Yesterday on Hannity, former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove sharply criticized President Obama’s response to the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day. In particular, Rove went after the fact that Obama issued his first public statement on the matter 72 hours after the event:
CARLSON: This President was not notified until three hours after this incident became known. Is that a long time? It seems like a long time.
ROVE: Look, they woke him up immediately to tell him he won the Nobel Prize but couldn’t bother to interrupt his vacation for three hours to tell him a terrorist tried to bring down a plane on Christmas Day. And the President waits 72 hours before we hear from him, and it’s over 72 hours from the time of the incident to the time that the President spoke today, and then the President said some things that are simply not true.
Rove made similar comments this morning again on Fox News, pointing out that it took Obama “72 hours after the event” to issue a statement from Hawaii, where the President is vacationing. This criticism rings hollow coming from Rove, a former top official in the Bush administration — which waited even longer to comment on a failed airline plot in 2001. As the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein notes:
On December 22, 2001, Richard Reid — known more infamously as the shoe bomber — failed in his attempt to blow up a Miami-bound jet using explosives hidden in his shoe. Coming less than four months after September 11, there already were deep concerns about a potential attack during the upcoming holiday break. Nevertheless, President Bush did not directly address the foiled plot for six days, according to an extensive review of newspaper records from that time period. And when he did, it was only in passing.
Two days after the incident on Dec. 24, the Boston Globe noted Bush’s silence: “White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said that President Bush continued to monitor the situation and receive updates at Camp David. Bush has not issued any statements about the incident.”
Conservatives have also been hammering the Obama administration for treating the Christmas Day plot as a law enforcement issue and for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s remarks that the “system, once the incident occurred, the system worked.” However, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also brushed aside questions about the shoe bomber by saying the matter was “in the hands of the law enforcement people,” and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft made comments similar to those of Napolitano.
Since the Christmas Day events, Obama has been consulting with his top advisers and administration officials have been actively speaking with press, including appearing on the Sunday public affairs shows. Today, Obama again made public comments on the incident while in Hawaii, stating, “But what already is apparent is that there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security. We need to learn from this episode and act quickly to fix the flaws in our system, because our security is at stake and lives are at stake.”