Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"It Sat There For Five Weeks"

This is so maddening it's hard to write coherently about it.

If you're wondering whether anyone will be fired for this, or why Napolitano has not resigned yet, or where Dennis Blair is, or Panetta, this should tell you:

"It's becoming clear that the system that's been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have," Obama said.

Translation: We've only been in office for a year. Don't blame us.

I've known a few people who grew up in the Soviet Union or its satellite states. Talking about communism and what they remember most about the political and economic systems, they almost always mention the institutionalization of incompetence. Failure was not only accepted, it was rewarded. Take the country to the brink of another Great Depression, averted only by your own willingness to commit public resources to the least deserving members of society? You are praised for "bold action" and nominated for another four-year term to run the Federal Reserve. Eight years after 9/11, you still can't connect the dots when someone fresh from Yemen boards a flight at the notoriously unsecure airport in Lagos, one-way ticket paid for with cash, no checked baggage, a window seat next to the wing and above the fuel tank, already on a watch list, and whose own father begged us to be on the lookout? No problem -- "the system worked," she says. Until a new post-Soviet paradigm of accountability governs corporate and public affairs, this country will continue to disappoint those who invest in it financially or psychologically, or who board airplanes with the expectation of surviving the flight.

This episode goes with a previous post titled "Save Your Presidency." As disappointing as Obama's first year has been to many of his supporters, anyone worried about an unreconstructed Republican Party -- and a Dolchstoss-fueled Palin -- stepping into the vacuum left by stay-at-home Democratic voters has an interest in Obama snapping out of his inexplicable lethargy. But you can feel his presidency slipping away almost daily now, and it's hard to argue that he doesn't deserve it.


Anonymous wtf said...

For the most part the people who own and "manage" this country fly on private and government jets. A plane blowing up in the air is an "optics" issue for them, not one of personal survival, so preventing that is not a priority. And having seen time and time again that they can get away with actively committing outrageous crimes and thievery or letting them happen on their watch , they have no reason to stop the wave of white collar crime and incompetence.

12/30/2009 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meh, i don't know, i kind of like how he's not going all nuts. Our previous moron in chief would have been beating the drums for more action, code red!!, strip searches at airports, denying visas to furiners and of course more robotically delivered freedom bombs dropped on Yemen.

I'm not saying Obama won't do all those things (well except for Code Red!!), he just won't gloat about it.

Anyway, you can't stop all determined terrorists. However, this guy was a long hanging fruit, you miss him, then there are problems. Fire what's her face if she refuses to quit, explain the problems and how they are going to be rectified and other than that, remind people that they need to stay calm.

Oh and stop bombing, occupying, regime changing and invading other lands, and maybe in a few years the terrorist problem will slowly fade away.


12/30/2009 8:41 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

I think the easiest reaction for us is to throw up our hands and scream"fire all the incompetent boobs!"

Yes, the screening structure has been in place for years and reasons for the failure on Xmas day have proximal and myriad distant causes... but is the solution really to clean out all the bureaucrats every time the system falters?

The fact is we have 6.5 billion people on this planet, and law enforcement will be problematic. Bureaucracies are necessary, and bureaucracies have inherently negative attributes.

The Napolitano quote had to do with what happened *after* the event... and you know that. Napolitano is the Homeland Security Sec'y, and she was merely saying that she could not speak to the failings of the State Dept or the CIA.

You're better than that, TCR.

12/30/2009 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The solution is easy: start making relevant experience a requirement for all such positions. Napolitano's the most experienced DHS head we've had, and her experience is wafer-thin, as she's only dealt with the immigration side of DHS, and then only as a governor. Chertoff had no expertise in anything worthwhile, Ridge was appointed through pure cronyism, and let's not forget Bush's desire to put now-convicted felon Bernie Kerik in that all-important DHS position as well.

DHS will fail as long as its administration consists of a bunch of failures who know nothing about the world of security. We, the people, deserve a lot better than this.

12/30/2009 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one thing that's been bothering me - he bought the ticket in nigeria. do we monitor every ticket purchased in every airport in the world, including nigeria? and if so, are we putting money into airport security (such as monitoring) in countries like nigeria? and what do the wingers have to say about that? they won't even confirm a transportation security head in America, never mind spending money overseas. ... just saying.

12/30/2009 10:46 AM  
Anonymous judyo said...

I side with Tony on this one. You completely blindsided me, TCR.

This "system" as developed by Bush-Cheney was a farce from beginning to end. Tell me how a "list" of 550,000 names is manageable or even has anything to do with "terrorism"? I'd say it was more political harassment than anything else.

