Tales from the Trail

Bomb plot thrusts Obama into political storm

January 4, 2010

President Barack Obama is weathering a political storm over last month’s suspected al Qaeda plot to bomb a Detroit-bound plane, particularly from Republicans who say he dropped the ball on security while pursuing healthcare and climate reforms. But how much substance there is behind the allegations may depend on who’s talking.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina told NBC’s Today show that he believes Obama just woke up to the gravity of the al Qaeda threat. SECURITY-AIRLINE/OBAMA

“A lot of us have been concerned over the last year that the president did seem to downplay the threat of terror. He doesn’t use the word anymore. He hesitates to say that there is a war on terror,” DeMint said.

“But in the last few days, he seems to have come around to the idea that there are people in Yemen and other places who are intent on hurting Americans,” the lawmaker added.

A completely different picture comes from Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer-winning journalist who chronicled Republican George W. Bush’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The new administration is taking a very aggressive stance on these matters and perhaps even more than the Bush administration, doing more about the al Qaeda sanctuaries in places like Yemen,” Woodward told ABC’s Good Morning America. That view comes from reporting Woodward says he is doing for a new book on the Obama White House.

Meanwhile, DeMint says he wants to eliminate politics from the security debate. That means not blaming Obama or members of the president’s team for security lapses, at least not for now. It also means retaining his hold on the Senate confirmation of Erroll Southers, Obama’s nominee for the Transportation Security Administration. DeMint blocked that nomination out of concern that Southers would unionize the TSA.

“What I’ve asked for is just some debate and a recorded vote,” he told NBC. “This is all about politics and not security. What I want is a few hours of debate on Mr. Southers to help focus the nation back on security and get this politics, particularly union politics, out of our security apparatus.”

TSA’s job is to protect all modes of transportation, not just air travel. That breadth of responsibility could be important now that the Detroit bomb plot has put all the focus on airport security.

“Al Qaeda has capabilities to do other things. How about trains? How about buses?” Woodward said. “You can’t fight the last terrorist attack.”

Photo Credit: Reuters/Hugh Gentry (Obama)

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Comments
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If there’s one iron-clad rule in political journalism, it’s that being loud is more important than being correct. If DeMint can’t back up his claims, he shouldn’t make them. Obama has taken counter-terrorism far more seriously than Republicans have.

DeMint’s claim that the president refuses to use the word “terror” is both idiotic and wrong. For those of you interested in reality, the claim is simply false. In his weekly address only 24 hours before DeMint made his claim, Obama used the term “terror,” “terrorism,” or “terrorists” a half dozen times in a brief statement. He repeatedly used the words in an October speech. Other administration officials have repeatedly used them, too.

And if history is any guide, DeMint will be punished for lying again on national television by receiving several more invitations to lie again on national television.

Exactly. DeMint’s over-arching claim is that Obama has downplayed counter-terrorism by neglecting to use the word “terrorism.” It’s an error of fact and judgment, which was nevertheless widely picked up by news outlets.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive
 

Getplaning- Who was Meet The Press’ most frequent guest last year? Newt Gingrich. Second most frequent guest? John McCain. That should tell you everything you need to know about the liberal media.
It’s no wonder Demint wants to avoid talking about recorded votes. He has voted against pay increases for military personnel, voted against implementing the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations for strengthening homeland security, voted against funding increases for the TSA, and voted against the amendment allowing victims of rape by government contractors to seek redress in court. Against, against, against.
The man is engaged in an idealogical war with this country. Kind of like some other people out there.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive
 

It’s idiotic to make an issue of words. DeMint is not making things up, there is a concerted effort to eliminate references this being the War on Terror by this White House. Obama calls the Christmas Day “terrorist” a “suspect”. Well, there is no suspecting anything. He is a terrorist who tried to blow up an airplane with around 288 people on board. That’s the real issue.

As for Obama doing more than Bush, ha.

Obama was caught off guard with Yemen. Just this morning I read (AP) that the “administration expressed alarm at the terror group’s expanded reach in the poor Arab nation….”

The question is, why are they alarmed at this? If the administration was doing their job then this would be no surprise.

Rasmussen reports 79 percent believe there will be another terrorist attack this year in the United States. That’s up 30 points since August.

No, no one knows if there will actually be an attack, but this should give you pause because it shows the low level of confidence Americans have with this president and his terror policies.

We are not safer today than we were one year ago. Americans agree with that statement.

Oh, BTW, 58 percent think waterboarding and other aggressive techniques should be used to extract information from the Christmas Day terrorist.

My, my. How attitudes change when it directly affects people.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive
 

It’s idiotic to make an issue of words. DeMint is not making things up, there is a concerted effort to eliminate references this being the War on Terror by this White House. Obama calls the Christmas Day “terrorist” a “suspect”. Well, there is no suspecting anything. He is a terrorist who tried to blow up an airplane with around 288 people on board. That’s the real issue.

As for Obama doing more than Bush, ha.

Obama was caught off guard with Yemen. Just this morning I read (AP) that the “administration expressed alarm at the terror group’s expanded reach in the poor Arab nation….”

The question is, why are they alarmed at this? If the administration was doing their job then this would be no surprise.

Rasmussen reports 79 percent believe there will be another terrorist attack this year in the United States. That’s up 30 points since August.

No, no one knows if there will actually be an attack, but this should give you pause because it shows the low level of confidence Americans have with this president and his terror policies.

We are not safer today than we were one year ago. Americans agree with that statement.

Oh, BTW, 58 percent think waterboarding and other aggressive techniques should be used to extract information from the Christmas Day terrorist.

My oh my. How attitudes change when it directly affects people.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive
 

Obama holiday song – Soak the Rich at http://storyburn.com

Posted by voomies | Report as abusive
 

If Mr Obama does not hold his chosen people accountable for mistakes then we are doomed for his first term. Heads should have rolled after the Detroit incident. I would guess that Mr Obama has never run a business in his life where he had to turn a profit. You can’t leave non performers in positions of power and you have to make changes when things happen. Forget the newspapers, TV news junkies, and the Negative Republicans. Get the job done you were hired to do.

Posted by fred5407 | Report as abusive
 

“You can’t leave non performers in positions of power and you have to make changes when things happen.”

If that were the case then Bush would have lost his bid for reelection. We were attacked by Arabs lead by Bin-Laden who was hiding in Afghanistan. He used his Muslim faith to hide behind the Taliban by accepting their protection (hospitality). They would not give him up to the infidels.

Bush let Bin-Laden get away. No one was held accountable for lying to the public about our reasons for going to war with Iraq. Remember the ‘weapons of mass destruction”? People still try to justify that blatant lie by saying that the weapons must have been moved before our forces got there. Really?

We as citizens need to stop regurgitating the blame we hear across party lines and instead be vigilant and hold our leaders accountable by not voting for them again if they vote against our interests. If there is justice Lieberman will not have a seat come next election.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive
 

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