Today, The Washington Post is reporting an exchange between President Obama and journalist/author Bob Woodward. The President is quoted as saying that “we can absorb a terrorist attack.”
The President’s job is first and foremost to protect national security and American lives. Saying that we could “absorb” an attack does not mean that we want to absorb one. Americans want to be successful in the war on terror. Setting us up for defeat is far from a winning strategy.
This statement—which embodies the President’s handling of terrorism as a law enforcement concern—raises serious questions about the Administration’s ability to fight terrorism. The effects of not treating this war as a war can be seen in the recent Christmas Day and Times Square bomb plots. Both were near misses by a known enemy, from a known terrorist network, through a known tactic. The federal apparatus in both cases failed to connect dots.
Lowering expectations is poor leadership. Given that we have foiled 31 plots since 9/11, we can be successful, but it takes a White House that sees fighting terrorism as a 24/7/365 job.