December 27th, 2009

The Flight 253 Christmas bomber: the silence of Obama

President Obama is vacationing in Hawaii, and hasn’t yet deigned to address the nation on the subject of the Flight 253 terrorist. Instead, he has left that task in the very unsteady hands of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who has reassured no one by saying that “the system worked.”

What’s going on here? Speculation ranges from the idea that Obama’s handlers are nixing a statement from him in order to protect Obama from any faux pas, ad-lib or otherwise; to Marc Ambinder’s risible notion that Obama’s silence is strategic, and will deny the terrorists the attention they’re hoping for. Richard Fernandez takes care of Ambinder thusly:

[Ambinder’s words] come ready formed from that Washington cauldron of action, the cocktail party. In that setting the wounds are inflicted by different weapons: the disparaging glance, cutting word, calculated snub and the limpness of the handshake. These strike the telling blows…Through this prism the world looks a different place. Al-Qaeda must be crushed that the President has decided to stay in Hawaii rather than react to their nearly successful attempt to bring an airplane with nearly 300 people down on Detroit. The Islamists must be mortified that he does not even deign to notice them. They must feel downcast; oppressed by the certainty that they are so yesterday. In that universe Obama could not have smitten them more cruelly than if he had told them “don’t call me, I’ll call you”.

Ridiculous, as Fernandez goes on to say.

But what does it mean when Napolitano says “the system worked” when it most definitely did not, and when Obama cannot interrupt his golf game to make his own statement? Look at it from their point of view. The contempt in which they hold the American people assumes that the public cannot figure out on its own that this was a serious attack in which the system most definitely failed. They believe that if Napolitano tells us all is well, then we are reassured and will believe it to be true, despite the evidence before our lying eyes. Since the administration can’t figure out a way (yet) to say that they “inherited” this particular attack from President Bush, and since no one was killed, they believe the best approach is to minimize it.

After all, this was just an “attempt.” In law (and always remember that Barack Obama is a lawyer, as was Bill Clinton before him, as is Napolitano), the word “attempt” means that the criminal act did not succeed in its intended result. It doesn’t mean it was not potentially very lethal indeed.

For example, if a terrorist obtained a suitcase nuclear device designed to kill many thousands, and for some minor reason it fizzled (much like the Flight 253 bomb) when set off and therefore failed to kill anyone—legally, that chain of events becomes a mere “attempt,” subject to far smaller penalties than if a single person were murdered, even though the perpetrator did everything in his power to kill enormous numbers of people and was protected only by his own incompetence.

Obama has been strongly pushing the pre-9/11, criminal law approach to terrorism, and that’s the way the civilian criminal law would treat any such act. So, to our president, this really is a minor incident hardly worthy of notice. Move along please; nothing much to see.

A great many Americans view this quite differently. They would like to see some serious attention paid, and they’re getting the distinct impression that this administration will not be doing so at any point soon.

Wake-up call ignored.

48 Responses to “The Flight 253 Christmas bomber: the silence of Obama”

  1. maneocon Says:

    Well said Neo. In fact, reading the account of the incident, one is almost forced to laugh about the guy’s pants on fire. But it is no laughing matter. It was sheer incompetence that saved those 270-odd passengers aboard that flight. And of course some quick action from both the fellow passengers and the flight attendants.

    Watching Ms. Napolitano on TV, I wondered out loud if she was for real. Just defying common sense.

    I don’t particularly think that the President himself needs to say something. However, who ever did say need to sound more sincere, credible and caring.

    Sooner or later, some guy will slip through this relaxing ‘Home Land Security’ charade and it will be disastrous.

  2. anna Says:

    ugh and I have to fly this week, over new year’s eve/day no less. Now I am like freaked out, i hope some of the fellow passengers on my flights know kung fu or something…

  3. Mr. Frank Says:

    Obama is also silent about the violent repression of dissidents currently going on in Iran. I guess it’s that new soft diplomacy.

  4. expat Says:

    Napolitano sounds like a typical bureaucrat who thinks the most important part of her job is to place check marks on a form. It’s all CYA and don’t stick your neck out. Obama has the Secret Sevice to provide physical protection and uses the cabinet to handle political cover. None of the latter seem interested in the work they should be doing. Nor do they seem to understand the nature of the terrorist challenge we face. Idiots.

    BTW, this WaPo article shows how the Obama mirror technique works in the real world rather than in the offices of the HLR:

    The team of rivals seems to be working at cross purposes because Mr. Empty Suit doesn’t want to be pinned down.

