In the wake of the Christmas Day attempt to detonate a bomb on a Northwest Airlines flight, numerous Fox News hosts, contributors, and guests have called for profiling of Muslims by airport security personnel. But several national security experts have termed such policies ineffective, with Bush administration secretary of homeland security Michael Chertoff stating that "relying on preconceptions or stereotypes is actually kind of misleading and, arguably, dangerous."
Back in March, we noted that numerous media figures had highlighted claims that President Obama's "plate" is too "full," suggested he has "bit off more than he can chew." Since the unsuccessful Christmas Day terrorist attack, conservative media figures have taken this meme in a new direction, asserting that the administration was unable to predict the attempted attack because they were too "distracted" by domestic priorities.
Fox & Friends' Gretchen Carlson advanced the theme today, claiming there are "people asking" if the White House was "too distracted" by "health care reform and cap and trade" to properly focus on national security. Similarly, The Washington Times' online poll question of the day asks, "Has President Obama's domestic agenda prevented him from properly addressing the terrorism threat against the United States?" while Joseph Curl's article in the paper uncritically channels the Republican Party's answer of "Yes."
This is ridiculous for any number of reasons (for instance, it seems unlikely that the CIA and State Department didn't keep the alleged terrorist off the plane because they were too busy trying to pass health care), but here's my take: If the Obama administration has been negligent for trying to simultaneously handle issues of domestic policy and national security, how horribly derelict in their duty was the Bush administration?
After all, in the fall of 2001 - in the very months after the September 11 attacks! - the Bush White House was working with congressional leaders on passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, the conference report of which passed in December of that year. America was under attack, and yet the president was busy trying to restructure the national education system!
Then in 2003, the Bush White House was "distracted" pushing a new massive piece of domestic legislation, Medicare Part D. And in 2005, they took their eye off the national security ball to try to "reform" Social Security.
It's amazing we're all still alive. Somehow, the federal government is capable of handling a number of different priorities at the same time. Go figure.
From the January 4 edition of America's Newsroom:
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From the January 4 edition of Fox & Friends:
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On the January 4 edition of Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy claimed that the decision to try Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is alleged to have attempted to set off a bomb on a Northwest Airlines flight, in civilian court, rather than holding Abdulmutallab as an "enemy combatant," "takes us back to the days of the Clinton administration, when things like this were treated as a law enforcement issue, and not as a national security issue." In fact, the Bush administration also tried and convicted several terrorism suspects in civilian court.
From the January 4 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the January 3 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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From the December 30 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
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If you were typing up Dick Cheney's attack on Barack Obama's response to the Christmas Day attack in which someone tried to blow up a plane bound for Detroit, and hyping the GOP "strategy for next year's midterm congressional elections" of "portray[ing] Democrats as weak on security," would you maybe include mention of the fact that two of the four people who allegedly plotted that attack were released from U.W. custody in 2007, while Dick Cheney was Vice President?
UPDATE: And just to be clear, Allen didn't get an interview with Cheney. No, he describes the source of Cheney's attacks as "Cheney said in a statement to POLITICO" -- which is a fancy way of saying "Cheney said in a press release." So to sum up: Dick Cheney sends Mike Allen a press release, which Mike Allen then copies-and-pastes it into a "news article" without mentioning key facts that would undermine Cheney's press release. Aren't you glad Politico got a spot on the Pulitzer committee?
The anti-gay bigots at WorldNetDaily are back with yet another recycled attack on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings. This time, WND "news editor" Bob Unruh is trumpeting a seven-year-old Concerned Women of America "report" that, in the words of WND's banner headline, "Jennings called Falwell 'terrorist.' " But like every other attack the right has leveled at Jennings, this one falls flat.
In the first sentence of his WND story, Unruh breathlessly writes: "Reports have been uncovered revealing President Obama's Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings once called renowned evangelist Jerry Falwell a 'terrorist' ..."
Not until the 12th paragraph of the story (the 13th, if you count the paragraph hocking The Marketing of Evil audio book, on sale in the WND superstore) does Unruh get around to providing the context of what Jennings is actually alleged to have said -- context that makes Jennings' quote (assuming he actually said it) a lot less inflammatory:
The documentation on Jennings' opinion of Falwell comes from a report posted on the CWFA website about a 2002 conference.
Report author Allyson Smith noted going undercover to the GLSEN "Teaching Respect for All" conference in Los Angeles that year.
The subject of Falwell, who founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty Christian Academy, Liberty University and the Moral Majority, and died in 2007, came up.
