Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Why don't you practice what you preach, President Obama?

Robert Gibbs tells us that President Obama wants to send the message to all the intelligence agencies that there should be no finger pointing and blame shifting after the Christmas bombing plot.
President Barack Obama will deliver a stern warning to his appointees at a meeting Tuesday afternoon that he won’t tolerate efforts by the CIA, the State Department and others to shift blame for the recent intelligence foul-up to other parts of the government, said spokesman Robert Gibbs.

“We are going to move beyond agency finger-pointing,” Gibbs told reporters. “The president will not find acceptable a response where everybody gets in a circle and points at someone else. The American people won’t accept that.”
All very admirable, I'm sure. Though I've never seen a bureaucracy where such blame-shifting didn't go on.

However, Barack Obama is the biggest finger-pointer we have in politics. Almost every speech he gives includes a jab at the prior administration. He has set a pattern of blaming others for whatever is wrong as long as those others are Republicans. Even when he goes overseas he includes jabs at the Bush administration in his speeches; most previous presidents have shown more class when talking to foreign audiences, but not The One. And now he suddenly wants others to avoid pointing fingers at others. Perhaps he should model a different attitude himself.

In the very speech in which he was calling for there to be no finger-pointing he basically blamed Bush for this most recent terrorist attempt by saying that Guantanamo was the reason why Al Qaeda in Yemen was established and that he is dedicated to closing it down. Why didn't Abdulmutallab get that message about Obama closing Gitmo so all should be hunky dory now? Does Obama really believe that there would be no Al Qaeda in Iraq if there had never been a detainee camp at Guantanamo? So why was Al Qaeda attacking us on 9/11? Once again he is demonstrating that he doesn't understand the difference between a pretext for terrorism and a cause of terrorism.

UPDATE: Andrew McCarthy comments,
Our intelligence agencies performed horribly here, and their statements since the news broke do not inspire confidence about their handle on the zillion threats we haven't heard about. But is Obama in any position to complain about that? He's spent the last year allowing intelligence officers to be investigated criminally, portraying them as rogues, accusing them of war crimes, removing them from the interrogation equation, and rebuffing calls to disclose to the public how effective their post-9/11 intelligence gathering was. If you create a climate in which pursuing and connecting dots is likely to get you in a heap of hurt, how surprised should you be that we've become lax in dot pursuit and connection?

If the president really wants dots connected, why doesn't he just declare Abdul Mutallab an unlawful enemy combatant and interrogate him like one? Doing so wouldn't stop Obama from having the terrorist indicted in the civilian justice system some time down the road. But if Abdul Mutallab has actionable intelligence, what's stopping the commander-in-chief from taking the obvious steps to get it? And why is the attorney general, rather than, say, the president or the secretary of defense, making these wartime decisions?