Rachel Maddow Blames Clerical Error for Near Disaster on Flight 253

When it comes to protecting Americans from al Qaeda, "the buck stops here," President Obama proclaims.

Obama's apologists in the media are finding that too close for comfort.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, for example, offered this novel analysis on the underlying cause of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab nearly bringing down Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit --

MADDOW: Moments after the president was done speaking, his administration's official review of what went wrong was released. Now much of what's in this report we've known for days. The information was available. We had it but the analysis wasn't done, the dots weren't connected. It was a broad failure of the counter-terrorism system but the system itself is not fundamentally broken.

What the review points to is 'a series of human errors' and while this detail is not included in the report specifically, NBC News has learned tonight of a startlingly small human error that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board that US-bound plane on Christmas Day. A senior State Department official is telling NBC News tonight that a simple, very simple misspelling of Abdulmutallab's name was the reason no one realized he had a visa to enter the United States, which should have sent alarm bells ringing.

According to this official, one letter was dropped from Mr. Abdulmutallab's name when an employee cross-checked his name against a government database. Now this happened back on Nov. 20. Had Mr. Abdulmutallab's name been entered correctly, officials apparently would have seen that he was classified as a possible terrorist and then the fact that he also had a visa to enter the United States would have kicked him over into what they call a 3B classification. A 3B classification would have kept him from boarding the plane. One letter in his name.

Cue the voice of Maxwell Smart ... missed it by that much.

Just as the sinking of the Titanic could be attributed to lookouts in the crow's nest not having binoculars. As opposed to, for example, the commander at the helm not taking a perilous threat more seriously.

Or the JFK assassination being blamed on a scheduling error -- rather than on the unabashed left-winger who pulled the trigger.

More damage control from Maddow followed on Thursday's show as she disparaged Republicans for the audacity of criticizing a wartime president -- something liberals so rarely did with Bush (second part of embedded video, after remarks by Obama) --

OBAMA: Every one of us, every American, every elected official can do our part. Instead of giving in to cynicism and division, let's move forward with the confidence and optimism and unity that defines us as a people. For now is not a time for partisanship, it's a time for citizenship. A time to come together and work together with the seriousness of purpose that our national security demands. 

MADDOW: Turns out not everyone's on board with that. Unless you think coming together in a non-partisan way as citizens and showing a seriousness of purpose about national security means blaming the problem of terrorism on health care reform. Really. An actual politician actually did that today. A United States senator, in fact.

Really, no, a United States senator didn't say that, as a shameless Maddow showed by quoting what Republican John Cornyn of Texas actually said -- "I worry that the president's preoccupation with health care and other domestic issues has distracted him from what should be the fundamental role of our chief executive: keeping our nation and its citizenry safe from harm."

Is Maddow so dishonest to argue that fighting terrorism has been a bigger priority to Obama than his feverish focus on an alleged crisis in health care? To do so is akin to claiming that last summer's angry public forums on health reform were animated by Obama's decision to close Gitmo. Who is she kidding, aside from MSNBC's most ardent viewers? 

More Maddow misdirection from Thursday's show --

MADDOW: Today Republicans from John Cornyn to Michael Steele to Pete the human sieve Hoekstra to John Boehner to Michele Bachmann to Mike Rogers to even little Todd Tiahrt, for crying out loud, all put out statements attacking President Obama on terrorism, within moments of the president's remarks. As I said, John Cornyn's statement used terrorism to argue against health reform. Michael Steele's statement said Obama needs to recognize that terrorism is a threat, because he doesn't?

... Maddow pondered in the form of a question, thereby bolstering Steele's premise.

MADDOW: Pete Hoekstra's statement said he wants more intel released about Fort Hood. This coming from the guy who was too busy campaigning for governor in Michigan to actually attend a congressional briefing on Fort Hood.

 ... while it remains unclear whether Maddow wants more or less intel released about Fort Hood, but seeing how she's so busy flacking for Obama, I'd venture to say it's the latter. The only time Maddow mentions Fort Hood anymore is after Hoekstra does.

MADDOW: John Boehner's statement said the administration has reverted to a pre-9/11 mentality as evidenced by the Obama administration trying the underpants bomber in civilian court. Just like the Bush administration did after 9/11.

... an allusion to shoebomber Richard Reid being tried in civilian court. But as the Wall Street Journal pointed out in its lead editorial Jan. 6, "Reid was captured only months after 9/11 when the system of military commissions wasn't in place," a distinction lost on Maddow.

MADDOW: Michele Bachmann's statement said something I'm sorry to say was incomprehensible about lawyering up ...

... but why risk elaborating further when Maddow can gratuitously disparage a GOP rising star?

MADDOW: Mike Roger's statement said the Obama administration isn't committed to defeating terrorism and little Todd Tiahrt put out a statement saying Janet Napolitano should resign and it was God that stopped the underpants bomber. No really, he said it was God who stopped the underpants bomber. And I'm quoting, 'Were it not for an act of God, hundreds of lives would have been lost and our nation paralyzed. The time has come for Secretary Napolitano to immediately resign.'
Did you notice that there were no ellipses there? That's just, that's the way it went, that statement. That's really what he said. Janet Napolitano should resign and God gets a medal.

... how dare Tiahrt make such a concise, unambiguous statement, to say nothing of publicly invoking a deity other than Allah ... smite him!

MADDOW: You know, it's not like there were a ton of really rational responses from the Republican Party that I ignored in order to come up with this little compilation. This was pretty much the response from the opposition party today to the president's announcement on terrorism. This is what they've got to offer -- God did it, Obama doesn't want to stop terrorism, when Bush did what Obama's doing I was OK with it, something inexplicable about lawyering up, and can we stop health reform now? That's what they're offering on terrorism.

And Maddow's response to Flight 253? Laughable apologia for Napolitano's "system worked" lunacy. Yes, the system worked nicely -- just ask "Mr." Abdulmutallab.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts