Obama's Terrorism Balancing Act - NBC4 Washington

Obama's Terrorism Balancing Act

The president's difficult next steps in dealing with terrorism



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    The president is beginning a difficult and delicate dance, pundits write, and will soon engage in a balancing act: how can he keep the American public safe while avoiding a national panic?

    President Obama took a break from his Honolulu holiday Monday to address the thwarted Christmas Day terrorist attack on Detroit-bound jetliner Flight 253, telling the American public his administration "will not rest" until the terrorist plotters are found.

    The president is beginning a difficult balancing act in which he must keep the American public safe while avoiding a national panic, say pundits.

    • The Flight 253 attack represents the "most serious crisis" of the Obama presidency and requires immediate national security reform, Jacob Heilbrunn writes for The Huffington Post. Obama's ho-hum speech is nothing but rhetoric unless it's backed by action, Heilbrunn argues -- and so far, the Obama administration has responded "tardily and ineptly" to threats from abroad.
    • Obama's Honolulu pep talk had the right intent -- but the wrong approach, The Washington Times' editorial staff writes. His labeling of the attack as an isolated incident showed the commander in chief's "shocking ignorance of the nature of 21st-century globally networked terrorism," they write, and unless the president acknowledges a larger problem, he'll be hanging Americans out to dry.
    • Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly cuts Obama and Co. a break. The problem isn't the administration's lack of action once they were warned of alleged attacker Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's terrorist ties -- it's the security measures themselves, he writes. Unless the massive "no-fly" terrorist-warning lists are shrunk and analyzed more critically, "results like this one are practically unavoidable."
    • Michael Cohen at DemocracyArsenal.org seconds Benen's claim, but argues Americans should get used to the reality of terrorist attacks and the Obama administration should work to ease public fear. "We should be vigilant, but realistic about the threat," Cohen writes.
    • Morale-boosting aside, the only real solution for Obama is to take action in newly sprouted al-Qaeda regions like Yemen, which has claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day attacks, Joan Walsh blogs for Salon. "American policy there deserves more scrutiny," she writes.