Commentary Magazine


Posts For: January 3, 2010

Got Your Seat Assignment?

In her pull-in-as-many-favors-with-media-elites-to-save-her-skin campaign, Janet Napolitano tells Maureen Dowd that you need to do your job:

“I think we do a disservice if we tell people there are 100 percent guarantees. I think we tell them we’re doing everything we can to reduce risk. I think we tell people that they are also part of the system. I mean, the passengers on this plane were a line of defense, the flight crew were a line of defense. So everybody has a shared responsibility here. You can’t just say, well, this government department or that government department’s got the whole shebang.”

Okay, does no one tell her to just stop talking?  Really, none of this is helping. For starters, I think after last week the majority of Americans don’t believe that the Obami are doing everything they can to keep us safe. John Brennan seems to have moved up to the pole position with Dennis Blair in the race for forced retirement with the revelation that he was briefed on underwear bombing. Somehow that information didn’t get circulated. The new Newsweek observes: “The briefing for Brennan is among a series of pre-Christmas warnings suggesting that the breakdown in the U.S. intelligence system prior to the Northwest attack may have been worse than has been publicly acknowledged.” So it seems they really weren’t doing everything to keep us safe.

And Napolitano gives the game away when she confesses that “one of the things that may come out of this awful day is perhaps a renewed sense of urgency.” But didn’t she just tell us that they were doing everything they.  . . Oh never mind. And she really doesn’t know how all this happened: “I want to know how this individual got on this plane with this material. I want to know so we can figure out what we should be doing to defeat that.” It might have something to do with the fact that the Obami weren’t doing everything to keep us safe.

But you really do have to marvel at Napolitano‘s not very subtle shifting of responsibility for travel security from the government to the public. One supposes that when you check in you’ll be getting a seat assignment and terrorist look-out shift. (No sleeping between noon and 2pm in Row 26!) Now, on one hand, this is at least a candid recognition that the passengers are the only participants of our security system who seem to be on the ball. But how exactly does this jibe with the unending series of petty, annoying, and downright stupid rules that serve to frustrate only innocent passengers doing their best to patrol the skies? Nothing in your lap for the last hour of flights? No one in their right mind can believe this poses some “defense” against terrorists. (Suffice it to say that even the dimmest terrorist can explode his underwear with 62 minutes to go on the flight.) Do they want to empower us, give us responsibility for our own defense, and restore confidence in our air security? Then stop frisking toddlers and help the public keep an eye on those individuals most likely to set their drawers on fire. And most of all, please just tell Napolitano to be quiet.

In her pull-in-as-many-favors-with-media-elites-to-save-her-skin campaign, Janet Napolitano tells Maureen Dowd that you need to do your job:

“I think we do a disservice if we tell people there are 100 percent guarantees. I think we tell them we’re doing everything we can to reduce risk. I think we tell people that they are also part of the system. I mean, the passengers on this plane were a line of defense, the flight crew were a line of defense. So everybody has a shared responsibility here. You can’t just say, well, this government department or that government department’s got the whole shebang.”

Okay, does no one tell her to just stop talking?  Really, none of this is helping. For starters, I think after last week the majority of Americans don’t believe that the Obami are doing everything they can to keep us safe. John Brennan seems to have moved up to the pole position with Dennis Blair in the race for forced retirement with the revelation that he was briefed on underwear bombing. Somehow that information didn’t get circulated. The new Newsweek observes: “The briefing for Brennan is among a series of pre-Christmas warnings suggesting that the breakdown in the U.S. intelligence system prior to the Northwest attack may have been worse than has been publicly acknowledged.” So it seems they really weren’t doing everything to keep us safe.

And Napolitano gives the game away when she confesses that “one of the things that may come out of this awful day is perhaps a renewed sense of urgency.” But didn’t she just tell us that they were doing everything they.  . . Oh never mind. And she really doesn’t know how all this happened: “I want to know how this individual got on this plane with this material. I want to know so we can figure out what we should be doing to defeat that.” It might have something to do with the fact that the Obami weren’t doing everything to keep us safe.