  5. SteveH Says:

    Its quite simple. Checking underwear for sewn in bombs didn’t fall under anyones job description so it couldn’t possibly be a failure or anyones fault.

    Anyone else get the feeling the TSA is really about people with rights to a living wage job and actual security is down somewhat farther on the list?

  6. Julia NYC Says:

    “The system worked” yeah right. Thank God Jasper the Dutchman was on board. But what if Jasper can’t be on every flight? Then what?

  7. Baklava Says:

    People !

    The system did work !

    We system showed us how broken the system is !

    The system did it’s job !

    Now we can see that we can’t be subjected to never ending removal of shoes, frisking, infant formula throw outs, etc.

    There will be a woman who has a breast implant with the explosive in the future.

    This time it was an underwear bomber. Last time it was a shoe bomber. Next time may be a breast bomber.

    Islamists here me out. You will ASSURE your destruction if you keep going down this path. We will not be satisfied with ∅bama’s approach. Obama’s approach is as appeasing as you get in this country.

    Next – you may have a Netanyahu as a president of the U.S. or even better. We cannot ALLOW people BENT on destruction.

    What is it about you freaks that can’t allow other people to do things their way – like worship Jesus or a God different than Allah? Why can’t we coexist?

    People in the U.S. with the coexist bumper sticker are preaching to the wrong people. I don’t see Catholics or Baptists going to Turkey and Iran doing suicide bombings.

    Stop destroying and start raising a family in peace. Start building. Build it and people will come.

  8. Baklava Says:

    How long will this video survive?

    Max Baucus drunk on the floor of the Senate

  9. holmes Says:

    At least this alleged terrorist (CNN) did not say a disparaging or misleading word about nationalized healthcare; that would have earned a sharp rebuke and perhaps even an IRS audit.

  10. Michael Says:


    I feel your pain. I am to fly the day after tomorrow and I have been trying figure out if I am allowed underwear.

    Or my cane, come to think on it.

  11. A_Nonny_Mouse Says:


    “Stop destroying and start building” are touching sentiments; but I’d say you’ve got it backwards.

    The Muslim idiots are “acting out” against us BECAUSE they can’t build anything; Islamic societies stagnate, they don’t create. Islam is zero-sum: “What you’ve got, you took from someone else. What I want, I have to be strong enough to take, as well.”

    Islam’s founder, Mohammed, declared that his many heinous actions were righteous since they were to promote and protect the”religion” Allah had revealed to him. The current crop of jihadists follow this same practice: you can justify any foul deed by claiming you’re doing it to promote Islam or to protect the “holy name” of Mohammed or Allah. And whatever your sins may be, they will be erased if you are “martyred in the cause of Allah”; what’s more, you can look forward to all Eternity with your 72 virgins in Allah’s bordello — I mean, Paradise.

    Islam appeals to borderline personalities– especially violent men who want to believe they are called to be Allah’s noble warriors (which is easier on the psyche than realizing they’re just misfits whose outbursts keep them from fitting in anywhere. )

    And you’re right: all the “coexist” bumper stickers in the world don’t matter; it takes two sides willing to negotiate, to compromise, to keep their word, to make a real peace. When one side believes any compromise is weakness, THERE IS NO PEACE.

  12. Bob From Virginia Says:

    Here is my idea of of bumper sticker that sends a clear message to Obamis and jihadis:
    “Netanyahu in 2012”.

  13. Kae Arby Says:

    I may be an odd bird here but I’m kind of grateful that Obama isn’t saying anything right now. At least is means we won’t have to go through the Maersk Alabama hijacking farce…at least for a while.

    Napolitano, well there’s a woman who is in need of a good firing. She really should have followed her boss’ lead and kept her frickin’ mouth shut.

  14. Promethea Says:

    Please think about all the weapons you can bring on board so that you or any nearby strong guy can stab, strangle, or suffocate the terrorist.

    I’m not kidding. We all need to think about how to protect ourselves.

    If any passenger acts in a peculiar manner, sound an alarm, or refuse to stay on a flight if it hasn’t taken off. Threaten to sue the airline if they don’t do something about your concerns.

    The Year 2010 will be known as the Year that Americans Took Back Their Country.

  15. Baklava Says:

    A nonny,

    I try to appeal anyways. The bombers being educated and with college degrees could build or start families.

    Of course – they won’t because they are sick.

    I don’t know what percentage of those who follow Mohamed are this way but they are showing Islam to need reform.

    This effort/war/battle will go on for more centuries (until our grandchildren’s grandchildren win) until and unless we can appeal to people to submit to peaceful ways.

