By Teresa Welsh |
Yes. We are safer and we feel safer, but does President Barack Obama really deserve credit for improving our safety?
A president tends to continue the predecessor's efforts to keep us safe. Though there are tweaks, safety efforts normally do not ride the ups and downs of more politically charged issues like taxes or healthcare. As time passes, everyone gets better at responding to threats. Citizens learn to be more watchful for threatening activity, and become more willing to take action. Police departments develop better resources to anticipate threats, pre-empt them, and if not, neutralize them more quickly. The government learns from its mistakes, and develops more effective responses to threats. This has all happened, and normally does over time.
Then again, those federal agencies responsible for our safety all have strong and experienced and effective leadership. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an astute politician and an accomplished legislator, enjoys glowing praise from the agency's normally critical professional staff. Leon Panetta, secretary of defense, has had a long and distinguished career as a legislator and senior executive at some of our government's most critical positions. Attorney General Eric Holder is an experienced federal prosecutor and has extensive experience as senior executive at Justice. Homeland Security's Janet Napolitano has brought some logic and results to the perpetually dysfunctional agency in large part due to her experience as chief executive of a border state. You can disagree with many of their policies, but not really those related to our safety. The president deserves credit for those appointments, and the heads of those agencies seem to appreciate the president's leadership.
Thinking of it another way, if terrorist attacks on U.S. soil were increasing and Americans were dying at or near the levels of 9/11, who would we blame? The president. Since those threats have been much more limited, President Obama deserves credit for keeping us safe.
About William F. Daddio Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University
James Jay Carafano Director of the Heritage Foundation's Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies
Nathan Sales Law Professor at George Mason University School of Law
Lawrence Husick Co-chairman of the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Center for the Study of Terrorism