Something big is happening. Big enough to alarm the White House. So big that the administration did an abrupt about-face regarding terrorism.
Terrorism’s serious now — driving major policy reversals. The administration just won’t tell us why.
A week ago, failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad wasn’t even a Muslim, but a 40-something white male and, as Mayor Bloomberg insisted, probably an opponent of ObamaCare.
Then, after Shahzad’s apprehension, we were told that he was just another “one-off” in the tradition of Islamist terrorists who aren’t really Islamist terrorists at all, but distraught homeowners unable to meet mortgage payments or victims of our prejudice (such as Maj. Nidal Hassan, the traitor and butcher of Fort Hood).
Even generals who knew better lined up to deny that Shahzad was part of a terror network.
Then wham! Over the weekend, the Obama administration unleashed a reverse-course media offensive — deploying Attorney General Eric Holder, terror czar John Brennan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and plentiful back-channel messages from staffers.
Instead of Shahzad being a one-off, Brennan tied him to the Pakistani Taliban and stressed to TV viewers that there are dangers we’re “taking very seriously.”
Clinton and others warned Pakistan that it must crack down on militant strongholds in North Waziristan, hinting that Islamabad’s failure to do so might lead to direct US intervention in Cambodia (uh, sorry, that’s Pakistan).
But the administration’s biggest policy reversal to date came from Holder, the longtime advocate of terrorist “rights,” who offered one of the most belated acknowledgments in history when he told a TV network, “We’re now dealing with international terrorism.”
Holder, of all people, now wants Congress to change the rules for Miranda rights, giving the government more time under a “public-safety exception” to permit extended questioning of terrorist suspects before arming them with lawyers.
And there wasn’t a single mention of “man-caused disasters” this time around. Every administration point person talked “terrorism.” Next thing you know, somebody in the White House will use the term “Islamist terrorist.”
So what does this startling policy shift mean for you?
First, the administration has plainly realized that the terror danger is much higher than it believed one week ago.
Second, it means that Shahzad really has been talking — almost certainly tipping us that there are more America-bound terror trainees out there (or already here) and letting us fit together important pieces of the intelligence puzzle.
Third, the White House obviously fears more terror attacks sooner rather than later.
This sudden policy shift and media mobilization by an administration that’s usually lethargic on security issues means that folks at the top are worried about the political costs of a successful terrorist strike.
For all the backslapping over how quickly we nabbed Shahzad after the failed attack (a combination of superb police work and dumb luck), it seems at last to have dawned on the administration that, for all his technical ineptitude, Shahzad came very, very close to killing and wounding hundreds of Americans at a location symbolic of our country.
Had Shahzad been a suicide bomber willing to stay in that SUV, the outcome could have been painfully different.
To be fair, the administration probably doesn’t want to give us more details because of intelligence concerns (and embarrassment that it’s been asleep at the wheel). It also doesn’t want to generate panic. Or drive down the stock market yet again.
And the weekend full-court press in the media — speaking bluntly about terror networks, possible intervention in Pakistan and modifying Miranda rights — sends the encouraging signal that this White House may be capable of learning, after all.
Since Inauguration Day, reality denial has been an integral part of this administration’s culture. But reality’s a persistent intruder. For reasons we don’t yet know in detail, the failed Times Square bombing appears to have brought the White House at least part way to its senses.
Some revelation about the terrorist threat has shocked the president. It’s about time. ExileStreet
courtesy NY Post / copyright 2010 NY Post
Ralph Peters’ latest book is “Endless War: Middle Eastern Islam vs. Western Civilization” His most recent novel is “The War After Armageddon,” is on the street. His most most recent non-fiction book is “Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World.” He is Fox News’ strategic analyst.
Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books, as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist for the New York Post and other publications.