Commentary Magazine


Topic: electronic surveillance technology

What Will It Take?

Daniel Henninger writes:

The only good news out of the Fort Hood massacre is that U.S. electronic surveillance technology was able to pick up Major Hasan’s phone calls to an al Qaeda-loving imam in Yemen. The bad news is the people and agencies listening to Hasan didn’t know what to do about it. Other than nothing.

Next week, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) will convene the Homeland Security Committee to find out if someone in the Army or FBI dropped the ball on Hasan. At Ford Hood itself, grief has been turning to anger as news of possible dropped balls has emerged.

Henninger says that this is the price we paid for the bend-over-backward effort to avoid casting aspersions on those with a take-offense-at-everything lobby on their side. He holds out hope that we will get serious about the nature of our enemy and put an end to the ”rancorous confusion about the enemy, the legal standing of the enemy, or the legal status and scope of the methods it wants to use to fight the enemy.” His suggestion: “President Obama should do two things: Call off the CIA investigation. Then call in the guys who didn’t make the right call on Hasan and ask why not. Then, whatever set the bar too high, lower it.”

How likely is that? Obama has been a prime malefactor in fanning confusion about the enemy and the means we will use to defend ourselves. He ran for president on pulling the plug on Iraq, although that was a central battlefield in the war against the same Islamic fundamentalists. Once in office, he not only declared war on the CIA by re-investigating its operatives and disclosing their methods, but he proposed closing Guantanamo and bringing detainees to the U.S. for trial and possible incarceration. In his grand address on health care, he tells the country it’s a shame we have to spend money fighting in Afghanistan. He has excised “war on terror” and “Islamic fundamentalist” from our official lexicon. And he has declared we won’t be using enhanced interrogation techniques to extract any useful information from those who would carry out dozens of Fort Hoods.

The conclusion is inescapable: Obama has embodied the confusion and unseriousness that Henninger identifies. Some might hope that this or that event or crisis will shake the president and bring him to his senses. The obligation to develop a war strategy? That’s not done the trick; in fact, it’s brought out his worst qualities and revealed his faulty instincts. An act of terrorism by a homegrown jihadist? Maybe, but the Obami’s rhetoric suggests that they are still deep in the weeds of confusion and reality avoidance.

The invasion of Afghanistan shocked Jimmy Carter: Ah, the Soviets were aggressive! What will wake up Obama and impress upon him the need to put childish rhetoric and left-wing talking points aside? If the Fort Hood massacre doesn’t, nothing will.

Daniel Henninger writes:

The only good news out of the Fort Hood massacre is that U.S. electronic surveillance technology was able to pick up Major Hasan’s phone calls to an al Qaeda-loving imam in Yemen. The bad news is the people and agencies listening to Hasan didn’t know what to do about it. Other than nothing.

Next week, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) will convene the Homeland Security Committee to find out if someone in the Army or FBI dropped the ball on Hasan. At Ford Hood itself, grief has been turning to anger as news of possible dropped balls has emerged.

Henninger says that this is the price we paid for the bend-over-backward effort to avoid casting aspersions on those with a take-offense-at-everything lobby on their side. He holds out hope that we will get serious about the nature of our enemy and put an end to the ”rancorous confusion about the enemy, the legal standing of the enemy, or the legal status and scope of the methods it wants to use to fight the enemy.” His suggestion: “President Obama should do two things: Call off the CIA investigation. Then call in the guys who didn’t make the right call on Hasan and ask why not. Then, whatever set the bar too high, lower it.”

How likely is that? Obama has been a prime malefactor in fanning confusion about the enemy and the means we will use to defend ourselves. He ran for president on pulling the plug on Iraq, although that was a central battlefield in the war against the same Islamic fundamentalists. Once in office, he not only declared war on the CIA by re-investigating its operatives and disclosing their methods, but he proposed closing Guantanamo and bringing detainees to the U.S. for trial and possible incarceration. In his grand address on health care, he tells the country it’s a shame we have to spend money fighting in Afghanistan. He has excised “war on terror” and “Islamic fundamentalist” from our official lexicon. And he has declared we won’t be using enhanced interrogation techniques to extract any useful information from those who would carry out dozens of Fort Hoods.

The conclusion is inescapable: Obama has embodied the confusion and unseriousness that Henninger identifies. Some might hope that this or that event or crisis will shake the president and bring him to his senses. The obligation to develop a war strategy? That’s not done the trick; in fact, it’s brought out his worst qualities and revealed his faulty instincts. An act of terrorism by a homegrown jihadist? Maybe, but the Obami’s rhetoric suggests that they are still deep in the weeds of confusion and reality avoidance.

The invasion of Afghanistan shocked Jimmy Carter: Ah, the Soviets were aggressive! What will wake up Obama and impress upon him the need to put childish rhetoric and left-wing talking points aside? If the Fort Hood massacre doesn’t, nothing will.

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