In an interview Monday with Spiegal Online, Secretary Napolitano explained avoidance of the T word at her inaugural appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee:
“Although I did not use the word terrorism, I referred to ‘man-caused’ disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”
Regarding the Secretary’s testimony James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation tells Fox News what everyone inside the beltway knows, but has been whispering, “By deliberately trying not to use the T word they run a serious political risk. If something does happen, they’ll be accused of taking their eye off the ball and no amount of explanation after the fact will suffice.”
The markers for post-hoc accusation are being actively placed. Several Republican members of the House HS Committee were very clear in their warning. Former Vice President Cheney was his usual subtle self in telling CNN’s John King, that President Obama, “is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack.”
The prospect of merging the HSC into the NSC runs the same political risk… among other risks. In seeking to de-politicize terrorism the new administration is running the risk of handing their political adversaries a great gift.
Quite often in pursuing one goal we accept risk to another goal. It is not always a zero sum game, but the trade-offs can be painful. A big part of effective risk management is being explicit in advance about the potential trade-offs.