Pawlenty rips federal oversight of failed attack on a passenger plane

Gov. Pawlenty was the guest host for Jason Lewis on KTLK last night. At the top of the three hour show, Pawlenty questioned the federal oversight of a passenger who was unsuccessful in an alleged attack on a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day.

Pawlenty is latest Republican to criticize the Obama Administration for the incident. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is suspected of trying to ignite an explosive on Northwest Flight. AP says Abdulmutallab was not on the government’s terrorist watch list – though he was on a less sensitive and broader database. It also said he was able to maintain a valid U.S. visa despite his father’s warning to U.S. embassy officials in Nigeria.

Pawlenty, who has not ruled out a run for the White House in 2012, jumped into the fray suggesting that “the system did not work.” He also said he supports body imaging technology to screen for suspected terrorists and said “we have to err on the side of caution and safety” when it comes to screening, etc.

Listen to Pawlenty’s KTLK segment here:

The entire show can be heard here.

Before Pawlenty made his comments, President Obama tried to head off the criticism by saying there had been a “systemic failure” in U.S. security that led to the failed attack:

Now, the more comprehensive, formal reviews and recommendations for improvement will be completed in the coming weeks, and I’m committed to working with Congress and our intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security communities to take all necessary steps to protect the country.

I wanted to speak to the American people again today because some of this preliminary information that has surfaced in the last 24 hours raises some serious concerns. It’s been widely reported that the father of the suspect in the Christmas incident warned U.S. officials in Africa about his son’s extremist views. It now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community, but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect’s name on a no-fly list.

There appears to be other deficiencies as well. Even without this one report there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together. We’ve achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists and potential terrorist attacks. But it’s becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have.

Had this critical information been shared it could have been compiled with other intelligence and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged. The warning signs would have triggered red flags and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America.

The key question for both Pawlenty and Obama is whether the criticism sticks. The danger for Pawlenty is that it also opens the door for any past and future “systemic failures” within his own administration.

  • jj

    This article is really bad. What does “air on the side of caution” mean? Try “err” and your quote makes sense. Or is it “cents”?

  • tom scheck

    I fixed the spelling error.

  • Brian F

    I have to wonder what Pawlenty would be saying if this even had occurred during a McCain/Palin administration….

  • Before addressing the subject matter discussed, the first question is WHY is our Governor doing fill-in work at a radio station ?

    — In 2001, Minnesota lawmakers tried to stop Gov. Jesse Ventura’s moonlighting when he signed a contract to announce games for the now-defunct XFL football league. The legislation died during the session. During a gubernatoiral debate broadcast by MPR, Pawlenty (as well as the other candidates) were asked about “outside” work … Pawlenty pledged not to accept any other work. This was quickly broken when he opted to host a radio program on WCCO (which he selected over KFAN’s offer.)

    — Who asked the Governor to “fill-in” ? Has MPR ever asked him to be a fill-in ?

    — Is Pawlenty getting the “standard” pay rate for a fill-in ? Or is this “compensation” considered to be “in-kind” based on getting free air time ?

    — On a competitor’s airwaves (Garage Logic with Joe Soucheray) it was suggested that no Muslims be allowed to fly into the United States. That is the type of banter that radio hosts like to use to excite the audience. Our Governor should not be doing this type of work.

    Now, to the subject matter.

    — Has Pawlenty ever commented on or encouraged that the Mpls-St.Paul airport be equipped with full body scan devices ? According to the Strib, we are not listed … “The TSA has 40 in place. Six of the machines are being used instead of a metal detector at airports in Albuquerque, N.M.; Las Vegas; Miami; San Francisco; Salt Lake City; and Tulsa, Okla. The other 34 are used for secondary screening of people who set off a metal detector in Atlanta; Dallas/Fort Worth; Denver; Detroit; Indianapolis; Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.; Los Angeles; Phoenix; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; and two airports in the Washington area: Baltimore/Washington and Reagan National.”

    — When the I-35 Bridge collapsed, wasn’t Governor Pawlenty’s reaction that we should wait until the investigators did their review before laying blame. People died then but now he is quick to blame others.

  • Bill Prendergast

    Tim Pawlenty lost no time in excoriating the Obama administration for failure to prevent the attempted Christmas bombing.

    But how did the state’s conservative Republicans do, when they were offered a chance to mandate the kind of security measures that could have prevented the attack?

    Here’s the story of a sorry, shameful vote by Bachmann and her fellow Minnesota Republicans.

    “Today it was reported by reporter Ben Smith that Michele Bachmann of the 6th Congressional District and her two Republican colleagues who represent Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives, John Kline and Erik Paulsen, voted against the final conference report of the 2010 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act. Included in the list of programs recommended in the Act was funding for TSA explosives detection gear and training, air marshals and other air safety line items.

    In fact, 108 Republicans irresponsibly voted against this extremely crucial funding. Americans deserve to fly with the belief that the detection equipment being used at airports where U.S. carriers fly is the very best available…”

    –Marc Friedman,

    See also, Ben Smith, Politico, Dec. 28 2009, “GOP blame at TSA?”

  • Tom Scheck

    MPR has a standing interview request with Gov. Pawlenty to be on Morning Edition, Midmornig, Midday and All Things Considered but he has declined for several weeks/months.