In last night’s remarks, President Barack Obama made another one of his late-in-the-game, 180 degree turnarounds. Not only did the system not work, as asserted by Robert Gibbs and Janet Napolitano after the Christmas Day incident aboard Flight 253, but now the President is calling it a “systemic failure” in our intelligence agency apparatus. No longer is it, as Obama said earlier, an “isolated incident” committed by the “alleged” terrorist.
The government, it is clear, knows that al-Qaeda was behind the attack, had information beforehand that someone from Nigeria would be involved, and had “warning signs” that were ignored. And just as before 9/11, intelligence agencies either did not share material some of them had with the other parts of the security apparatus. It also is now known that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had engaged in much activity that gave even his father cause to worry, as President Obama acknowledged:
“It now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect’s name on a no-fly list,” Mr. Obama said of the father’s warning. “There appears to be other deficiencies as well. Even without this one report, there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together.”
In other words, the president now acknowledges precisely what all his critics said from the start — and it took two days and obviously formal notice from Rahm Emanuel and company to alert him to the truth.
We also know — as many people said from day one — that Abdulmutallab was most likely radicalized in Britain, a nation whose leaders have all but given a welcome hand to Islamic extremists out of worry that they will be judged politically incorrect. Or as The New York Times reporter put it in typical incredulous Timespeak, “Britain remains a nation of deep Islamic ferment, where a young man like Mr. Abdulmutallab can become radicalized, perhaps without notice.” (my emphasis)
Well, perhaps if the British government shut down Wahhabi mosques run by radical clerics, instead of having the Queen knight some of them and the former mayor of London give them keys to the city, that is a problem that might quickly disappear. There have been scores of red flags writers like Melanie Phillips and others have pointed to for years about the success of Islamist mosques in London, so for the Times to write that now intelligence agencies are “are focusing on the possibility that his London years, including his possible contacts with radical Muslim groups in Britain, were decisive in turning him toward Islamic extremism” is positively alarming. (again, my emphasis.)
Instead of investigating, MI-5, in conjunction with the CIA and other U.S. agencies, should see to it not only that the mosques are infiltrated, but that the university Islamic Society of which Abdulmutallab became a leader is closed down. Terrorist fronts and training institutes cannot be protected under the auspices of academic freedom, as if the Muslim student group was just another campus organization. The same goes, of course, for the London Muslim Center in Whitechapel.
Finally, our own intelligence agencies and the administration have to be level with the public. For an administration committed to openness, the report on Prison Planet.com about the testimony of Detroit lawyer Kurt Haskell, who was on Flight 253 the day of the attack, is both shocking and chilling.
Various passengers have confirmed that other passengers were videoing the entire episode during which Abdulmutallab was subdued, although none of these videos have turned up on the television news so far, and no one has surfaced who took them. Talking on the Alex Jones show, Haskell confirmed that another man had been arrested, and that he saw a well dressed Indian man helping Abdulmutallab get on the plane in Amsterdam, even though he held no passport. Abdulmutallab, he told them, was a Sudanese refugee, and they often held no passports and were always allowed to board planes.
What is horrifying is Haskell’s testimony that the FBI agents were a “complete embarrassment” and put the passengers in great jeopardy, since they made them stay on the plane for 20 minutes although they did not know at that time whether or not there were more explosives present. He noted that a bomb-sniffing dog stopped at luggage held by an Indian man who was about 30 years old, and that the man was then led away in handcuffs by agents to a separate interrogation room.
Instead of listening to his story, Haskell maintains that the agents tried to trick him and do all they could to discredit his account, one to which he is sticking. Moreover, he is only telling the media what he saw, and is carefully refraining from drawing any conclusions about the episode.
Is this too something that, two days later, we will learn has just somehow surfaced from data collected by intelligence agencies that were not shared? Will President Obama then appear again with a statement, bringing forth evidence the nation learned of days earlier, but which he acknowledges for the first time?
To this observer, it is clear that more is wrong than an intelligence failure, although certainly that too exists. It is, as Vice President Cheney said to much admonishment from liberals, that at present, President Obama is not protecting the nation. But it has also been said by some liberals who have broken ranks, and finally concluded the same thing. As Jacob Heilbrunn wrote in his Huffington Post column, “Obama offered nothing more than platitudes about remaining vigilant against terrorism. Sorry, but vigilance isn’t enough.” He went on to conclude, and this is truly surprising from a columnist who until now has been an Obama cheerleader, that “it is galling to see the Obama administration respond tardily and ineptly to the threats emanating from abroad and to try and brush off the public with blandly reassuring fictions about their security.” As he says, Obama’s actions are “cause for alarm.”
Dick Cheney couldn’t have said it any better.