    Preach to the infidel – don’t kill the infidel. It won’t win your way to heaven if you take up offensive killing to convert.

  16. Baklava Says:

    And on that note:

    The Religion of Peace tallys up their own attacks.

  17. Vieux Charles Says:

    A lot of strange stuff going down in Yemen these days.

    Perhaps the unthinkable, an alliance between al Qaeda and Yemenese Shi’a militants perhaps? And, what does British Intelligence know of it? Does the CIA even give a damn?

    The media wouldn’t call President Obama an ass, but Sun Tzu most definitely would.

  18. rickl Says:

    That is a great Belmont Club post and comment thread.

    And Wretchard’s comments are often even better than his original posts. See this one, for instance.

  19. Matthew M Says:

    The idea of screening for explosives regardless of inconvenience to millions is idiotic. Screening, or profiling, for terrorists is what is needed — not more BS about not holding a coat in your lap or visiting the lavatory. Refusing to fly citizens from certain countries would narrow the numbers to be scrutinized.

  20. J. Peden Says:

    Marc Ambinder’s risible notion that Obama’s silence is strategic, and will deny the terrorists the attention they’re hoping for.

    What’s next, flushing another Koran down the toilet? Surely the deep humiliation the Islamos now have to endure will only create more terrorists. But perhaps a strategic photo op. “bow” or five toward Mecca will redress their torture. We can only hope.

  21. J. Peden Says:

    Wasn’t the pledge to publically try KSM attention enough?

  22. Ned Says:

    Despicable…horrifying….sickening…that’s our “president”

  23. will Says:

    While old ladies and children are bullied by the dull eyed boors of TSA, the back door remains wide open. My wife and I had the fun and merriment of our holiday in Amsterdam brought to an abrupt end as we went through security at Schipol. I guess the would-be martyr had a easier go of it…but in Obamaworld, that sort of figures. Still no clear image of the beast, and silence from the White House, no reassuring press conference from the beach, no phone calls made public to the Nigerian head man. Nope, just like Ft. Hood, let’s not talk about it, maybe they will forget. In somewhat related news, the local fight continues here. A large mosque is planned but is being stalled by the local city council, the mosque people have begun to use terms such as “racism”, guess we’ll just have to let them build it…

  24. Steve G Says:

    Baclava and A_nonny_mouse,

    Like the islamofascist terrorrrrists, the communists/socialists/fascists in this country (and throughout the west) also come from the upper classes (including those who were practitioners of violence, such as Bill Ayers and the members of his group, the FARC in Columbia, and the like). Look at all the millionaires in the Democrat party who are supporting Obama’s push towards fascism. It is a reality that seems to have its foundation in guilt rather than common sense. Rush Limbaugh laughingly calls it “Affluenza”.

  25. NJcon Says:

    Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity — and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion — has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

    The Real History of the Crusades by Thomas Madden

  26. zfredz Says:

    Janet Napolitano’s comment reminds me of an old New Yorker cartoon. The first panel shows two guys sitting on a park bench passively watching a thief steal a little old lady’s handbag. The next panel shows the robber slipping on a banana peel while running away. The next panel shows a cop arresting the fallen thief. Last panel, has one of the bench warmers commenting, “See, the system works!”

  27. Madrussian Says:

    When Russia was shocked by assassination of the Tsar Aleksander II, a special task force was created known as “Okhranka”, and this force succeeded in eradicating terrorism. In mere decade, all organized terror was extingished. So this is possible without seriously harming law-abiding citizen lifestyle. Nobody feared Okhranka these years except terrorists.

  28. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Baklava—Baucus looks drunk to me. Wait a few hours and the video will disappear due to “copyright problems” or such, and without the images from the video, it will be a lot easier for the excuse of, say, a bad reaction to prescribed medication, or some sort of illness, or simple misinterpretation, to fly.

    On the Obama front, he just doesn’t give a shit, and he is on the side of his Muslim co-religionists in any case and, besides, hey, “surf’s up!” and to hell with America.

    The whole Rev. Wright and Trinity Church thing has served its purpose, Obama is President now, and so, he doesn’t need to pretend quite so much anymore. A little more proof of his essentially non-Christian/Muslim orientation being the Obama family skipping any kind of Church attendance for Christmas, and the reported lack of any family Christmas celebration at the White House—but, hey, they got Chairman Mao balls on the White House Christmas tree!

    Obama’s fundamental contempt for the United States, the American people and our way of life, values and traditions is becoming a little more obvious each day.

