By Rep. Bob Goodlatte
Virginia's 6th Congressional District
On Christmas Day, Umar Abdulmutallab boarded Northwest Flight 253 bound for Detroit and just before landing, attempted to blow up the plane and the 278 passengers aboard. Thanks only to the malfunction of an explosive device and the quick thinking of civilian passengers and crew who subdued him, did this latest act of terrorism not tragically result in a massive loss of life.
By all accounts, the fact that Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian with known ties to terrorism and of known risk to the United States, was able to board a plane with explosives is a gross failure of our homeland security operation and is both alarming and unacceptable.
The attempted bombing on Christmas Day should not be viewed as an isolated event. Rather, it is the latest in a series of recent terrorist events including the Ft. Hood attack perpetrated by a radicalized commissioned officer in the United States Army, killing 14 and wounding 43, and the detention of five Afghan-American and Pakistan-American college students in Pakistan. These alleged terrorists, whether affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen, where Abdulmutallab was radicalized, have a united purpose – to kill Americans and bring fear and harm to our country.
The handling of these recent terrorist events by the Obama Administration demonstrates an alarming lack of understanding of the nature of the threat confronting our nation. President Obama and his advisors have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from the war on terror. They have even eliminated the use of that phrase as well as referred to terrorism as “man-caused disaster.” They have threatened CIA interrogators with prosecution, granted Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a civilian trial in the city he terrorized and then apologized to the rest of the world on behalf of the United States for not adequately protecting the rights of terrorists. Against strong public opinion and sound advice they are proceeding with their plans to close the facility at Guantanamo and bring about 200 terrorists into our country.
Most recent is the Administration’s decision to indict Abdulmutallab on criminal charges rather than labeling him an enemy combatant, detaining him indefinitely, and interrogating him in an effort to obtain information that might prevent the next terror attempt, all of which the Supreme Court has ruled is perfectly legal. However, the Administration prefers to prosecute Abdulmutallab within the criminal justice system where the only leverage to get him to disclose information that could save lives is to plea bargain, offer him a lesser sentence or some other legal deal even though he attempted to kill hundreds of innocent Americans!
Rather than handling these events as simple law enforcement matters, the Administration should call them what they are – terrorism – and treat them as such by taking the actions necessary to ensure the safety of Americans and our homeland. We must not become complacent. We should remain ever vigilant in seeking out and stopping those engaged in a war of terror.