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.
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.
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.