Napolitano Shows Every Administration Needs a "Brownie"

In Crime, Politics, World on December 28, 2009 at 9:03 am

For the past four years, I’ve been a firm believer that it was probably close to impossible for any government official to say anything dumber than President Bush telling FEMA director Michael Brown after Hurricane Katrina that he was doing “a heck of a job.”

It was just mind boggling on so  many levels that every now and then I need to watch it again to remind myself that it really happened.

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It was hard to imagine anyone saying anything dumber.

But then, yesterday, Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano arrives on CNN to give Bush a run for his money.

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Really? The system worked? She really said that? Now, admittedly she was trying to say that after the incident occurred, everything went according to plan… the passengers subdued the would-be attacker and notifications went out to airports and other planes in the air.

First, we’re not even going to get into the thing about counting on passengers to get involved being a part of the system working.

Second, her response absolutely ignores the reality of the situation, which is that the Transportation Security Administration has got some serious problems.

It’s at the point where it’s actually hard to figure out where to begin.

How about the fact that almost one month before the incident Thursday where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to bring down a flight from Nigeria to Detroit, TSA inspectors had been in Nigeria making sure the airport was in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s standards for airline safety?

According to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, the TSA certified that the airport complied with all 25 ICAO safety standards.

Well, maybe they missed something.

Then there was the screw-up that resulted in the TSA’s standard operating procedure manual for airport screeners getting published online — which resulted in a Congressional hearing asking “Has the TSA Breach Jeopardized National Security?”

At the hearing, the acting TSA administrator, Gale Rossides, told members of Congress that “our aviation security procedures remain strong.”

Well, maybe not strong enough.

Curiously, TSA seems to have been looking for a vendor to provide bottled liquid scanners for more than a year and a half.

Now some people are calling for Napolitano to be fired and, in the end, that may be what happens.

But, really… that’s not going to solve anything. What she said was clearly stupid and misguided. No one’s arguing that the White House wanted to try and take a different tack than the previous administration and instead of scaring everyone, has been trying to be reassuring.

What Napolitano did, though, was just dumb. Her attempt at being reassuring came across as being out of touch with reality.

Meanwhile, the investigation continues. A Michigan man who was on the flight says that Abdulmutallab may have had help getting on the flight and The New York Times is reporting that for more than a year, the United States has been waging a covert war against Al Qaeda in Yemen — which, as I wrote yesterday, has been a growing problem.

  1. Reality Check: People say thoughtless, stupid things all the time.

    That goes for past presidents, cabinet secretaries, congress-critters, and so on. Someone so smooth that they can talk to the media without preparation of any significance and say intelligent, insightful stuff every time, would make me suspicious.

    That said, Ms. Napolitano did correct herself.

    And that brings up an important point: The TSA can only do so much to protect us from those with malicious intent. When are we going to learn that sometimes you have to take responsibility for your own safety and security? Sometimes, it is best for regulators to leave things alone.

  2. Mr. Miner,

    Ms. Napolitano was correct in each of her public statements. It is true that “everything went according to clockwork” and it is also true that the “system did not work”. In other words, everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do and that was not enough.

    All of the “enhanced” security we have seen since 9/11 have done nothing to thwart a terrorist getting on an airplane with an incendiary device. All of the ID checks, passenger screening, and air marshals did nothing. It was merely the quick action and thinking of ordinary travelers that saved the day.

  3. There are million people on the watch list and Amsterdam’s airport security is tight. Consider how many people are flying during Christmas holidays. The task of security is not foolproof. The shoe bomber resulted in examination of shoes. Will the underwear bomber force examination of boxers and panties?

    It is interesting to note that while citizens are terrified of suicidal bombers in our skies the National Rifle Association is lobbying to allow passengers on Amtrak to have concealed weapons.

    Perhaps the answer to our security is to stop making enemies or at the very least stop sending money to our enemies.

  4. Now some people are calling for Napolitano to be fired and, in the end, that may be what happens.

    Clicked on the link and the “some people” is the singular Jonah Goldberg!

    Does Napolitano deserve to be fired in anything other than a symbolic gesture? I haven’t a clue at this point. Early days and all. The important point is to learn all that we can from this incident and to change our safety protocols accordingly.

  5. You mention bush twice but nowhere Obama
    who selected this stooge for homeland security

  6. […] and crew for responding first, dunder-headedly declared that “the system worked” on CNN this […]

  7. She won’t be fired. She has done nothing wrong.

    Talk to the 108 republicans, who in June, voted down additional funding for TSA.

    Isn’t it about time we quit looking at individuals and start holding all public representatives accountable?

    Napolitano isn’t at fault here. Every republican, democrat and independent leader in Washington DC gets a lions share of the responsibility here.

    Washington has become so politicized that it’s a wonder anything can get done that helps the American people.

  8. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dr. Mark Drapeau, Tweets Tube and topsy_top20k, topsy_top20k_en. topsy_top20k_en said: Heckuvajob, Janet Napolitano! […]

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