Ms. Napolitano said Monday on NBC’S “Today” that her remark the day before — “the system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days” — had been taken out of context. “Our system did not work in this instance,” she said. “No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way.”ADDED: Let's read the context. Candy Crowley is interviewing Napolitano on CNN's “State of the Union.” The first question is whether the attack was "part of a larger plot" or whether Abdulmutallab was "a lone wolf." Napolitano dumps her basic canned response — that people should trust the government and feel good about flying:
Well, right now, we have no indication that it’s part of anything larger, but obviously the investigation continues. And we have instituted more screening and what we call mitigation measures at airports. So I would advise you during this heavy holiday season just to arrive a bit early, and to know that we are going to be doing different things at different airports. So don’t expect to do the same thing at one airport when you transfer through to another airport.Crowley forces her back to the original subject of the scope of the plot. She asks "has there been any evidence of the Al Qaida ties that this suspect has been claiming?" — which is slightly inane, since the suspect's claim of al Qaeda ties is evidence. But we know what she means. Napolitano says:
But the traveling public -- this is my message for you, Candy. The traveling public is very, very safe in this air environment. And while we continue to investigate the source of this incident, I think the traveling public should be confident in what we are doing now.
Right now, that is part of the criminal justice investigation that is ongoing...The criminal justice investigation. That reveals a mindset. Is there a war on terrorism? Or does Napolitano think she's dealing with a crime problem?
... and I think it would be inappropriate to speculate as to whether or not he has such ties.This is the criminal justice model.
What we are focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel.Now, she's back on her canned statement, the one that Crowley said she'd get to later, after focusing on where this incident fits in the war on terror. Napolitano is keen on repeating herself and slathering us with reassurance. It is here that she drops the quote everyone jumped on:
And one thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated.The context is reassurance, and the lambasted quote isn't even reassuring. She was unresponsive to the question asked, other than to try to repackage the incident as a routine criminal matter, and in an effort to repeat herself, she said something laughably stupid.
So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly.The key word there is "respond." The notion is that it's fine to stand back and see what "crimes" occur and then show up and investigate.
Crowley presses on, saying "Well, it seems as though the reason this plane did not explode is that the explosion failed and then you had some quick passengers who jumped on him when he lit this fire. So let me ask you about how he could have gotten on the plane, with this substance, the PETN. I mean, we get on, you can’t have more than 3.4 ounces of toothpaste and you can’t have more than 3.4 ounces of anything in a little bag, and so I think people are thinking, so how does he get on with an explosive? How does that get past security?" Here's Napolitano again:
Well, we are asking the same questions, looking at what happened in Amsterdam as he transferred flights to a flight that was U.S.-bound. We have already been working with the airport and airline authorities there to see what kind of screening, screening equipment was used. We have no suggestion that he was improperly screened, but we want to go through and see. We’re always ...No suggestion! Ridiculous! Crowley interrupts:
CROWLEY: I’m sorry, but if he was not improperly screened or properly screened, and yet you want Americans to feel safe on the planes, and so if it was properly screened and he got on anyway with that, it doesn’t feel that safe.Wha?????!!!!
NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, it should.
This was one individual literally of thousands that fly and thousands of flights every year.Oh, thanks. I just read that out loud, and my son Chris said: "That's like saying you shouldn't be worried about terrorism at all, because even if you were flying on 9/11, the likelihood of you being on one of the actual flights that were hijacked is very low."
What an awful performance. And check it out in video form:
Why is she slurring her words like that? Does she sound drugged or drunk to you? Or is that some sort of effort to sound like a tough guy? Now, watch it with the sound off. That bland half-smile — that numb mask — those unblinking, wide eyes ... the visual is weirdly incongruent with the audio.