Will The Right Wing Attack General Petraeus For Saying Times Square Bomber Is A ‘Lone Wolf’? (Updated)

john-boehnerLast Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that authorities had “no evidence” that the failed bombing in Times Square which occurred the day before was “anything other than a one-off” incident. However, she also said “[w]e are treating it as if it could be a potential terrorist attack. The derivation of that we do not know and that’s what the investigation will tell us.”

Looking for a line of attack on the Obama administration, the Republicans and other right wingers latched onto Napolitano’s “one-off” comments, claiming they indicate that she and the administration don’t understand the true nature of the threat:

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH): “The Obama administration has spoon-fed the American people with bland reassurances that this was just one off, or that this was just a lone wolf. This is the rhetoric of an administration that continues to operate without a real comprehensive plan to confront the terrorist threat.”

RNC Chair Micheal Steele: “Clearly there’s something missing…I think there’s a lot of rush to judgment in concluding that he acted alone so we can sweep that aside and not have it reach out as tentacles often do and touch a whole lot of other actors around the globe, particularly those who are apart of the global jihad.” [MSNBC, 5/7/10]

Charles Krauthammer: “The administration always instinctively wants to pretend, at least at the beginning, that it’s a one-off the thing…They don’t want to talk about the overall structure, which is that it’s part of jihad. They’re all connected in the sense that they are adherents to a jihadist movement with a lot of tentacles and that is what is behind them.”

Napolitano never claimed outright that the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, acted alone. She simply said there was “no evidence” yet that he didn’t. Now, it appears her informed judgment has been further vindicated. Gen. David Petraeus — a favorite among right wing neoconservatives and war hawks — said today that Shahzad did, in fact, act alone:

Gen. David Petraeus says the Times Square bombing suspect is a “lone wolf” terrorist who did not work with others.

The general who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan tells The Associated Press that alleged bomber Faisal Shahzad was inspired by militants in Pakistan, but didn’t have direct contact with them.

The Washington Post reports today that “U.S. officials” said Shahzad’s “radicalization was cumulative and largely self-contained — meaning that it did not involve typical catalysts such as direct contact with a radical cleric, a visible conversion to militant Islam or a significant setback in life.”

So while Boehner, Steele, Krauthammer and the rest were busy jumping to conclusions on the Times Square bombing, the Obama administration offered a more reasoned and measured response. Perhaps the right wing will now attack Petraeus’s naïveté in fighting terrorism?


The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes, who has also criticized Napolitano’s “one-off” remark, tweets that Petraeus’s comment “[c]ontradicts virtually all [reporting] this week.”

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,Subsequently, Petraeus’ statement was disputed by other officials in the Obama administration. Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. has now “developed evidence that shows that the Pakistani Taliban was behind” the attempted car bombing. White House homeland security adviser John Brennan also said Shahzad was working “on behalf of the Tariqi Taliban Pakistan.”

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