Barack Obama gets an ‘F’ for protecting Americans

by Toby Harnden
Telegraph [UK]
30 December 2009

Toby Harnden is the Daily Telegraph’s US Editor, based in Washington, DC.

There is no more solemn duty for an American commander-in-chief than the marshalling of “every element of our national power” – the phrase Obama himself used on Monday – to protect the people of the United States. In that key respect, Obama failed on Christmas Day, just as President George W. Bush failed on September 11th (though he succeeded in the seven years after that).

Yes, the buck stops in the Oval Office. Obama may have rather smugly given himself a “B+” for his 2009 performance but he gets an F for the events that led to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarding a Detroit-bound plane in Amsterdam with a PETN bomb sewn into his underpants. He said today that a “systemic failure has occurred”. Well, he’s in charge of that system.

The picture we’re getting is more and more alarming by the hour. Here are some key elements to consider:

1. Abdulmutallab’s father spoke several times to the US Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria and visited a CIA officer there to tell him, apparently, that he feared his son was a jihadist being trained in Yemen. According to CNN, the CIA officer wrote up a report, which then sat in the CIA headquarters at Langley for several weeks without being disseminated to the rest of the intelligence community. This was not just a casual encounter. Again according to CNN, there were at least two face-to-face meetings, telephone calls and written correspondence with the father. If it’s true that the CIA sat on this then it beggars belief.

2. After 9/11, the huge bureaucracies of the Homeland Security Department and the Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI) were created. Inside the DNI, the National Counter Terrorism Center was created. These organisations were created to “connect the dots”. It may well be that the fault lay with NCTC and not the CIA – CIA spokesman George Little says here that “key biographical information” and information about “possible extremist connections in Yemen” was passed to NCTC. If NCTC knew about it, then did someone at the National Security Council within the White House? There’s a huge blame game beginning so we’ll no doubt know soon enough.

The article continues at the Telegraph.

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