Friday, January 08, 2010

Obama Responds

So in the case of 'underwear bomber' over Christmas of 2009 it seems that it was not a failure of any 'identifiable' person. Otherwise what President Obama wanted to indicate in his yesterday's speech that he would have fired that person. President says it was a 'systematic failure' rather.

It is possible that one cannot locate any single person or group of persons responsible for dropping the ball in this episode. When that is the case, to insist that President Obama fires some body for the sake of fulfilling public's blood thirst does not make sense. Since President Obama made it amply clear that he holds his Administration Leaders and Intelligence folks accountable, he holds himself responsible and that he said so publicly and he has instituted some mechanism to hold folks accountable on ongoing basis; all that can provide some relief to American people. It will buy some time for Obama Administration.

His speech once again showed his 'core' power - articulation, clarity and moral compass in reasonable shape. I suspect though not fully satisfied, Americans will grant one more chance to this Administration.

What do we make of all the Administration changes President talked about? It is 'wait and watch' approach. Proof of the pudding will be in eating and hence Americans will be patiently observing how things work out in months to come.

Clearly this White House is Politically alert even if on back foot. President laid down chain of accountability forcefully and publicly, leading up to himself, and he was very explicit in characterizing these acts as 'America at war' (which would pacify Conservatives and Independents to some extent).

However, he went beyond all that. Tom Friedman has been arguing for long that Muslims themselves need to condemn senseless violence of Islamic Fundamentalists of Al Qeda type and he has been in a way suggesting that American Leadership shows the courage in 'calling Muslim Leadership' for their coy behavior. President Obama went to that well today when he said that America will make efforts to proactively make it clear to Muslim Societies that 'nihilism' of Al Qeda is not going to take them anywhere. Pretty soon, it is clear that President Obama would not hesitate in crossing the line and start holding leadership of those Muslim countries responsible if they do not actively speak against such Islamic Fundamentalists and their violence.

One hopes that Obama Administration not only remains politically alert but also executes on these promised changes. Eight years after 9/11, America has failed to pull off some basic stuff in preparedness:
- like a single Database of potential terrorists which can uniformly inform all involved parties to do their job effectively,
- a single throttle point which determines leads to follow along with an ownership layout for that case and
- finally end to end tracking of all identified leads along with information about actions taken which would also make it easy to enforce accountability.

This is all shameful and it needs to be rectified as soon as possible.

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