After being attacked by critics in the wake of the thankfully unsuccessful attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight last week, the White House addressed critics head on. Communications director Dan Pfeiffer posted a response—especially towards former Vice President Dick Cheney—on the White House website yesterday saying that President Obama has acknowledged the U.S. is "at war. The difference is this: President Obama doesn’t need to beat his chest to prove it, and - unlike the last Administration - we are not at war with a tactic ('terrorism'), we at war with something that is tangible: al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies. And we will prosecute that war as long as the American people are endangered." Further:
For seven years after 9/11, while our national security was overwhelmingly focused on Iraq — a country that had no Al Qaeda presence before our invasion — Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda's leadership was able to set up camp in the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they continued to plot attacks against the United States. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda also regenerated in places like Yemen and Somalia, establishing new safe havens that have grown over a period of years. It was President Obama who finally implemented a strategy of winding down the war in Iraq and actually focusing our resources on the war against Al Qaeda — more than doubling our troops in Afghanistan and building partnerships to target Al Qaeda’s safe havens in Yemen and Somalia.
You can read his entire statement here. Of course, this does not dismiss the fact that there were intelligence lapses that apparently allowed suspected would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board a plane—after buying a one-way ticket with cash—and allegedly try to set off an explosive hidden in his underwear. Former NJ governor Tom Kean, who co-chaired the 9/11 Commission, told Politico the aftermath was "all too familiar... It’s exactly the language we heard when we were making recommendations for the 9/11 report. That was five years ago. We made our recommendations based on the fact that agencies didn’t share information and it seems to be the case that, once again, they didn’t share information. It’s very discouraging.”
According to the NY Times, Al Qaeda officials in Yemen were discussing a "Nigerian" who would be used for an upcoming attack four months ago, "but American spy agencies later failed to combine the intercepts with other information that might have disrupted last week’s attempted airline bombing." Great! President Obama is set to receive a report on the intelligence failures today.