But you really do have to marvel at Napolitano‘s not very subtle shifting of responsibility for travel security from the government to the public. One supposes that when you check in you’ll be getting a seat assignment and terrorist look-out shift. (No sleeping between noon and 2pm in Row 26!) Now, on one hand, this is at least a candid recognition that the passengers are the only participants of our security system who seem to be on the ball. But how exactly does this jibe with the unending series of petty, annoying, and downright stupid rules that serve to frustrate only innocent passengers doing their best to patrol the skies? Nothing in your lap for the last hour of flights? No one in their right mind can believe this poses some “defense” against terrorists. (Suffice it to say that even the dimmest terrorist can explode his underwear with 62 minutes to go on the flight.) Do they want to empower us, give us responsibility for our own defense, and restore confidence in our air security? Then stop frisking toddlers and help the public keep an eye on those individuals most likely to set their drawers on fire. And most of all, please just tell Napolitano to be quiet.

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Parliamentary Victory in Afghanistan

Critics of the war effort in Afghanistan suggest that our troops are doing nothing but supporting a corrupt regime personified by Hamid Karzai. The reality is considerably more complex. It’s true that Karzai is the president but he is only the top figure in a government structure that includes cabinet ministers, governors, and lots of other officials, including, lest we forget, an elected Parliament. That Parliament has now displayed its independence by rejecting 17 of 24 cabinet ministers nominated by the president.

Those who were ratified were the most competent ministers with the longest record of service; those who were rejected tended to be warlords and political hacks. With this vote, the Parliament displays good judgment and reminds us that Afghanistan is not ruled solely by one flawed man. There is a functioning democracy in place, however imperfect. It is very much to Afghanistan’s credit that it has some checks and balances in place on the man at the top. It is impossible to imagine a Taliban regime subjecting its choices to approval by a Parliament and seeing some of them disapproved. The Taliban, after all, claim to speak in the name of god and have no qualms about violently eradicating those with dissenting opinions. Thus this parliamentary action serves as a useful reminder that the government we are fighting to safeguard is immeasurably more liberal and civilized than that which would replace it were we to leave prematurely.

Critics of the war effort in Afghanistan suggest that our troops are doing nothing but supporting a corrupt regime personified by Hamid Karzai. The reality is considerably more complex. It’s true that Karzai is the president but he is only the top figure in a government structure that includes cabinet ministers, governors, and lots of other officials, including, lest we forget, an elected Parliament. That Parliament has now displayed its independence by rejecting 17 of 24 cabinet ministers nominated by the president.

Those who were ratified were the most competent ministers with the longest record of service; those who were rejected tended to be warlords and political hacks. With this vote, the Parliament displays good judgment and reminds us that Afghanistan is not ruled solely by one flawed man. There is a functioning democracy in place, however imperfect. It is very much to Afghanistan’s credit that it has some checks and balances in place on the man at the top. It is impossible to imagine a Taliban regime subjecting its choices to approval by a Parliament and seeing some of them disapproved. The Taliban, after all, claim to speak in the name of god and have no qualms about violently eradicating those with dissenting opinions. Thus this parliamentary action serves as a useful reminder that the government we are fighting to safeguard is immeasurably more liberal and civilized than that which would replace it were we to leave prematurely.

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The Supreme Court Watch

There is good reason to believe that one or more Supreme Court justices will step down in 2010. The rumors have swirled for some time that Justice Stevens will retire. Moreover, it seems increasingly likely that the Democrats may lose Senate seats, dropping their ranks below the filibuster-proof 60. That makes post-2010 Supreme Court confirmation fights a bit trickier and reduces the chances of a hard-core liberal activist making it to the Court after the 2010 elections. So if the liberal/activist justices are thinking of retirement in the next few years, 2010 is the time to do it.

