Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The shilling goes on and on.

Chris Cillizza went on Hardball on December 28 and claimed (video below, relevant portion beginning at approximately 1:30)

Well, what you always have to remember, Chris, is members of Cogresss have been there a long time; they value the institution. They think they have as much to do with the bill as the President does and of course always important to remember, the political connection- this is ultimately about them surviving the next election.

Now he tells us. We have had months of hearing, ad nauseum, from the mainstream media that a) President Obama is much more popular than Congress (specifically, Democratic members of Congress and b) the fate of Democratic members of Congress is tied to that of the President and thus Democrats must vote for the health care bill before them. And now we have a pundit "explaining" that, well, Democratic congresmen/women really are free agents- and selfish at that- because, after all, the President is almost a lame duck ("this is ultimately about them surviving the next election"). And on top of that, they're almost delusional: they "think" they have as much to do with the bill as the President does.

But that's nothing compared to Eleanor Holmes Norton. The District of Columbia Delegate appeared on the same broadcast, with her fellow member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Republican Dan Lundgren of California, to talk about the federal government's response to the recent failed terrorist plot aboard an airplane headed for Detroit. After Norton asserted (at approximately 4:20 of the video way below), accurately, "now, the President did the right thing," she ignorantly maintained "when you get some body on televison saying everything went well." Matthews then cut her off to play a grossly edited version ("that dreadful comment," he remarked) of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on CNN's State of the Union, where on Sunday the latter actually explained

And one thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated.

So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly.

Referring to the reaction of the American people (as she obviously would have it), Norton then contended

When you look like you're spinning the truth, they really turn away from you. She really did the President a disservice when she said that.

Or, Napolitano really would have done the President a disservice if she actually had said that- rather than the bland, benign remark she did make.

Not only did the guest from D.C. (and Matthews) twist obscenly what Norton's "good friend" (beltway for "that jackass") said, it apparently wasn't even appreciated by President Obama, who in his statement Monday, saw fit, graciously and appropriately, not to imply any criticism of the Homeland Security Secretary. Further, his actions belie whatever worry that Norton ascribes to him over the thwarted attack. Politico helpfully reports

President Barack Obama promised a “thorough review” of the government’s terrorist watch list system after a Nigerian man reported to U.S. government officials by his father to have radicalized and gone missing last month was allowed to board a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit that he later allegedly tried to blow up without any additional security screening.

Yet the individual Obama has chosen to lead the review, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, served for 35 years in the CIA, helped design the current watch list system and served as interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center, whose role is under review.

In the three years before joining the Obama administration, Brennan was president and CEO of The Analysis Corp., an intelligence contracting firm that worked closely with the National Counterterrorism Center and other U.S. government intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security agencies on developing terrorism watch lists.

“Each and every day, TAC makes important contributions in the counterterrorism (CT) and national security realm by supporting national watchlisting activities as well as other CT requirements,” the company’s website states.

According to financial disclosures forms released by the White House, Brennan served as president and CEO of TAC from November 2005 until January 2009, when Obama named him to the White House terrorism and homeland security job. The disclosures show that Brennan reported earning a $783,000 annual salary from The Analysis Corp. in 2008.

The forms also show that Brennan sat on the board of directors for TAC’s parent company, Global Strategic Group, from August 2007 until January 2009. Brennan’s ties to the system he is now charged with reviewing could raise questions about the independence of Obama’s review. One former senior intelligence official told POLITICO it is “unsavory to see Obama put Brennan in charge of a review of this matter, since it is possible that NCTC or TAC could have failed in their responsibilities.”

Brennan will have to labor mightily to divert attention from the agency he once headed, inasmuch as

These concerns landed Abdulmutallab among the about 550,000 names in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database, known as TIDE, which is maintained by the NCTC. Other, smaller lists trigger additional airport screening or other restrictions, but intelligence officials said there wasn't enough information to move Abdulmutallab into those categories.

The NCTC, which has responsibility if any visas are to be pulled over terrorism concerns, then reviewed the information and found it was "insufficient to determine whether his visa should be revoked," Kelly said.

Give the White House some credit: it is smart enought to know a conflict of interest when they see it- just not ethical enough to care. Politico continues:

Senior administration officials said that for the past few days, the White House’s legal and ethics counsel has been reviewing Brennan’s ties and determined that given Brennan’s knowledge of and experience with the intelligence community, any conflict was outweighed by the need for Brennan’s expertise on the issue....

The White House has posted a blog item written by Norm Eisen, special counsel for ethics and government reform, noting the ethics waiver for Brennan and explaining why Obama believes he is the right person to head this review and how its legal counsel determined that it was in the public’s interest.

Defend a guy if you wish; run interference for him at every opportunity. But when that official- in this case, the President of the United States- himself is practically telling you that he is planning to whitewash a terrorist attack, it is foolish to accuse his subordinate of failing to take that incident seriously.

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