  29. david foster Says:

    Obama & his friends are far more afraid of the American people than they are of the terrorists. They regard us as a barely-controllable group of wild animals, and they fear that might stir us up. This, I think, is a primary reason for their continuing to downplay the threat of terrorism.

  30. CV Says:

    If Marc Ambinder thinks that Obama’s silence regarding this terrorist attempt is a “strategic” move to deny further attention, I wonder what his thoughts are on the president’s decision to try the 9-11 terrorists in a high profile civilian trial in New York City? More “strategy”?

  31. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    Anna: ball your fist up tightly, with your thumb on the outside. A quick pop to the nose will get their attention. If it seems to be a life threatening issue, aim for the adam’s apple.

    And if you’re gonna hit someone, hit ’em like you mean it. Also, nothing says I love you quite like a forearm shiv to the underside of the chin. You may not be tall enough to pull off a forearm shiv, so elbows and knees are good, too.

    Also making a ruckus works. There’s still enough of us knuckledraggers who think that if something makes a girl cry, it’s wrong and needs fixing…

  32. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    BTW, I’m flying New Year’s Day. I’m most concerned that TSA is going to say or do something I deem stupid, and lose my temper.

  33. armchair pessimist Says:

    My reason for wishing the little President to speak is that when he does he so often makes an ass of himself. This is a lesson that can’t be taught too often.

    As for “sending the right message” to our Islamic friends, I can’t think of a better one than that the next time the passengers lynch the would-be martyr on the spot, leaving his remains in whatever condition is most offensive to that amiable faith. Perhaps order up a special ham sandwich from the galley for his posthumous last meal.

  34. Baklava Says:

    Wolla, I hear ya. But imagine reading your post cold as a liberal. 😉

  35. Stark Says:

    Seriously it is time to drop the PC approach. Careful profiling, and erring on the safe side would be so much more effective. Apologize up front for anyone who is going to be offended and then really protect the public. This is only common sense. Why can’t our politicians figure this out?

  36. Artfldgr Says:

    this is a strong silence, not like the weak silence that means nothing, that the prior residents of the white house employed.

    he is sending the message of the elephant to the flea, without remembering the lesson that imagining of such a tale would give.

  37. zfredz Says:

    Recall that Bill Clinton did not visit NYC soon
    after the 1993 WTC bombing.

  38. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    As several commenters on Pajamas Media have opined, Obama & Co. will not try to take vigorous steps to stop terrorist attacks against the U.S. just yet because, the more attacks and the more successful they are, the more justification Obama & Co. will have after a major successful attack, to ask Congress for and get, draconian, “Emergency” powers that will allow them to impose all sorts of controls upon us that will greatly facilitate their progress towards the Tyranny they seek.

  39. Baklava Says:

    JFK understood economics better than Obama.

    But too much like Clinton

  40. vanderleun Says:

    New slogan: “Never let a Reichstag fire go to waste.”

  41. S.Graham Says:

    Flying into this country is a privilege,not a right.Start profiling and let them scream.

  42. Baklava Says:

    Of course – as soon as somebody flies in they are guaranteed doctors visits for free for their groin burns they suffered on their bombing attempt.

  43. Baklava Says:

    CNN reporters are idiots

    Jasper sir – Consider Fox News?

  44. Baklava Says:

    More bombers on the way suspect says

  45. Julia NYC Says:

    Everyone’s gotta get in shape!!! Everyone’s gotta go to the gym. I mean it. No more fatties out there! Who knows when we’re going to have to take someone down who’s trying to kill us! People have to start eating healthy, and GET FIT! And STRONG. (Myself included, full disclosure). We no longer have the luxury of sitting on our butts like tubs of lard, or atrophying into a weak pile of sticks. Our survival may depend on it, Thank God for that Jasper fellow, he saved our skins. And he wasn’t an American. Wake up folks! I remember 9/11 and how people had to walk miles and miles in Manhattan to get home that day. Folks in the Trade Center had to walk down fifty floors of stairs. The out of shape ones had a MUCH harder time.

  46. sweet[ea Says:

    Remember when Carter responded to the Iranians taking the American Embassy and the overthrow of the
    Shah by not lighting Christmas trees? That really showed them.

  47. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    At least if Obama, or Max Baucus has said things this way, if would have been entertaining:,-Untrue-Personal-Smear-Internet-Rumor.html

  48. Canister Set  Says:

    breat implants that are internally filled with saline solution are much safer compared to those silicone oil based type;:`

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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