Obama made a political calculation with Sonia Sotomayor that the benefits of a “wise Latina” outweighed the long term benefits of having a top-flight liberal intellectual on the Court, who might go toe-to-toe with the conservative heavyweights (and have the ability from time to time to corral the mercurial Justice Anthony Kennedy). That calculation made some sense if one supposes Sotomayor would not be Obama’s only appointment.

In some respects the Sotomayor confirmation hearing was a boon to conservative jurists and scholars. As Ed Whelan notes, despite Obama’s attempt to elevate “empathy,” and a filibuster-proof Democratic majority, judicial activists came away disappointed “as Sotomayor, in close consultation with the White House, tried to disguise herself as a judicial conservative. ‘The task of a judge is not to make law, it is to apply the law,’ she averred. Judges are ‘like umpires,’ she said. She pretended to walk away from her support for freewheeling resort to foreign and international legal materials. And, perhaps most strikingly, she emphatically repudiated Obama’s own empathy standard.” What’s more, liberals grudgingly figured out that Jeffrey Rosen was right — they could have come up with a better nominee.

In 2010 Obama might go for a top-flight nominee with impeccable credentials and a willingness to be candid about his or her judicial philosophy. But the temptation is great, especially as Obama’s ratings are sinking and his Democratic colleagues are floundering in the polls, to once again play the political angle. Recall that with this crowd everything is political — the Afghanistan war strategy, the census, and especially the Justice Department. So the political consiglieres may well be pushing for a minority-group nominee (haven’t Asians been drifting toward the Republican camp?) or a charismatic figure around whom to rally as they seek to paint the Republicans as the grouchy, bad guys. Find someone who will be good on TV! Play the gender/ethnicity/race card! (Besides, if the Obami are confident in securing a second term, what’s the rush? They’ll have many more years to put boringly competent and intellectually precise people on the Court.)

So it may well be that once again an unexceptional but dependable liberal will get the nod.  But we can, I think, be assured of one thing: David Broder notwithstanding, Janet Napolitano will be off the short list.

There is good reason to believe that one or more Supreme Court justices will step down in 2010. The rumors have swirled for some time that Justice Stevens will retire. Moreover, it seems increasingly likely that the Democrats may lose Senate seats, dropping their ranks below the filibuster-proof 60. That makes post-2010 Supreme Court confirmation fights a bit trickier and reduces the chances of a hard-core liberal activist making it to the Court after the 2010 elections. So if the liberal/activist justices are thinking of retirement in the next few years, 2010 is the time to do it.

Obama made a political calculation with Sonia Sotomayor that the benefits of a “wise Latina” outweighed the long term benefits of having a top-flight liberal intellectual on the Court, who might go toe-to-toe with the conservative heavyweights (and have the ability from time to time to corral the mercurial Justice Anthony Kennedy). That calculation made some sense if one supposes Sotomayor would not be Obama’s only appointment.

In some respects the Sotomayor confirmation hearing was a boon to conservative jurists and scholars. As Ed Whelan notes, despite Obama’s attempt to elevate “empathy,” and a filibuster-proof Democratic majority, judicial activists came away disappointed “as Sotomayor, in close consultation with the White House, tried to disguise herself as a judicial conservative. ‘The task of a judge is not to make law, it is to apply the law,’ she averred. Judges are ‘like umpires,’ she said. She pretended to walk away from her support for freewheeling resort to foreign and international legal materials. And, perhaps most strikingly, she emphatically repudiated Obama’s own empathy standard.” What’s more, liberals grudgingly figured out that Jeffrey Rosen was right — they could have come up with a better nominee.

In 2010 Obama might go for a top-flight nominee with impeccable credentials and a willingness to be candid about his or her judicial philosophy. But the temptation is great, especially as Obama’s ratings are sinking and his Democratic colleagues are floundering in the polls, to once again play the political angle. Recall that with this crowd everything is political — the Afghanistan war strategy, the census, and especially the Justice Department. So the political consiglieres may well be pushing for a minority-group nominee (haven’t Asians been drifting toward the Republican camp?) or a charismatic figure around whom to rally as they seek to paint the Republicans as the grouchy, bad guys. Find someone who will be good on TV! Play the gender/ethnicity/race card! (Besides, if the Obami are confident in securing a second term, what’s the rush? They’ll have many more years to put boringly competent and intellectually precise people on the Court.)

