Homeland Security

Amateur hour is over

First, a jarring new report from the New York Times magazine indicates that there was a very serious and credible threat that a group of Somali terrorists either sought to assassinate Mr. Obama on his Inauguration Day or detonate an explosive during his swearing-in ceremony. The senior national security and counterterrorism teams from the incoming and outgoing administrations worked side by side to foil the plot and protect the president and America’s peaceful transition of power from one individual to the next as chief executive.

With the foiled terrorist attempt on the president’s life as a bit of context, it is inconceivable to me that President Obama hasn’t fired either White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers or Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan over the security lapse that allowed three individuals to pierce the protective veil around him and enter the White House without proper vetting to attend the ceremonies for the state dinner honoring the Indian prime minister. Terrorists sought to kill the president on his first day in office and two reality-TV wannabes and another individual were allowed to talk their way into the White House? The safety of the president’s life is far more important than the hurt feelings of two staff members who literally failed to watch the president’s back. If they can’t properly protect the White House, why should the American people have faith that they can protect us from attack in the days to come?

Veteran Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn noted in her piece yesterday afternoon that there has been a reluctance to fire Desiree Rogers due to the fact that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is mulling a bid to run for mayor of Chicago and doesn’t want to upset the popular and influential Rogers back in their shared hometown. If this is true, they both must go: It is a high privilege and honor to serve the president of the United States. Public service is about serving others, not one’s own personal ambition. If even a whiff of what Ms. Quinn has written about the reluctance to remove Ms. Rogers is true, the president should do her a favor and push her out the door himself.

Next, the president (albeit a week later than he should have) lost his cool yesterday and delivered a blistering assessment of how the various government agencies that were supposed to communicate and coordinate intelligence failed us with regard to the would-be terrorist attack on Christmas Day. That we have had nearly nine years for the intelligence community, the State Department and other agencies to tighten the ring of security for those seeking entry to America and still came this close to a terrorist attack is sobering, if not downright scary. The president must assess the culpability of those responsible for keeping us safe and those who missed warning signs and send them packing.

The time for amateur hour is over. The president and the American people he has sworn an oath to protect demand excellence and competence at this critical time in American history. Those either incapable or too mired in bureaucratic niceties to serve the American people need to go. The stakes are far too high.


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