"One thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked."
That was DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano on CNN Sunday. Uh, no it didn't. In fact, the system failed spectacularly.
In the context of construction safety, this would be classified as a "near miss." The equivalent of a ton of bricks falling five stories nearly killing workers at the construction site. But for timely heroism or plain old luck, someone could have been killed or severely injured. If your safety supervisor looked at these facts and said, "One thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked," it is time to get a new safety supervisor.
So too with the Detroit-bound plane. But for the heroic intervention of a "flying Dutchman" and perhaps a defective explosive device, nearly 300 people survived a murder attempt over U.S. soil. The reaction of the government should be the same as if the terrorist had been successful. But, that will not be the case. It already isn't.
As this editorial in the WSJ articulates, despite the President's assurances that we are on offense in, uh, "overseas contingency operations," actions speak louder than words:
This increasing terror tempo makes the Obama Administration's reflexive impulse to treat terrorists like routine criminal suspects all the more worrisome. It immediately indicted Mr. Abdulmutallab on criminal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft, despite reports that he told officials he had ties to al Qaeda and had picked up his PETN explosive in Yemen. The charges mean the Nigerian can only be interrogated like any other defendant in a criminal case, subject to having a lawyer present and his Miranda rights read.
Yet he is precisely the kind of illegal enemy combatant who should be interrogated first with the goal of preventing future attacks and learning more about terror networks rather than gaining a single conviction. We now have to hope he cooperates voluntarily.
Doesn't Al-Qaeda know that "destroying an aircraft" is against the law? Americans realized that this defensive law-enforcement focus was farce at 8:45 A.M. EST on the September 11, 2001 (it actually became farce far earlier). I suspect that an overwhelming majority of Americans (and at least one Dutchman) still realize it. Our government no longer does.
Should we cling to the hope (along with guns and religion, of course) that our President is merely trying to please his left-wing by granting trials and miranda rights to terrorists and at the same time giving the OK to targeted missile attacks in Yemen and Pakistan to maintain the Bush era tactics that kept us safe for eight years?
No. For precisely the reasons laid out by the WSJ, addressing asymmetrical warfare with our domestic Justice system is a losing game. It will simply be a matter of time before our luck changes. As the old saying goes, "every time history repeats itself, the price goes up."