She said what? Over the weekend Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano caused quite a stir when told CNN that “the system worked” when talking about a Nigerian man’s attempt to blow a Northwest Airlines airplane out of the sky on Christmas Day. See the 1:25 mark of the CNN video below.
Worked? Many critics pointed out that it was dumb luck that disaster was avoided.
The Secretary appeared on NBC’s Today show this morning and was immediately asked about her seemingly indefensible defense. She used one the oldest and weakest dodges around — claiming that her comment was “taken out of context.” Her CNN appearance was not edited — and so SHE was responsible for the context. If she meant to say (as she did on Today) that the system failed miserably before it worked — she should have said so.
It would have been more effective — and honest — for her to tell Matt Lauer: “I didn’t express myself as clearly as I should have — the point I was trying to make was that ONCE THE INCIDENT HAPPENED — the system worked. Obviously it should have never happened and we are looking into why it did.”
Blaming misstatements on being taken out of context is an all-too-common tactic of avoiding taking responsibility for your own words.
MATT LAUER: You made a comment over the weekend and I want to call attention to that because a lot of people are disagreeing with it this morning. You talked about this incident aboard this Northwest flight and you said “when it came right down to it, the system worked.” A lot of people don’t think the system worked at all, that the only thing that prevented disaster was luck. Can you respond to that?
JANET NAPOLITANO: Sure, I think the comment is being taken out of context. What I’m saying is that once the incident occurred, moving forward, we were immediately able to notify the 128 flights in the air of protective measures to take, immediately able to notify law enforcement on the ground, airports both domestically, internationally, all carriers, all of that happening within 60 to 90 minutes, so —
LAUER: So you’re only talking about what happened after this man tried to ignite this explosive device on the plane.
LAUER: You would then concede that the system prior to that, the system that’s supposed to prevent something like this from happening, failed miserably?”