Jan 04 2010
The NY Times comes out with a lengthy article today to try and shore up John Brennan – President Obama’s national security chief. It was just yesterday where I discovered Brennan had hinted in an interview during the presidential campaign that if Obama was elected he planned to dial back the trip wire sensitivity on our national security:
To me, I think the government does have the right and the obligation to ensure the security and safety of its citizens.Â If there is probable cause, reasonable suspicion, about the involvement of a U.S. person in something, the government needs to have the ability to understand what the nature of that involvement is. The threshold for that type of government access can be high or can be low, andÂ it [the probable cause threshold] needs to be somewhere in the middle.
You donâ€™t want to just troll and with a large net just pull up everything.Â There are technologies available to pulse the data set and pull back only that which has some type of correlation to your predicate Â [the probable cause threshold].
I would argue the government needs to have access to only those nuggets of information that have some kind of predicate. That way the government can touch it and pull back only that which is related.Itâ€™s like a magnet, set to a certain calibration. Thatâ€™s what I think we need to go to.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the threshold, quite frankly, was low, because we didnâ€™t know the nature of the threat we faced here in the U.S. [Post 9-11] Every effort was made by the government to try to get as much understanding and visibility into what else might be out there thatâ€™s going to hurt us again. Now that a number of years have passed,Â we need to make sure the calibration is important.
It was clear to me, after reading this meaningless babble, why all those flashing dots that should have led us to detect and stop the Christmas Day Jidahist Bomber (trained and equipped by al Qaeda in Yemen) were never connected. Brennan and Obama felt it was time to stop reacting to every little threat and ‘calibrate’ our defenses to something less reactive (in the middle). That was his and the President’s plan – and they have the gall to be surprised 300 Americans nearly died on Christmas Day and 13 Americans did die when the terrorist investigations into US Army Major Nidal Hasan were summarily aborted this summer.
Dialing back the sensitivity of the system means only paying attention to smoking gun dots (which as one reader noted here recently means you failed to stop the threat). It means you let less obvious evidence slip by.
The human Â error we keep hearing about could very easily be bad judgement by the Obama administration. Which would explain this 9 page damage control piece in the NY Times (which I am sure has been under work for many days now). Some interesting tidbits which proved my suspicions of Yesterday:
The attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines passenger jet on Christmas Day heightened a debate that has percolated over the last 12 months. Obamaâ€™s approach has been either a dangerous reversal of the Bush years or a consolidation of the Bush years, depending on who is talking. In fact, the new president, during his first year, has adopted the bulk of the counterterrorism strategy he found on his desk when he arrived in the Oval Office, a strategy already moderated from the earliest days after Sept. 11, 2001. He did, however, shave back some of the harsher edges of the remaining Bush policies and in the process of his recalibrations drew simultaneous fire from former Vice President Dick Cheney and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Obama, then, found himself in a place where he seems most comfortable, splitting the difference on a tough issue and presenting it as the course of reasoned judgment rather than of dogmatic ideology. Where Bush saw black and white, Obama sees gray. Where Bush favored swagger, Obama is searching for a more supple blend of force and intellect. Where Bush saw Islamic extremism as an existential threat equivalent to Nazism or Communism, Obama contends that that view warps the situation out of proportion and plays into terroristsâ€™ hands by elevating their stature and allowing them â€” even without attacking again â€” to alter the nature of American society.
How quaintly naive. By taking the threat of Islamic Jihad serious, Bush was not being refined? Yeah, he was kicking butt and protecting this nation! Obama really is that dangerous, naive liberal who just doesn’t get it. And the Dems wonder why they keep getting tagged as stupid on national security? Just think how dumb they would look if that bomb (they had been told about once and seen before in Somalia) had gone off and 290+ people died in a ball of fire over Detroit?
And it gets worse – much worse:
Rather than seeing terrorism as the challenge of our time, Obama rejects the phrase â€œwar on terrorâ€ altogether, hoping to recast the struggle as one of a number of vital challenges confronting America.
Which explains why their national security strategy includes global warming and H1N1 (as if we don’t have government bureaucrats looking into those ‘challenges’ already). Forget connecting dots, we need to focus on CO2! And yet there is more – this from John Brennan (Mr. Calibrate):
â€œThere was a tendency on the part of some to view the world through that prism â€” you know, are you with us or against us, black and white, this global war on terror,â€ John Brennan told me a couple of months ago in his windowless, low-ceilinged, soundproof office in the West Wing, where mobile phones are banned. â€œIt was almost all-consuming. It was the driving force for our foreign policies, that we were now engaged in this march on the global war on terror.â€ That attitude, Brennan went on to say, proved counterproductive.
Vigilance was too hard for poor Mr Brennan. He had other things he wanted to do with his career it seems.
â€œThis president recognizes that thereâ€™s still a very serious terrorist threat that we face from organizations like Al Qaeda,â€ he said. â€œBut at the same time, what we have to do is make sure that weâ€™re not pouring fuel on the flames by the things that we do.â€
I guess he means if we go after those planning to kill Americans they won’t like it very much. Or others will not like the fact we can project our power anywhere in the world with precision and force. Again, very quaint and silly concepts, but coming from arrogance and naivetÃ©:
â€œThe administration came in determined to undo a lot of the policies of the prior administration,â€ Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the homeland-security committee, told me, â€œbut in fact is finding that many of those policies were better-thought-out than they realized â€” or that doing away with them is a far more complex task.â€
Which means they are in over their heads. I need to head to work and have 7 more pages to review, but the existence of this massive CYA article in the NY Times tells me the White House is in high gear damage control. And if they dialed back the sensitivity of our warning networks as it seems they did – they have good reason to be in damage control.
As I said when this story starting breaking and the White House started bumbling the response – this incident could easily end Obama’s hope of a 2nd term.