National security is serious business. It involves how our country protects and projects itself abroad. It’s not meant to be about partisan game-playing. It’s supposed to be above the usual political football that takes place in Washington, D.C., but for some the recent bombing attempt on Northwest Flight 253 was just another chance to chastise the President while offering no real solutions (and raise a little extra “fear” funds in the process.)
First you have Sen. Joe Lieberman. Here’s a senator who sits on the Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee, but rather than fight obstructionist Republicans like Jim DeMint who has kept a Transportation Security Agency appointee Lieberman approved from taking his post, he’s busy writing memos with Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain. He’s busy joining in the Republican chorus that is using this incident to not fight for better security, but to spread fear (and bizarrely call for a pre-emptive attack on Yemen).
From The Washington Post:
(White House Senior Adviser David) Axelrod accused Republicans of seeking to exploit last week's attempted bombing and predicted that their effort would fail with the American people. "There are those who want to solve the problem, and there are those who want to exploit it," he said. "This is not the time for politics."
The Republican strategy is further complicated by the fact that the nation's counterterrorism intelligence and security procedures were created after Sept. 11, 2001, by Bush and congressional Republicans. Current watch-list systems were put in place years ago and have not changed. In addition, the former Guantanamo Bay detainees who showed up in the al-Qaeda leadership in Yemen were released by Bush two years ago.
Then you have the likes of Rep. Peter Hoekstra who’s been front and center in criticizing the president and spreading the usual fearmongering over detainees and Gitmo based on the failed actions of one individual. Perhaps it would be easier to swallow his caterwauling if he weren’t also trying to raise campaign funds while doing it.
Meanwhile, Sevugan also criticized Hoekstra for sending out a fundraising e-mail that invoked the Christmas Day bombing attempt. “Raising money off it is beyond the pale,” the DNC spokesman said.
Truscott, Hoekstra’s spokesman, dismissed criticism of his boss’s terrorism-related fundraising appeal as part of an effort by Democrats to undercut his gubernatorial bid.
“This is the hottest issue going right now. Everybody’s talking about it’s the lead story in the news all across the country,” Truscott said. “As a leading national expert on this issue, it’s certainly appropriate to raise this issue as he talks about the leadership he could bring to Michigan.”
It’s a hot issue. So hot that it’s worth cold-hard cash to Hoekstra, demonstrating that this is not about his concern for the public safety or national security, but that Hoekstra sees this as a chance to gin up the base, shake a fearful public and see if any change falls out of their pockets.
This is compounded with the fact that these same critics were silent when Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber, made a similar failed attempt during the Bush-Cheney Administration.
“Four days after Richard Colvin Reid, 28, tried to set fire to his explosives-laden shoes on a trans-Atlantic flight, neither the White House nor other authorities had spoken officially on the alleged would-be suicide bombing,” AFP wrote on Dec. 27, 2001.
Another consequence of blowing up the efforts of one failed bombing attempt is that now many Republicans (and Lieberman) have become "al Qaeda's unwitting hype men," as dubbed so by the Web site The Root in a column written by The American Prospect's Adam Serwer.
From The Root:
It’s hard to imagine that even al-Qaeda thought they would get so much good publicity for a failed attack that resulted in the alleged attacker setting himself on fire and being neutralized by unarmed civilians. The news that Abdulmutallab’s father tried to warn U.S. authorities about his son’s radical intentions suggests that the U.S.’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies are still struggling to find an effective way to sift through the massive amounts of information they collect to determine which threats are real and which aren’t. But Republicans have used the incident to exaggerate the ongoing threat al-Qaeda poses to the United States in order to score points against the administration, and in doing so, have given al-Qaeda the best reaction they could have hoped to get under the circumstances. While the plot itself failed, the GOP was eager to make sure Americans were terrorized anyway.
This post originally appeared on New Security Action. New Security Action is a new organization dedicated to fighting for a progressive, smart national security policy. We are fighting to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.