So it may well be that once again an unexceptional but dependable liberal will get the nod.  But we can, I think, be assured of one thing: David Broder notwithstanding, Janet Napolitano will be off the short list.

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Broadening the Playing Field

The biggest political game this year will be estimating the number of Democratic losses in the House and Senate. “According to the Rothenberg Political Report, there are 61 competitive House seats in the country, including 47 Democratic seats and 14 Republican seats. According to CQ-Roll Call, the playing field is wider (102 seats) but similarly proportional (70 Democratic seats and 32 Republican seats).” Republicans are trying to get at least 80 seats in play, thereby substantially increasing their chances of taking back the House (something virtually no one a year ago imagined was a realistic possibility). Rothenberg Political Report explains:

Republicans are still a long way from getting 80 seats into play and recapturing the majority is not yet in sight. But even though Congressional campaign committees can’t create a wave election, strategists can put candidates in place to take advantage of one. On Jan. 17, 2006, there were 42 seats in play, including 31 Republican-held seats and 11 Democratic-held seats, according to the Rothenberg Political Report. As the sentiment continued to shift against Bush and the Republicans, the playing field broadened and tilted further into GOP territory.

That is why with each retirement in their ranks and every party switch, Democrats become increasingly nervous. The broader the playing field, the greater the danger of the House slipping from their control. And then, of course, Democrats might really do themselves in. They might pass a massive tax hike or scare seniors with deep Medicare cuts, for example. Nah — they couldn’t be that politically dense, could they? Oh yes, indeed. In that regard, Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid — in their Ahab-like obsession with snaring a politically toxic health-care bill — are the best allies the GOP has in broadening that playing field.

The biggest political game this year will be estimating the number of Democratic losses in the House and Senate. “According to the Rothenberg Political Report, there are 61 competitive House seats in the country, including 47 Democratic seats and 14 Republican seats. According to CQ-Roll Call, the playing field is wider (102 seats) but similarly proportional (70 Democratic seats and 32 Republican seats).” Republicans are trying to get at least 80 seats in play, thereby substantially increasing their chances of taking back the House (something virtually no one a year ago imagined was a realistic possibility). Rothenberg Political Report explains:

Republicans are still a long way from getting 80 seats into play and recapturing the majority is not yet in sight. But even though Congressional campaign committees can’t create a wave election, strategists can put candidates in place to take advantage of one. On Jan. 17, 2006, there were 42 seats in play, including 31 Republican-held seats and 11 Democratic-held seats, according to the Rothenberg Political Report. As the sentiment continued to shift against Bush and the Republicans, the playing field broadened and tilted further into GOP territory.

That is why with each retirement in their ranks and every party switch, Democrats become increasingly nervous. The broader the playing field, the greater the danger of the House slipping from their control. And then, of course, Democrats might really do themselves in. They might pass a massive tax hike or scare seniors with deep Medicare cuts, for example. Nah — they couldn’t be that politically dense, could they? Oh yes, indeed. In that regard, Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid — in their Ahab-like obsession with snaring a politically toxic health-care bill — are the best allies the GOP has in broadening that playing field.

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Is Reconciliation “Soft”?

Conservative bloggers such as Bill Roggio, Andrew McCarthy, and our own Jennifer Rubin, are understandably irate over news that U.S. forces have released imprisoned terrorist leader Qais Qazali (also spelled Khazali) at the same time that his group, the Asaib al-Haq (AAH), has released British hostage Peter Moore. They see this as another sign of the Obama administration’s weakness in the face of terrorism. “No conceivable justification for this one” reads the headline over Jen’s blog item.

