In a big speech today, the POTUS cited “unacceptable” failures in the American intelligence system that allowed an accused terrorist to board a U.S.-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day, and promised changes to avert future plots. He also said that officials in some unnamed federal agencies have taken “responsibility for what went wrong” in their operations while avoiding blame for any one individual or department in particular. He said of the slip-ups “That’s not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it,” Obama said. “We have to do better, and we will do better. And we have to do it quickly.”
While placing blame on the Intelligence system, President Obama forgot to mention his role on the error. The truth is our Commander-in-Chief took his eyes off the ball. In fact before the Christmas attack of the Underwear Bomber, the President and his democratic buddies had the National Counter-terrorism Center slated for severe budget cuts. As reported by Mark Ambinder:
The highly touted intelligence fusion center at the heart of the nation’s counterterrorism establishment was preparing for deep budget cuts across 2010, senior intelligence officials said. According to one official, who asked not to be identified because intelligence budget matters are classified, the administration and Congress slashed the budget for the National Counterterrorism Center by at least $25 million. Those affected, the official said, included employees responsible for maintaining the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) system, which contains the list of about 550,000 known or suspected terrorists.
TIDE contains highly classified information provided by the entire intelligence community. Each day, what the NCTC calls an “unclassified extract” is forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Terrorist Screening Center, which in turn sends it to the Transportation Security Agency, the State Department’s Visa and Passport Database, the Customs and Border Patrol’s entry database, and the National Crime and Information Center (NCIC.)
Both the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, and the head of the NCTC, Mike Leiter, pressed to have the funding restored well before the Christmas Day attack exposed potential problems.
“Without question, recent events will cause those proposals to be re-considered,” an intelligence official said.
In a statement last week, Leiter said that NCTC’s “most sacred responsibility is to be focused on our mission — detecting and preventing terrorist attacks from happening on our soil and against US interests,” Leiter said.
These projected cuts had nothing to do with the reasons the Underwear Bomber was allowed to almost blow up a plane. But the President’s lax attitude regarding the defense of America, that motivated him to make cuts in the National Counter-terrorism Center budget, had everything to do with the Underwear Bomber. Protecting American Citizens from terrorism is not a priority to the POTUS, and his budgets are all the proof you need.