Does the Obama Administration Deserve Blame for the Attempted Airplane Bombing? It's Fair to Ask.

Politico and Avi Zenilman at WhoRunsGov have been covering the Republican reaction to the Christmas Day alleged attempt to blow up a transatlantic flight before landing in Detroit. Not surprisingly, Republicans, who must recover their "national security party" credentials if they want to regain any national electoral majority, are criticizing the Obama administration for both its terrorism prevention and its response to this most recent incident. Said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee:

"In the past six weeks, you've had the Fort Hood attack, the D.C. Five, and now the attempted attack on the plane in Detroit…and they all underscored the clear philosophical difference between the administration and us."

Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), as is wont, went further, invoking the specter of failed efforts to "appease the terrorists." You can disagree with these assessments, but this much we should all be able to agree on: it is totally fair game to politicize national security and terrorism policy. Sure, it's a life-or-death issue, but so is health care.

The Obama administration however, does not agree. Deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton said, "The president doesn't think we should play politics with issues like these." But playing politics is, well, politics. Liberals can point out that it's hypocritical of Republicans to attack President Obama when conservatives called questioning President Bush's national-security policies—even those that had nothing to do with terrorism, such as the invasion of Iraq—out of bounds. But, since these appear to be bipartisan habits for whoever is in or out of power, that complaint won't take them very far. As Zenilman writes, "Congressional Dems have generally refrained from defending Obama's approach to national security on the merits, and instead are hoping that it will be enough to accuse Republican critics like Rep. Pete King and Rep. Pete Hoekstra of politicizing the debate."

But the merits of these criticisms deserve a serious hearing. Given the spate of recent attacks and attempted attacks, there are apparently some holes in our system for detecting potential terrorists that we ought to try to fill. As Newsweek has been reporting on Declassified, there are issues of information that has been gathered not being shared or used. Whether these shortcomings are the fault of the Obama administration that took over less than a year ago and has been hampered in filling key posts by Senate Republicans, or the fault of the Bush administration, or both, is a different matter. But the Obama administration shouldn't bluster about how it's unfair to voice opinions on these matters.

Does the Obama Administration Deserve Blame for the Attempted Airplane Bombing? It's Fair to Ask. | News