Whether this deal is justified or not remains to be seen, but I do think there is a reasonable justification for it and I don’t see this as evidence of Obama’s supineness in dealing with Iran. (There’s plenty of other evidence to make that case.) The fact is that under the U.S.-Iraq security accord brokered by the Bush administration, our forces’ legal right to hold detainees in Iraq has essentially expired. We have released most of our detainees. We are still holding a few hard-core terrorists at the sufferance of the Iraqi government but even that arrangement will not last long, with U.S. forces drawing down to 50,000 in September and to zero (or close to it) by the end of 2011. While U.S. forces have been moving into an “over-watch” role, Iraqis have stepped forward with a fair extent of success, notwithstanding some high-profile bombings in Baghdad. As General David Petraeus noted at a ceremony in Baghdad marking the inauguration of a new U.S. command, U.S. Forces-Iraq, “insurgent attacks have dropped from more than 200 a day two years ago to approximately 15 a day,” and no U.S. troops were killed in combat in December.

Part of this improvement is attributable to better security operations. But part is also due to a process of reconciliation that has been happening behind the scenes. We all know about the former Sunni insurgents who, as part of the Sons of Iraq, have joined the governmental side in fighting against al-Qaeda in Iraq. They have received amnesty for attacks carried out when they were on the other side. (Some have subsequently been arrested on charges of breaking the law after joining the Sons of Iraq.)

Less well known is the fact that most Shiite insurgents have also laid down their arms, including most of the former Mahdist movement. Moqtada al-Sadr’s decline has led to the establishment of various breakaway factions, including the AAH, which is led by the Qazali brothers, supported by Iran’s Quds Force, and responsible for some gruesome attacks on U.S. forces in the past. The most notorious of them was a well-organized raid on the government center in Karbala in January 2007, which killed five American service members. In the spring of 2009, Laith Qazali was released from custody as part of a provisional arrangement whereby AAH agreed to stop mounting violent attacks. When I was in Iraq in October, I was told by American intelligence analysts that they believed AAH has largely stuck by its word. Hence the turnover of Qais to the Iraqis and his probable release.

All of these deals have been brokered by Prime Minister Maliki with the close oversight of General Ray Odierno, now the U.S. Forces-Iraq commander, and his boss, General Petraeus. They can hardly be accused of being “soft” on terrorism, yet they know that in the end warfare alone will not suffice to end an insurgency. There must be a process of political reconciliation, which involves accommodating even vile figures such as the Qazali brothers, who have American blood on their hands. It is the same realization reached by Lincoln, Churchill, and other great wartime commanders who understood that after the guns fell silent they would have to learn to live with former enemies.

Conservative bloggers such as Bill Roggio, Andrew McCarthy, and our own Jennifer Rubin, are understandably irate over news that U.S. forces have released imprisoned terrorist leader Qais Qazali (also spelled Khazali) at the same time that his group, the Asaib al-Haq (AAH), has released British hostage Peter Moore. They see this as another sign of the Obama administration’s weakness in the face of terrorism. “No conceivable justification for this one” reads the headline over Jen’s blog item.

Whether this deal is justified or not remains to be seen, but I do think there is a reasonable justification for it and I don’t see this as evidence of Obama’s supineness in dealing with Iran. (There’s plenty of other evidence to make that case.) The fact is that under the U.S.-Iraq security accord brokered by the Bush administration, our forces’ legal right to hold detainees in Iraq has essentially expired. We have released most of our detainees. We are still holding a few hard-core terrorists at the sufferance of the Iraqi government but even that arrangement will not last long, with U.S. forces drawing down to 50,000 in September and to zero (or close to it) by the end of 2011. While U.S. forces have been moving into an “over-watch” role, Iraqis have stepped forward with a fair extent of success, notwithstanding some high-profile bombings in Baghdad. As General David Petraeus noted at a ceremony in Baghdad marking the inauguration of a new U.S. command, U.S. Forces-Iraq, “insurgent attacks have dropped from more than 200 a day two years ago to approximately 15 a day,” and no U.S. troops were killed in combat in December.