Obama, while a disappointment to many, has a whole Federal Government apparatus that is broken. Every agency is disfunctional ... he's got a lot of fire hoses but not enough for everything - even a whole 11 months out.

Walk in the shoes and then pronounce.

12/30/2009 11:06 AM  
Anonymous wtf said...

Judyo, if the system was a "farce" then why did Napolitano say repeatedly that it had "worked." Is she responsible for homeland security or not?

Obama does have a lot of hoses and most of them are pumping cash to his cronies on Wall Street. That's his number 1 priority.

12/30/2009 11:17 AM  
Anonymous judyo said...

I respect Steve Benen

12/30/2009 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriuosly Mr. President, when are you going to accept credit/blame for the events on your watch?

My guess is when the economy begins (if ever) to recover or the budget deficit begins (if ever) to shrink.

In the words of the weekly ESPN football crew "C'mon, man!!!"


12/30/2009 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Kilfarsnar said...

This incident reinforces what I have thouht all along; that the TSA and DHS aren't really keeping us safe with their security measures. Most intelligent, thinking people understand that airport security is largely theater and does little to thwart actual terrorists. Bruce Schneier has good stuff to say on that topic.

So we already knew all this. And yet nothing has happened over the past 9 years since we all freaked out over this stuff. There has been no foreign born terrorism in the US. How can that be? How can it be that we have crappy security and have had no incidents? Could it be that the threat is completely overblown? That there really is much less of a terrorist threat than we have been lead to believe?

I think the truth is that there are really very few people who want to blow up airplanes; even fewer who can actually pull it off. This most recent guy couldn't successfuly light his underwear on fire, and the previous guy couldn't even bother with a lighter to light his shoes. Richard Reid went with matches.

There is no terrorist threat. It is a boogeyman used to exploit our fear, deliver ratings to the news channels and money to the security and defense companies. If there were really all these terrorists out there, they would have done something by now.

12/30/2009 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is what was actually said and I agree with the above commentor's that you have, indeed, taken her words out of context.

She said, "NAPOLITANO: 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."

I give her a pass on this one.

12/30/2009 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So let’s set our flux capacitor to January 7, 2002, just days after Richard Reid snuck a shoe bomb onto a plane and see Jonah calling for Tom Ridge’s head on a platter. Oh dear. Not a word about shitcanning anyone in the Bush administration. Instead we have Jonah making the deliriously insane argument that the Reid incident is an argument for racial profiling because had Reid been an Arab named Mohammed racial profiling might have kept him off of the flight from Paris. No seriously.

I think a fun project for the holidays will be for us all to put on our snuggies, fire up Teh Great Gazoogle, and go back to the days after the shoe-bombing attempt and dig up everything these yahoos had to say about that. It will certainly be more fun than watching a ball drop in Times Square."

This is just a bunch of yelping over nothing. Check out Sadly No for some perspective.

Oh, and Happy Freaking New Year!

12/30/2009 6:26 PM  
Anonymous lahke said...

Sorry, TCR, I agree with the majority of the commenters that you overreacted here. Glad to see that your usual gold-loving libertarian crowd is so sensible--there may be scope for future bipartisanship after all!

12/30/2009 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Goldhorder said...

Lol at lahke. None of the gold happy libertarians have posted. This site picked up a bunch of liberal democrats during the Bush years. They liked listening to a conservative talk bad about Bush's government. Now that the "great black hope" is running things everything the government does is wonderful... Or he just needs a bit more time to undo all those nasty things the Bushies did. Basically same thing the repugs said about Bush's failures. He just needed time to turn around all those bad Clinton policies. You pathetic government worshippers are all the same. The second your team comes into power the blinders go on. Me...Clinton made my miss the Reagan years. Bush made me miss the Clinton years. Obama is making me miss the Bush years. Lol... I do like Kilfarsnar's comment though. Considering the number of American deaths in terrorist attacks per year.... One might think the Trillions spent could have been more effective with say.... Traffic safety... or maybe health education... But hey...such unsexy topics don't get the public in frightened order to mamipulate them.

12/30/2009 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People are blaming Napolitano for what is basically a failure at State - the CIA, again. Stop acting like the report went to Napolitano. It is convenient now to give the CIA a pass, because that is a tool for folks like Newt Gingrich to prop them up as victims of demoralization by the Obama Administration.

There is a measure of institutional incompetence. It exists in any large organization. All the folks getting jobs because of who they knew or slept with? Nothing new. Civil servants/Military Officers & NCOs getting promotions based on time, not talent? Nothing new.

