Clueless Napolitano Now Concedes System 'Failed Miserably'

It took a tough question from Matt Lauer, but after having laughably claimed that "the system worked," DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has now conceded the obvious: that the security system that permitted Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board NWA 253 with explosives "failed miserably."

On Today and in other interviews this morning, Napolitano attempted to use her own ignorance as a shield.  Each time she was hit with a hard question, her response was to the effect "yeah, we're wondering about that ourselves."  She also continued to point the finger back at George Bush, repeatedly mentioning that the security procedures in place were formulated under the Bush administration.  Whatever happened to "change you can believe in"?

But back to Today, where Lauer laudably asked Napolitano the necessary question: how could she possibly have claimed, as she did yesterday, that the "system worked"?

MATT LAUER: You made a comment over the weekend and I want to call attention to that because a lot of people are disagreeing with it this morning.  You talked about this incident aboard this Northwest flight and you said "when it came right down to it, the system worked."  A lot of people don't think the system worked at all, that the only thing that prevented outright disaster was luck.  Can you respond to that?

JANET NAPOLITANO: Sure, I think the comment is being taken out of context. What I'm saying is that once the incident occurred, moving forward, we were immediately able to notify the 128 flights in the air of protective measures to take, immediately able to notify law enforcement on the ground, airports both domestically, internationally, all carriers, all of that happening within 60 to 90 minutes, so --

LAUER: So you're only talking about what happened after this man tried to ignite this explosive device on the plane.


LAUER: You would then concede that the system prior to that, the system that's supposed to prevent something like this from happening, failed miserably?

NAPOLITANO: It did.  And that's why we are asking a lot of the same questions I heard you asking before this interview.  How did this individual get on the plane? Why wasn't the explosive material detected?  What do we need to do to change perhaps the rules that have been in place since 2006 for moving somebody from the generic database to more elevated status.  All of that under review right now.

LAUER: So many man-hours, so much money, Madam Secretary, has gone into securing fliers in this country and around the world, and so let's talk about it: how does a guy who's on this general terror list, who then buys a one-way, trans-Atlantic ticket with cash, checks no luggage, a man whose own father has written a letter to authorities both in his own country and U.S. embassy authorities, saying he's worried that his son has become more radicalized and might attempt some kind of a suicide mission. How is this guy not the perfect candidate for a strip search or a full-body scan?

NAPOLITANO: I've asked the same questions.

We've got another question: what is Janet Napolitano, head of a department that she now admits "failed miserably," still doing in office? 

Note: As part of her "it's Bush's fault" defense, on Morning Joe Napolitano mentioned that young Umar had been issued his US visa "in June, 2008," i.e., during the Bush administration.  OK, but that would have been before his father was frantically trying to alert the Obama admin that his son had apparently turned into a terrorist.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.