Part of this improvement is attributable to better security operations. But part is also due to a process of reconciliation that has been happening behind the scenes. We all know about the former Sunni insurgents who, as part of the Sons of Iraq, have joined the governmental side in fighting against al-Qaeda in Iraq. They have received amnesty for attacks carried out when they were on the other side. (Some have subsequently been arrested on charges of breaking the law after joining the Sons of Iraq.)

Less well known is the fact that most Shiite insurgents have also laid down their arms, including most of the former Mahdist movement. Moqtada al-Sadr’s decline has led to the establishment of various breakaway factions, including the AAH, which is led by the Qazali brothers, supported by Iran’s Quds Force, and responsible for some gruesome attacks on U.S. forces in the past. The most notorious of them was a well-organized raid on the government center in Karbala in January 2007, which killed five American service members. In the spring of 2009, Laith Qazali was released from custody as part of a provisional arrangement whereby AAH agreed to stop mounting violent attacks. When I was in Iraq in October, I was told by American intelligence analysts that they believed AAH has largely stuck by its word. Hence the turnover of Qais to the Iraqis and his probable release.

All of these deals have been brokered by Prime Minister Maliki with the close oversight of General Ray Odierno, now the U.S. Forces-Iraq commander, and his boss, General Petraeus. They can hardly be accused of being “soft” on terrorism, yet they know that in the end warfare alone will not suffice to end an insurgency. There must be a process of political reconciliation, which involves accommodating even vile figures such as the Qazali brothers, who have American blood on their hands. It is the same realization reached by Lincoln, Churchill, and other great wartime commanders who understood that after the guns fell silent they would have to learn to live with former enemies.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Because they haven’t beaten this one to death: “To minimize expected losses in next fall’s election, President Barack Obama’s party is testing a line of attack that resurrects George W. Bush as a boogeyman and castigates Republicans as cozy with Wall Street.” I imagine that the GOP will be gleeful if this is the best the Democrats can do.

Kathleen Parker thinks blaming Bush is so 2008: “George W. Bush is officially retired as the fault-guy for the nation’s ills, and Barack Obama owns the game. Whether he wants to or not.”

The CIA is apparently sick of being the fall-guy for the Obami: “‘One day the President is pointing the finger and blaming the intelligence services, saying there is a systemic failure,’ said one agency official. ‘Now we are heroes. The fact is that we are doing everything humanly possible to stay on top of the security situation. The deaths of our operatives shows just how involved we are on the ground.’ But CIA bosses claim they were unfairly blamed at a time the covert government. . .Some CIA officials are angry at being criticised by the White House after Abdulmutallab, 23, was allowed to slip through the security net and board a U.S.-bound flight in Amsterdam despite evidence he was a terror threat.’” And then there is the special prosecutor who is reinvestigating the CIA operatives as well as the decision to take interrogation duties away from them. You can see why they are mad.

Marc Thiessen: “Those who argue that we should not used enhanced techniques even on the KSM’s of the world are effectively arguing from a position of radical pacifism.  They are opposed to coercion no matter what the cost in innocent lives.  We should respect their opinion, they way we respect the right of conscientious objectors to abstain from military service.  But that does not mean we put pacifists in charge of decisions on war and peace.  Same should go for decisions when it comes to interrogation.”

Terrible news: the former Washington Post ombudsperson Deborah Howell, a classy lady, has been killed. R. I. P.

The Obami have apparently convinced themselves that those “crippling sanctions” will make them unpopular with the Iranian people who have been pleading for the U.S. to adopt a policy of regime change: “Sanctions will be a difficult balancing act for the administration, since it acknowledges that three previous rounds of sanctions have failed to deter Iran, and it also wants to avoid angering Iranians protesting in the streets by depriving them of Western goods. That is why the administration is focusing on the Revolutionary Guards, who are increasingly detested by the protesters, and who have built up billions of dollars of business interests in telecommunications, oil and construction.” And we think the Revolutionary Guards can’t figure out how to evade “focused” sanctions? Oy. So many excuses for doing so little. But at least they’ve figured out (when was it exactly?) that the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate was wrong about Iran’s nuclear program.

Remember when liberals used to be funny and artistic? Now they are humorless, while conservatives are the funny and poetic ones.

Marty Peretz notices that liberals are also shy these days: “Joe Klein, who spent a lot of print trying more or less to exonerate Dr. Major Nidal Malik Hasan by dint of his being a nutcase, has been curiously silent about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. In fact, there’s been a certain shyness among the whole left-wing blogosphere (and among Democrats, generally) about the skivvies terrorist. There is no place for these journalists to hide and no logic, however dubious, with which they can transfer the guilt to us. And, believe me, if they can’t invent this, there is nothing to invent—nothing.”

Because they haven’t beaten this one to death: “To minimize expected losses in next fall’s election, President Barack Obama’s party is testing a line of attack that resurrects George W. Bush as a boogeyman and castigates Republicans as cozy with Wall Street.” I imagine that the GOP will be gleeful if this is the best the Democrats can do.

Kathleen Parker thinks blaming Bush is so 2008: “George W. Bush is officially retired as the fault-guy for the nation’s ills, and Barack Obama owns the game. Whether he wants to or not.”

The CIA is apparently sick of being the fall-guy for the Obami: “‘One day the President is pointing the finger and blaming the intelligence services, saying there is a systemic failure,’ said one agency official. ‘Now we are heroes. The fact is that we are doing everything humanly possible to stay on top of the security situation. The deaths of our operatives shows just how involved we are on the ground.’ But CIA bosses claim they were unfairly blamed at a time the covert government. . .Some CIA officials are angry at being criticised by the White House after Abdulmutallab, 23, was allowed to slip through the security net and board a U.S.-bound flight in Amsterdam despite evidence he was a terror threat.’” And then there is the special prosecutor who is reinvestigating the CIA operatives as well as the decision to take interrogation duties away from them. You can see why they are mad.

Marc Thiessen: “Those who argue that we should not used enhanced techniques even on the KSM’s of the world are effectively arguing from a position of radical pacifism.  They are opposed to coercion no matter what the cost in innocent lives.  We should respect their opinion, they way we respect the right of conscientious objectors to abstain from military service.  But that does not mean we put pacifists in charge of decisions on war and peace.  Same should go for decisions when it comes to interrogation.”

Terrible news: the former Washington Post ombudsperson Deborah Howell, a classy lady, has been killed. R. I. P.

The Obami have apparently convinced themselves that those “crippling sanctions” will make them unpopular with the Iranian people who have been pleading for the U.S. to adopt a policy of regime change: “Sanctions will be a difficult balancing act for the administration, since it acknowledges that three previous rounds of sanctions have failed to deter Iran, and it also wants to avoid angering Iranians protesting in the streets by depriving them of Western goods. That is why the administration is focusing on the Revolutionary Guards, who are increasingly detested by the protesters, and who have built up billions of dollars of business interests in telecommunications, oil and construction.” And we think the Revolutionary Guards can’t figure out how to evade “focused” sanctions? Oy. So many excuses for doing so little. But at least they’ve figured out (when was it exactly?) that the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate was wrong about Iran’s nuclear program.

Remember when liberals used to be funny and artistic? Now they are humorless, while conservatives are the funny and poetic ones.

Marty Peretz notices that liberals are also shy these days: “Joe Klein, who spent a lot of print trying more or less to exonerate Dr. Major Nidal Malik Hasan by dint of his being a nutcase, has been curiously silent about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. In fact, there’s been a certain shyness among the whole left-wing blogosphere (and among Democrats, generally) about the skivvies terrorist. There is no place for these journalists to hide and no logic, however dubious, with which they can transfer the guilt to us. And, believe me, if they can’t invent this, there is nothing to invent—nothing.”

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