I normally love you, TCR, but this is overreaching.

12/30/2009 9:00 PM  
Blogger Cecile said...

Mad at what? The title of the "maddening" article is "US knew of airline plot before Christmas", yet there is nothing in the article about any specific date the attack might occur. There is this: "A CIA official prepared a report on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab after a meeting with the suspect's father in November, who shared information about his son's extremist views, CNN reported Tuesday. The report was sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, but it sat there for five weeks and was not disseminated, a "reliable source" said." I think it's quite likely there are many tips such as this sitting on desks waiting to be investigated.

12/30/2009 10:00 PM  
Anonymous judyo said...

I couldn't resist.

"One of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit was released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November 2007 ...

American officials agreed to send the terrorist from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia, where he entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and was set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials. ABC News described his enrollment in the art therapy program in a January report."

12/30/2009 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the comments here are any indication, "the institutionalization of incompetence" is complete.

12/30/2009 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12/31/2009 6:40 AM  
Anonymous lahke said...

Ah, Goldhorder: I agree that following Cheney into craven violations of our Constitution and values was both distructive and expensive, but won't be shamed into thinking that we don't need an active government to keep the free market from going haywire. It's the results of that free market meltdown we've just been through that have you hoarding gold, after all. Though if Nouriel Roubini is right, you're in bubble territory now. Here's hoping that you can sell high, and that we all have a better new year.

12/31/2009 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really should stick with topics that you have a clue about.

1/01/2010 1:48 AM  
Anonymous maynardGkeynes said...

Think about it: on 9/11, Bush had to use cell phones to communicate with the National Security agencies. Think of all the money this country has spent on command and control after a nuclear attack. All wasted. Yet no one was fired or even disciplined. They don't care.

1/01/2010 9:55 AM  
Anonymous confederacy of dunces said...

The TSA went after a couple of bloggers who posted the security directives they sent to 10,000 airports and airlines worldwide. A pair of special agents showed up at a blogger's door and told him they were going to copy then contents of his hard drive -- as soon as they got back from Walmart. Then they got back from Walmart with their super secret squirrel/national security gear, but they couldn't figure out how to make it work.

Oh, and then they searched his cell phone, and found a listing in his contacts menu for his mother, to be called in case of emergency -- and they began to interrogate him about "MOM," his mole in at Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

We've hit absolute rock fucking bottom. I laugh out loud at the people clicking their tongues at CR, here.

1/01/2010 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time for an acountability watch? X number of days since the incident that no one has been fired, etc.

1/01/2010 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Inthon said...

I couldn't agree more with GH, this group is so sad. There are FAR too many people willing to look the other way when a Democrate does things. It really just boggles the mind. If GWB or a repub did any of this stuff, liberals would be screaming bloody murder. A troop surge and a raising of the debt ceiling and no one says a word.

It is imperative that we look beyond the tired D/R paradigm and realize that government itself (not who is in charge) is leading us down a path of ruin since governments are essentially owned by corporate interests that use government to profit and avoid free market competition.

For those that want to give Obama a free pass, just look at his bogus inner circle (Rubin, Summers, Emanuel, etc.) and tell me if this is really "change"!

Liberals/Democrats, please stop cluttering the comments with Obama fawning, it is getting really pathetic.

1/01/2010 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Goldhorder said...

Lahke... Really now. Why would I do that? Why would I sell gold? Roubini? Lol. At anytime the ship could go down. Can the Fed inflate one last bubble before the ship goes down? I suppose it is possible. If that happens the price of gold could go down. Will it fall to $300 an ounce like it was in 2000? No...think of gold as the anti-government. As the government ratchets up its power and freedom dies... It always does it two steps forward... One step back. The boiling frog syndrome so to speak. The price of gold will follow this trend. Gold will go no lower than $700 an ounce. And will see at least $3000 an ounce in the next 5 years. The only thing that can stop the destruction of our economy is the Fed steadily raising interest rates and causing a severe recession. The bankers and the militarists will be out of business and we can try to recover. Until the parasatic institutions in DC and wall street killed real economic growth is impossible. The low interest rates are not to "save the economy". Lol. They are to keep our financial and military empire in place. The chinese are slowly putting us in checkmate. Our leaders and our arrogance as a collective nation is so stunning to me I laugh in disbelief. Our leaders really think they are something special and they are going to wind up on top of a new world order at their command. Me? Gonna keep buying gold. The anti-new world order! The anti-napoleon. Remember that bugs bunny cartoon? No! I'm Napoleon! Lol

1/04/2010 9:52 PM  
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