EDITORIAL: Big Sister’s big flip-flop

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

On Sunday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claimed that the attempt to blow up the Amsterdam to Detroit flight last week demonstrated that “the system worked.” On NBC’s “Today” show on Monday, she claimed that her comment was taken out of context, and that she agrees that the system “failed miserably.” Ms. Napolitano’s second attempt at honesty was just as disingenuous as the first.

In her interview on Monday morning, she claimed that her reference to the system working just dealt with how security responded after the attack had been thwarted.

Matt Lauer said, “You made a comment over the weekend … about this incident aboard this Northwest flight and you said, ‘When it came right down to it, the system worked.’ A lot of people don’t think the system worked at all, that the only thing that prevented disaster was luck.”

And Ms. Napolitano replied, “I think the comment is being taken out of context. What I’m saying is that once the incident occurred, moving forward, we were immediately able to notify the 128 flights in the air of protective measures to take, immediately able to notify law enforcement on the ground, airports both domestically, internationally, all carriers, all of that happening within 60 to 90 minutes …”

But Ms. Napolitano’s comments on Sunday were not just about the aftermath of the attack: “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 …”

If her comment applies only to the aftermath of the attack, then she has an interesting definition of “everybody.” The baggage and passenger screeners only had a useful role before the attack. Management and updating of our watch lists only really mattered before the attack.

It is hardly obvious why the actions taken after the attempted attack should assure us that travelers should be “confident” that air travel is “safe.” Nor is it obvious that the heroic actions taken by a passenger, Jasper Schuringa, who stopped the bombing, were part of some grand government design. Mr. Schuringa put out the fire with his bare hands while he was screaming for someone to give him water.

The appropriate role of the Cabinet secretary charged with keeping terrorists off airplanes is taking responsibility for failure, figuring out exactly how the failures happened and then tightening security to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

There are plenty of people in the Obama administration and out who can deliver self-serving spin on TV, but nobody else currently empowered to provide leadership to the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Agency.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts