Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Terrorism as a Spectator Sport

With the approach of Super Bowl Sunday, talking heads are out on TV to handicap and cash in politically on the biggest game of all--a terror attack on American soil.

The latest skirmish pits Sen. Kit Bond, ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, against White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who took exception to Bond's flogging the notion that release of information that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is cooperating with questioners "has no doubt been helpful” to his “terrorist cohorts around the world.”

The White House is underscoring Bond's desperation to find political profit in the terror threat, at first objecting to "Mirandizing" the would-be Christmas bomber from providing leads and then switching to criticism of news that he is doing so, a fact that Gibbs points out was revealed at the Senate Intelligence Committee's public hearing earlier this week.

This squabbling reflects the ugly undertone of using primal fears as just another political weapon to tear down the President as "tone-deaf" to terrorism, reducing the most complicated issue of national security to a counterpart of the nonsense of claims that he wants "a government takeover" of health care.

Gibbs says that Bond "owes an apology to the professionals in the law enforcement community and those that work in this building, not for Democrats and Republicans, but who work each and every day to keep the American people safe and would never ever, ever knowingly release or unknowingly release classified information that could endanger an operation or an interrogation."

That apology should go further and include Americans of all political persuasions who understand the complexity of terrorism and don't want to see tinhorn politicians playing games with their deepest fears.

Update: Putting it another way, Peggy Noonan warns: "Both our political parties continue, even though they know they shouldn't, even though they're each composed of individuals many of whom actually know what time it is, even though they know we are in an extraordinary if extended moment, an ongoing calamity connected to our economic future, our nation's standing in the world, our strength and our safety—-even though they know all this, they continue to go through the daily motions...Our political professionals cheapen everything they touch because they are burying themselves in daily urgencies in order to dodge and avoid the big picture."


Media Mentions said...

More than that, apparently it's also used as a political tool, in the rawest sense of the word:

Then again, it's the post, so I'll leave it to your better judgment too.


John Freeland said...

"...they are burying themselves in daily urgencies in order to dodge and avoid the big picture."

Yes, but it's even more than that. The Republicans are committed to destroying the Obama presidency, regardless of the broader consequences.