WDEL Blog: Rick Jensen's World Famous Thirsty Thursday Blog
Saturday, January 2, 2010
"Yes, Obama, there is an Al Qaeda."
After much dithering, President Obama currently believes that the FBI, NSA, CIA and other intelligence agencies might be telling the truth that a group known as "Al Qaeda" truly exists, is organized and had something to do with the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day. While meditating on intelligence reports rudely set upon him at Hawaiian beaches and golf courses, the President reportedly played all of this in a "low key" manner (AP, NY Times, Washington Post). The New York Times now reports that President Obama has apparently been mugged by reality while those naughty Republicans insist he take the threat of terror seriously. It seems the whole idea of a terrorist attack is considered "politics of fear" by the left and their friends in the media, which I suppose is why Obama asks people to stop questioning his incompetence at the end of this NY Times story. My last comment: The President says, “Instead of succumbing to partisanship and division, let’s summon the unity that this moment demands. Let’s work together, with a seriousness of purpose, to do what must be done to keep our country safe.” If he means that, then he needs to fire the hyper-partisan ineptocrat Janet Napolitano. Then, he can return to posing with "leg tingling" journalists with martini and cigarette in hand.
HONOLULU, Hawaii — President Obama declared for the first time on Saturday that a branch of Al Qaeda based in Yemen sponsored the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an American passenger jet, and he vowed that those behind the failed attack “will be held to account.”
Skip to next paragraph
The latest on President Obama, his administration and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion.
* More Politics News
In his first radio and Internet address of the new year, Mr. Obama also rebutted attacks by former Vice President Dick Cheney and other Republicans who since the incident have accused him of not recognizing that the struggle against terrorists is a war. Mr. Obama said he was well aware that “our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.”
The president’s speech, taped from Hawaii where he is nearing the end of a 10-day holiday vacation, was the third time he has publicly addressed the failed attack on Northwest Flight 253 bound for Detroit on Dec. 25. Mr. Obama noted that he has received preliminary reports about the incident but gave no more details about how a Nigerian man with known radical views was allowed to board a flight to the United States with explosives in his underwear.
Mr. Obama’s comments about the involvement of Al Qaeda, however, were the most direct to date by the highest reaches of the American government. Administration officials and intelligence analysts previously had said they were increasingly confident that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemeni branch calls itself, was involved, as it claimed.
But the president until now had shied away from referencing that until analysts were further along in their assessment of the group’s activities and its ties to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged with attempting to blow up the airliner.
“We’re learning more about the suspect,” Mr. Obama said in the Saturday address. “We know that he traveled to Yemen, a country grappling with crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies. It appears that he joined an affiliate of Al Qaeda and that this group, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America.”
Mr. Obama’s comments indicated that he and the government largely accept the accounts offered by Mr. Abdulmutallab since he was taken into custody and by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in a statement on the Web. The National Security Agency had intercepted communications among leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula months ago talking about an unnamed Nigerian preparing to attack, but the government never correlated that with information about Mr. Abdulmutallab’s radicalization collected by embassy officials in Nigeria from the suspect’s own father.
Mr. Abdulmutallab had studied Arabic in Yemen in 2004-05 before going to school in London and becoming increasingly devout in his Muslim views. He returned to Yemen in early August, according to the Yemeni government, and reenrolled in an Arabic school there, remaining in the country until early December. Some officials in the United States and Yemen suspect the school enrollment was a cover to train with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Mr. Obama noted that this was not the first time the group has tried to attack America and its friends. “In recent years, they have bombed Yemeni government facilities and Western hotels, restaurants and embassies, including our embassy in 2008, killing one American,” he said. “So as president, I’ve made it a priority to strengthen our partnership with the Yemeni government.”
He said those efforts had already led to strikes against the group’s leaders and training camps. “And all those involved in the attempted act of terrorism on Christmas must know, you too will be held to account,” he said.
The president also used the address to implicitly deflect Republican critics and to explicitly call for an end to the partisan recriminations that have erupted since the Christmas Day plot. Although he did not name Mr. Cheney, Mr. Obama was clearly responding to the former vice president’s assertion that the president is “trying to pretend we are not at war.”
Republicans have blamed some of his policy changes for weakening the struggle against terrorism. On Friday, for instance, Senator Jon Ensign of Nevada, a Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, pointed to Mr. Obama’s decision when he took office to ban especially harsh methods of interrogation that he deemed torture, like waterboarding, a form of near drowning.
“We are in a war against radical Islam,” Mr. Ensign said on CNN. “We have to understand that. And we have to use all of the tools necessary — interrogation. We have to use all of our intelligence tools. We have to use our military, everything we can do, along with homeland security to keep our country safe.”
Mr. Obama noted that he used the term “war” in his inaugural speech on his first day in office. “On that day, I also made it very clear, our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred, and that we will do whatever it takes to defeat them and defend our country, even as we uphold the values that have always distinguished America among nations,” he said. “And make no mistake, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.”
Mr. Obama defended his policies as tough but reasonable, and called for an end to the sniping that both parties have engaged in since the Christmas episode. “As we go forward, let us remember this — our adversaries are those who would attack our country, not our fellow Americans, not each other,” Mr. Obama said.
He added: “Instead of succumbing to partisanship and division, let’s summon the unity that this moment demands. Let’s work together, with a seriousness of purpose, to do what must be done to keep our country safe.”
Posted at 10:43am on January 2, 2010 by Rick Jensen
Add your comment: Attention: In an attempt to promote a level of civility and personal
responsibility in blog discussions, we now require you to be a member of
the WDEL Members Only Group in order to post a comment. Your Members
Only Group username and password are required to process your post.
You can join the WDEL Members Only Group for free by clicking here.
If you are already a member but have forgotten your username or password, please
Please register your post with your WDEL Members Only Group username and password below.