CBS's Harry Smith to Napolitano: Are We Mentally Prepared for a Successful Terrorist Attack?

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was interviewed on the morning shows of ABC, CBS, and NBC on Monday, but the strangest questioning came from CBS's Harry Smith. In discussing the Times Square car bomb, Smith implied to Napolitano that terrorists were inevitably going to win one of these days, and it was important to prepare the American people for government failure:

SMITH: This has been described as sort of amateurish, almost Rube Goldberg-like. We think about Najibullah Zazi, who was planning a terrorist attack for the subways of New York. Had there been a little more planning; had there been a little more forethought, one of these is going to be successful. Is a successful terrorist attack inevitable in the United States? 

NAPOLITANO: Well, listen, we- every time an event like this occurs, send information out to state, local law enforcement. They are the eyes and ears of the law enforcement community around the country, watching out for abandoned vehicles, or, in this case, as a very alert pedestrian noticed- you know, smoke coming out of a vehicle. Everybody needs to be, and is, a part of the process here of being watchful, of being vigilant. But can we give you a 100% guarantee that one these things might not be successful? No. We can only work as we are to make sure risk is minimized.

SMITH: Because it's interesting: one of the newspapers said it's 11 times that New York has been, at least, the target of an attack since 9/11. Most of these- you know, failed- clearly, failed attempts. But as long as the door gets knocked on enough, it seems like at some point, something's going to happen. Do you think the country is mentally prepared for this?

NAPOLITANO: Oh, I think we have a very strong, mentally prepared country, and I think New York City has one of the most robust law enforcement and security structures of the entire country. And so, yes, we work together to minimize risk, and if one of these attacks were to, in fact, succeed, we would be prepared to respond very quickly.

Since 9/11, the government has obstructed every other terrorist plot. Why should CBS start laying the groundwork for coping with a worst-case scenario? Are they that eager to get started on the Obama damage control before any terror attack succeeds?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis