The system is supposed to work, according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, something like this: a man recently reported to U.S. authorities by his own father, who was on a terror watch list, who pays three grand in cash for a ticket to Detroit (enough to buy a city block in the Motor City), and who was denied a student visa to the United Kingdom, attempts to explode a bomb on a packed plane and is tackled by a Dutch filmmaker. Vindication of the stupid, bloated, counterproductive DHS security apparatus! Which, as has been pointed out in these very pages by Jesse Walker, is about to get even dumber and more irritating.
Today Napolitano backtracked, saying she had been taken out of context and that the system, in fact, failed:
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."
Other notable backtracks in the past few days: The ever-reliable Michael Moore tweeted that it was a gang of tough Detroiters (probably union guys) that foiled the plot, forgetting that no one actually lives in Detroit anymore. He later clarified that the 60 pound Nigerian was pummeled by a flying Dutchman, but "Then Motown kicked in" by providing a runway for an emergency landing.
Lefty blogger Spencer Ackermann tweeted that "Some idiot set firecrackers off on a jet and were supposed to be afraid of that?" Well, yes we are. Because according to a report in today's New York Times, were he not foiled by a faulty detonator, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was carrying enough firecrackers to blow Flight 253 out of the sky.
In related news, Brian Ross of ABC News reports today that Abdulmutallab "told FBI agents there were more just like him in Yemen who would strike soon." Awesome.