.
So what did Obama and/or administration officials know, and when did they know it? If we knew all bits of information about this individual, the Yemen problem, and the bomb technique, how did we not take preventative measures?

It is interesting that Obama now is taking an unusually aggressive posture, after mostly silence for several days, pointing out that the attack was planned in Yemen and that there will be retaliation.

Something sparked this rather dramatic change in tone. In the past few days, Obama undoubtedly has received multiple after-action briefings dissecting what went wrong.

Given what has leaked, and what has been disclosed publicly, it seems pretty clear that the answer to "who knew what and when" is not going to be favorable to the administration generally, and to Obama specifically. Again, not that someone knew of this actual plot, but rather, that someone or some collection of people knew the facts which under other circumstances would have alerted them to the danger.

The momentum is there, even if few have said it yet. The inexorable force of human nature is pushing us towards this inevitable question:
Was this administration so distracted by the all-consuming health care battle that it took its collective eye off the terrorist ball?
So why don't we just get it out in the open and ask it already?

Update 1-3-2010: Told ya so (h/t to a commenter):
Republican Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) on Sunday revived his assault against the White House's approach to counter-terrorism, charging the president was too "distracted by other things" to focus intently enough on national security.
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  1. As an admitted "right-wing extremist enemy" of the Obama administration, I have to guess these people are so busy trying to strip us of our rights and liberty that they are going to cause either via negligence or denial the deaths of many Americans in a preventable terrorist attack. I further believe such a terrorist attack will serve this administration's goals of exploiting a crisis to a tee...

  2. "Was this administration so distracted by the all-consuming health care battle that it took its collective eye off the terrorist ball?"

    Superbly succinct.

  3. I suspect the question, when asked, will garner the questioner as much respect and relevance as if he had questioned 0bama's Natural Born Citizenship.

  4. As I said in a comment a few days ago, I believe the Dec. 17th drone attack on Yemen will create lots of heartache for the administration when the Congressional hearings begin.

    Obama has spent the past year on a global tour apologizing profusely for Bush's cowboy unilateralism, yet the Peace Prize winner quietly orders the bombing of an arab country without explanation one week before the Fruit of the Loom bomber tried to blow up a jet?


  5. This is from my website:


    I linked over to another site that had a pretty good round up of the latest opinions. Truth is Obama is dangerous- to the average citizen. His "reset" theory of foreign policy has changed the way the terrorists and their state sponsors see us. They were afraid for a while, but not now. In my opinion I think the terrorist believe now they can break Obama. They couldn't Bush and gave up. But Obama.... For that I think 2010 will be bloody. As I said in my post.

    "Every time I see a left winger come up with a new idea or theory that is so disconnected from the real world I think of that old saying mothers used to tell their children. “It is all fun and games until you put your eye out.” In this case, Obama’s fun and games called being President won’t poke his eye out, or the eyes of his fellow elitists, but it will sure poke ours out, and crash our planes, kill our children and murder our citizens.

    All the while he stumbles around saying “Look at me, look at me, I can make a coin disappear from my hand and show up behind your ear! Isn’t that amazing!”


  6. Well, that's certainly one explanation, but I think it's a bit more complex than simply being distracted by healthcare. BO has been unwilling to believe that terrorism is a real threat, that Muslim extremists are motivated by something other than hatred of George Bush (despite the fact that the first World Trade Center bombing occurred in 1993 and was mishandled by Clinton, leading almost directly to the 9/11 attack), and less weightily but still of some significance, his bizarre belief that if he is "nice" and bends over backwards, somehow he, by shear force of his personality?, can defuse jihad. Uh-huh.

    I do find it strange that he is so pliable, though. Bin Laden is clearly using that good Alinsky tactic of holding us to our own rules re: Gitmo, and BO, an Alinsky acolyte, seems to be ignorant of that. Or, well, perhaps it fits his own agenda? Who knows. But I think there are many things that contributed to BO's and his administration's failure on Christmas, not perhaps the least of which is the drive for destroying our healthcare system.

  7. It wasn't that they were consumed by the health-care debate, they did not think that terrorism was a problem. The world was not supposed to hate us anymore once the Great One became president remember.They have cynically moved the terrorism trials to NYC, closed GITMO and have declared there is no War on Terror. They have been caught incompetent and wanting on yet another issue, only this issue unlike a waning economy is one where you can die rather than not being able to buy the latest ipod. But those of us who realized that this was going to be the outcome of this man's Presidency didn't vote for him. Unfortunately "I told you so," doesn't really help now does it?

  8. This post contains a lot of qualifiers and/or "weasel" words like "undoubtedly" and "seems" and does not contain a lot of facts. Get some facts, do some real reporting, then come back about some distraction. However, I do agree with one poster who questioned the bombing in Yemen. Finally, there would have never been a health care debate if the Repubs had done something doing the years they were in control of both the Houses. I have repeatedly stated that any health care that relies on shifting financial responsibility, telethons, charities, free clinics, etc.. is a health care destined for inequalities and inefficacies, which it currently contains. Fix the health care, which is a national disgrace, and maybe we as a nation can take a deep breath of focus on other matters.

  9. Right on queue from The Hill:

    "DeMint: WH 'distracted by other things,' not focused on security"


  10. My thesis is not only that Obama had too much multi-tasking early in his "reign," his counter-terrorism Czar, Brennan, with all of his experience should have counseled him to pay attention to the wars and let revisions to the procedures and priorities re terrorist control. Brenan's hand in both the terrorist watch list configuration and the formulation of Obama counter-terrorist policy - Brennan is stale and needs to be tossed. We need someone with good credentials but better judgments with a sense of creative problem-solving that the jihadists excell in. See my post about all of this.

  11. Where did he get the PET explosive? I tried to buy some at duty free the other day but they didn't have any