In the wake of would-be terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt to bomb Northwest Flight 253 last week, what I find most disturbing is the collective urge to rush to judgment. Instead of thinking rationally about how to prevent the next attack, many Americans seem more concerned with finding someone, anyone, to blame for the egregious security breach that occurred on Christmas day.
There have been many calls for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to fall on her sword and resign, based largely on her assertion on CNN last Sunday that, “the system worked.”
While that ill-advised statement is obviously false, as Napolitano herself later acknowledged, firing her will not make us any safer. Especially since, as counter-terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke noted on ABC’s Good Morning America earlier today, Homeland Security wasn’t even responsible for the oversight.
According to Clarke, who served under four presidents both Republican and Democrat, the responsibility lies with the intelligence community, specifically the CIA, who never passed the relevant information along to DHS. So, while Napolitano’s dismissal might make some of us (especially those on the Right) feel better, it would accomplish absolutely nothing.
A much more reasonable approach would be to come together as a nation and support our President as he leads the effort to find out what went wrong on Christmas day and fix the problem(s). That being said, I’m not suggesting that we let anyone off the hook. On the contrary, we must make sure our government lives up to its responsibility to keep us safe. But giving in to reactionary impulses and calling for “heads to roll” before all of the facts are in won’t accomplish that goal.