From The Detroit News:
The Rick Snyder gubernatorial campaign took a swipe at fellow Republican candidate U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra today, saying he’s inappropriately using the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack at Detroit Metro Airport in an attempt to solicit political donations.
Hoekstra, R-Holland, sent out a fundraising letter today that opens with an account of the incident aboard Flight 253 and closes with this statement: “I know that as governor, my most solemn obligation will be to work every day to make sure that Michigan families are safe … Together, let’s stand up for America, and stand up for Michigan. Please help me fight by making a most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even $250.”
Republicans have wasted no time in attacking Democrats on intelligence and screening failures leading up to the failed Christmas Day bombing of Flight 253 — a significant departure from the calibrated, less partisan responses that have followed other recent terrorist activity.
The strategy — coming as the Republican leadership seeks to exploit Democratic weaknesses heading into the 2010 midterms — is in many ways a natural for a party that views protecting the U.S. homeland as its ideological raison d’etre and electoral franchise.
“In the past six weeks, you’ve had the Fort Hood attack, the D.C. Five and now the attempted attack on the plane in Detroit … and they all underscored the clear philosophical difference between the administration and us,” said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.
“I think [Homeland Security] Secretary [Janet] Napolitano and the rest of the Obama administration view their role as law enforcement, first responders dealing with the aftermath of an attack,” Hoekstra told POLITICO. “And we believe in a forward-looking approach to stopping these attacks before they happen.”
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) went even further, telling FOX News that the Christmas attack proved President Obama’s talk-to-your-enemies approach might actually be encouraging terrorists.
“[S]oft talk about engagement, closing Gitmo, these things are not going to appease the terrorists,” he said. “They’re going to keep coming after us, and we can’t have politics as usual in Washington, and I’m afraid that’s what we’ve got right now with airport security.”
A White House spokesman says the administration wants to avoid making the national security and terrorism a partisan issue.
But other Democrats say the GOP’s yuletide political offensive could backfire on Republicans, putting the spotlight on the party’s own less-than-spotless record on homeland security.
Exhibit A: DeMint’s controversial “hold” on Obama’s choice to lead the Transportation Safety Administration, Erroll Southers, which has left the agency leaderless during a critical period of reappraisal and potential reorganization.
“Considering that this group has been playing politics with the TSA for months, their new-found concern about safety seems a bit contrived,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who acknowledged “legitimate beefs” about lapses leading up to the Christmas Day bombing attempt.
DeMint says he’s blocking Southers because the top cop at Los Angeles International Airport hasn’t vowed to block TSA unionization. And spokesman Wes Denton said the agency is better off headless than with big labor running the nation’s airports.
From the raw story:
In the wake of the attempted bombing of a plane bound for Detroit, Rep. Peter King (NY-R) criticized Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for appearing “bored.”
“What I was critical of here was that first of all we went almost 48 hours before anyone from the administration came out and even spoke about what happened,” explained King Monday.
“Finally, Janet Napolitano comes out and the first thing she said was everything worked well. And she seemed almost like she was bored to be there. There was no intensity. There was no show of emotion,” he said.
King was not the only Republican to attack Napolitano’s tone. Former George W. Bush spokesperson Dana Perino told Fox News Monday that Napolitano “missed the mark” with her tone and needs to “turn up the urgency just a tad.”
Because what we really need at a time like this is everyone on high alert. You know, like they were in the Chimpy days. From Slate (April 14, 2004):
In an otherwise dry day of hearings before the 9/11 commission, one brief bit of dialogue set off a sudden flash of clarity on the basic question of how our government let disaster happen.
The revelation came this morning, when CIA Director George Tenet was on the stand. Timothy Roemer, a former Democratic congressman, asked him when he first found out about the report from the FBI’s Minnesota field office that Zacarias Moussaoui, an Islamic jihadist, had been taking lessons on how to fly a 747. Tenet replied that he was briefed about the case on Aug. 23 or 24, 2001.
Roemer then asked Tenet if he mentioned Moussaoui to President Bush at one of their frequent morning briefings. Tenet replied, “I was not in briefings at this time.” Bush, he noted, “was on vacation.” He added that he didn’t see the president at all in August 2001. During the entire month, Bush was at his ranch in Texas. “You never talked with him?” Roemer asked. “No,” Tenet replied. By the way, for much of August, Tenet too was, as he put it, “on leave.”
And there you have it. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has made a big point of the fact that Tenet briefed the president nearly every day. Yet at the peak moment of threat, the two didn’t talk at all. At a time when action was needed, and orders for action had to come from the top, the man at the top was resting undisturbed.
Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer and the State Department’s counterterrorism chief from 1989-93, explained on MSNBC this afternoon, during a break in the hearings, why the PDB—let alone the Moussaoui finding—should have compelled everyone to rush back to Washington. In his CIA days, Johnson wrote “about 40” PDBs. They’re usually dispassionate in tone, a mere paragraph or two. The PDB of Aug. 6 was a page and a half. “That’s the intelligence-community equivalent of writing War and Peace,” Johnson said. And the title—”Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US”—was clearly designed to set off alarm bells. Johnson told his interviewer that when he read the declassified document, “I said ‘Holy smoke!’ This is such a dead-on ‘Mr. President, you’ve got to do something!’ ” (By the way, Johnson claimed he’s a Republican who voted for Bush in 2000.)
Bush got back after Labor Day. That first day, Sept. 4, was when the “Principals Committee”—consisting of his Cabinet heads—met in the White House to discuss terrorism. As Dick Clarke has since complained, and Condi Rice and others have acknowledged, it was the first time Bush’s principals held a meeting on the subject.