Jennings said: "I have to stop and give my little homage to the Southern Baptist Church because one of its leaders, Jerry Falwell, two days ago just announced that the founder of one of the world's greatest religions, Mohammed, was a terrorist. Usually the religious right tapes everything I say, so let me make sure they get this [quote] down: Jerry Falwell, if you need to know what a terrorist looks like, go look in the mirror," according to the CWFA report.
Falwell had told CBS News earlier that the founder of Islam was "a violent man, a man of war."
For the record, here's the relevant portion of the 2002 60 Minutes report by Bob Simon that Jennings was allegedly referencing:
SIMON: (Voiceover) Falwell believes most Muslims want to live in peace but, he says, the lines have been drawn: Christians and Jews on one side, Muslims on the other. And, he says, those lines were drawn more than 1,000 years ago.
SIMON: So the same way that Moses provided the ultimate example for the Jews and the same way that Jesus provided the ultimate example for Christians, Mohammed provided the ultimate example for Muslims, and he was a terrorist?
Of course, this wasn't the first outrageous comment Falwell had made about terrorism. A year earlier, in the aftermath of 9-11, Falwell suggested that the United States deserved the terrorist attacks, famously telling Pat Robertson that "what we saw on [9-11], as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact--if, in fact--God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve."
Falwell went on to "point the finger in" the "face" of several groups he claimed "helped this happen," including "the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle":
FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this.
ROBERTSON: Well, yes.
FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way--all of them who have tried to secularize America--I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."
Wall Street Journal Travel Editor Scott McCartney writes:
Congress needs to confirm Erroll Southers as TSA chief. The agency has no leader because Congress has dragged its feet on his nomination. Mr. Southers, who has worked for the FBI and handled airport security for Los Angeles World Airports, gets high marks from colleagues and seems well-qualified. Someone needs to be in charge at TSA.
While it's true that "Congress" hasn't confirmed Southers, McCartney's formulation obscures rather than clarifies who is responsible for TSA lacking a leader. Souther's nomination is being blocked by Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina:
Two Senate committees have given their bipartisan blessing to Erroll Southers, a former FBI special agent and a counterterrorism expert who is Obama's nominee. But DeMint has objected to a full Senate vote, saying he wants additional testimony to clarify Southers's stand on unionizing the TSA, a shift Democrats support.
That's why TSA lacks a chief: Not because "Congress has dragged its feet," but because a Republican Senator is blocking a nominee who has won bipartisan support, simply because the Senator doesn't want TSA to be unionized. And because the rules and customs of the U.S. Senate give one Senator the power to do such a thing.
One of the primary reasons why individual Senators are able to block nominees to important posts like this is that few people know it is happening, so there is little if any public pressure on the Senator to allow the nomination to proceed, or on the Senate to change its rules to prevent situations in which a single Senator is able to keep the President from filling key jobs. And one of the primary reasons why few people know it is happening is that journalists don't make it clear. McCartney's phrasing may appeal to people who like to rail against Congress as a bunch of pinheads who can't get anything done, but it doesn't actually do anything to actually illuminate why this thing isn't getting done -- and, therefore, doesn't actually do much to get it done.
Later, McCartney writes:
Body scanning technology needs to be stepped up and widely deployed. Terrorists carry bombs on their bodies, not their bags. We need to get past privacy concerns and spend the money to get machines in wide use.
But McCartney doesn't explain what the privacy concerns with the machines are, or why he thinks they are outweighed by their benefits. He simply announces that "We need to get past privacy concerns." Call me crazy, but I like to hear a reason or two before I get on board with dismissing "privacy concerns."
On the December 27 edition of CNN's State of the Union, Mary Matalin falsely claimed that President George W. Bush "inherited a recession from President Clinton, and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation's history." In fact the 9-11 attacks occurred eight months into Bush's presidency and more than a month after he had received a Presidential Daily Briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," and the recession began in March 2001.
In the latest smear in the right-wing media's witch hunt against Obama administration "czars," WorldNetDaily falsely claimed that State Department anti-Semitism envoy Hannah Rosenthal -- who has a long history of pro-Israel advocacy -- is an "anti-Israel lobbyist," apparently because of her affiliation with J Street. WorldNetDaily also falsely claimed that in a statement she reportedly made more than seven years ago, Rosenthal "seemed to imply Israeli policies were to blame for anti-Semitism."
From Dana Perino's twitter feed:
From Fox Nation on November 25:
According to its website, the 9/11 Never Forget Coalition "formed to fight the decision of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to try the 9/11 co-conspirators in New York City's federal court, effectively giving war criminals the same rights as American citizens while endangering the safety of all New Yorkers."