During an interview with Woodward in July, President Obama said: “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever … we absorbed it and we are stronger.”
These are stunningly complacent words from the man responsible for stopping such a terrorist attack. Obama uttered them last July, after America suffered two near misses—the failed attacks on Christmas Day and in Times Square. Rather than serving as a wake-up call and giving the president a sense of urgency, these attacks seem to have given the president a sense of resignation. He is effectively saying: an attack is inevitable, we’ll do our best to prevent it, but if we get hit again—even on the scale of 9/11—it’s really no big deal.
In fact, it would be a big deal, particularly to the people who would bear the burden of “absorbing” another attack—the victims and their families. Obama’s statement is unimaginably cavalier about the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, and disturbingly resigned to the prospect of thousands more perishing in our midst.
And naive, too. Who is to say the next attack would be limited to the scale of 9/11? If al Qaeda succeeds in its ongoing efforts to obtain chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons—an objective a report by a former CIA official says the terrorists continue to pursue unabated—they would not hesitate to use them. Which means the next terrorists attack could make 9/11 pale by comparison.
This statement should come as no surprise—it simply echoes what Obama has been saying since his first days in office. In April 2009, after Obama took the CIA out of the interrogation business, the president went to CIA headquarters and told officials there he knew he had made their jobs more difficult: “I’m sure it seems as if that means we’re operating with one hand tied behind our back,” the president said. “So yes, you’ve got a harder job. And so do I. And that’s okay.”
Think about that. The president has, by his own admission, forced the CIA to try and stop the next terrorist attack with one hand tied behind its back. He has, by his own admission, made the agency’s job of protecting us harder. And he says that’s okay.