For the second time in two days, ABC attempted to exonerate Barack Obama from
responsibility for a failed Christmas Day airline bombing. On Friday's Good
Morning America, Brian Ross spun, "Well, like another young president almost
50 years ago, Barack Obama found the so-called intelligence professionals, the
veterans, the old hands, failed him and failed the country." [Audio
available here .]
After placing the blame on everyone but the President, Ross oddly continued, "And as John Kennedy did when the CIA blew an invasion of Cuba in 1961, President Obama took responsibility for the failure to stop and spot the underwear bomber."
On Thursday's World News , anchor Diane Sawyer touted the same Kennedy comparison to ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "George, I have to say, 'the buck stops here.' It's an echo of another young President in another time." The former Democratic operative turned journalist hopefully replied, "John Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs. Huge intelligence failures at the Bay of Pigs. The President took responsibility, his popularity shot up."
On Friday, GMA co-host Stephanopoulos began the piece by explaining, "No one is being fired for the mistakes. The President is calling it a system-wide failure, not the fault of any single individual." And yet, many in the media are just cheerfully repeating White House talking points that the President is "taking responsibility."
(As for the historical comparison to JFK, it was Kennedy who pulled air support for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. So, it's a rather strange argument to use as a defense of Obama.)
A transcript of the January 8 segment, which aired at 7:01am
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to begin, though, with the very latest on President Obama's blunt assessment of those intelligence failures. No one is being fired for the mistakes. The President is calling it a system-wide failure, not the fault of any single individual. The suspect's going to appear in court later today and we have two reports now. Starting with chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross. Brian?
BRIAN ROSS: Good morning, George. Well, like another young president almost 50 years ago, Barack Obama found the so-called intelligence professionals, the veterans, the old hands, failed him and failed the country. And as John Kennedy did when the CIA blew an invasion of Cuba in 1961, President Obama took responsibility for the failure to stop and spot the underwear bomber.
BARACK OBAMA: Ultimately, the buck stops with me.
ROSS: The President offered little due in reciting the cascade of intelligence failures that let a man he called a known terrorist board a flight to Detroit with a bomb in his underwear.
OBAMA: Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had.
ROSS: Yet, not a single member of his intelligence team will be replaced.
CLARK KENT ERVIN (Fmr. IG of Dept. Of Homeland Security):The people who didn't connect these dots ought to be found. They ought to be easy to do. And those people ultimately ought to be fired.
ROSS: Instead, the same team behind the failure is now in charge of the fix. One of them offered his contrition.
JOHN BRENNAN (Deputy Assistant to President for Homeland Security): I told the President today, I let him down.
ROSS: But John Brennan, his top counter-terrorism deputy, then dismissed what the President called a system-wide problem, as just a one-time issue.
BRENNAN: In every instance over the past year, the intelligence community, the Homeland Security community, the law enforcement community, has done an absolutely outstanding and stellar job. It was in this one instance that we did not rise to that same level of competence and success.
ROSS: The intelligence failure will mean billions of dollars now spent on more security personnel and screening machines.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (Republican-TX): I hope the American people and Congress and this administration will wake up to the fact that there's still a threat out there that's very real and very alive. And not just sweep it under the rug.
ROSS: But the President was blunt about it, saying that al Qaeda, especially in Yemen, is still plotting and bent on the destruction of the United States.
OBAMA: Let's be clear about what this moment demands. We are at war.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Brian, one of the ironies here is that this government report critical of all mistakes, actually had a lot of mistakes itself.
ROSS: Indeed. It talked about misspelling the suspect's name as one of the problems. But on the very first page of the report, Flight 253, the Northwest flight, is listed at 153. And then on page three of the report, they incorrect list the date that the suspect's father went to the CIA to warn about his son. They say November 18th. It should have been the 19th. The lack of attention to detail, still a problem.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we know all yesterday afternoon, the intelligence officials were scrubbing the report to make sure any classified report to make sure any classified information didn't get out.
ROSS: They missed those two, key details.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Brian Ross, thank you very much.
-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.