Susan Page On Washington's Week

Thursday, January 07, 2010

From health care to homeland security to a number of high-profile Democratic resignations, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today, talks about the week's political news out of Washington, DC.


Susan Page

Comments [59]

Jim from Manhattan

The Republican argument that, "under the Bush administration we were not attacked since 9/11", has to stop. We were attacked on 9/11 and it was under the watch of the Bush administration. The worst terrorist attack on our country happened under George W. Bush. That's the bottom line!

The vigilance of the American people do deserve more credit than they are getting...UA Flight 93 was stopped by the American people. The shoe Bomber, Richard Reid, was stopped by the American people. The Delta Flight #253 was stopped by the American People! Give credit were credit is due.

George Bush failed miserably on every front of the "war on terror". Obama is doing everything he can to fix the problems created by the Bush administration. PLAIN AND SIMPLE!!!

Jan. 07 2010 08:24 PM
the truth! from BKNY

Agreed the krazies r everywhere, What about the man in Georgia subburd who killed his wife and drove with her in the back of the pickup truck while he took the two kids in the same truck to his family in viriginia? dropped them off went back to GA and turned himself in?

Jan. 07 2010 12:47 PM
the truth! from BKNY

jonathan #50 - u know what the weather most likely is in all of Africa yes??? Dont label people ignorant, so naive not to know better. Besides these are the things security officials need to notice!

Jan. 07 2010 12:44 PM
jonathan V Porcelli from Clinton Hill

Lets not forget about the shooting in LAs Vegas this week.
A man angry about how a court settled his case regarding his Social Security payments, returns to kill people. Angry at the american judicial system? Spurred on by Glenn Beck and Limbaugh?

No different then a young muslim falling under the spell of a muslim imam and believing in Jihad and american foreign policy?

Jan. 07 2010 11:58 AM
jonathan V Porcelli from Clinton Hill

How do you know if someone is Muslim?
Ask them?

Seems pretty hard to identify someones Faith.

Can't they just lie when they are asked and say I am a christian? Or Sikh? Or Hindu?

Jan. 07 2010 11:55 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Purchasing a plane ticket in Africa is a common occcurance. It seems that nobody is giving any consideration to the fact of revenge as being a major component for these attacks. Stop killing these people, and that will stop many of them from trying to kill you.

Jan. 07 2010 11:55 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

John from Bergen @ 45,
ST Louis was a local shooting
Fort Hood was a local shooting
Virginia Tech was a local shooting
The guy who kill three cops was a local shooting
Columbine was a local shooting
And if this bomber on Christmas was more successful that would have been a local bombing the same way 9/11 was three localized bombing, WTC 1993 was a local bombing, Oklahoma City was a local bombing, and blowing up women’s clinics are local bombings.
When does something require national attention to you? Bombings vs. shootings? Dark skin vs. light skins? Muslims vs. everyone else?
It's like when white women go missing in this country vs everyone else, no?

Jan. 07 2010 11:52 AM
Naudia from Brooklyn

I don't understand how the caller before proposes to profile Muslims going on planes.Does he believe that you could look at a someone and tell whether he or she is Muslim or not.
What would the security person look for---peoples names or the way people are dressed. Or maybe it would be better for Muslims to walk around with Muslims ID cards?
I am a Muslim, and I don't have a traditional Muslim name, and I don't wear hijab so how would the security person know I am Muslim besides asking me.
He may not wish to sound prejudice, but......

Jan. 07 2010 11:52 AM
hjs from 11211

i've heard that airlines don't take credit cards in africa because of fraud. that could be why paying cash is not an issue

Jan. 07 2010 11:51 AM
jonathan V Porcelli from Clinton Hill

I find it unfortunate that people believe the clues to the Dec 25th terror attempt were the fact
that the person paid cash and did not have a jacket.

Paying with Cash: As was also reported elsewhere, its not uncommon for people in African Countries to
pay cash because Credit Card Fraud is rampant in these countries. Airlines won't accept credit cards at the terminal
due to this.

Also, do we really think the workers in Lagos knew where Detroit is and what the temperature was?
Most americans don't even know where Africa is on a Map. Are we so egocentric that we think everyone knows every major city in the USA
and its climate?

I can't imagine an airline clerk in Africa who has possibly never been in such cold temperatures able to discern appropriate cothes to wear on
a plane and then notify officials in Washington.

Next, by the time the terrorist was in Amsterdam, how is security there supposed to know wether or not he checked a bag?
A bag that might have contained a Jacket for him to wear upon his arrival in Detroit.

I see people arrive from warm climates into JFK all the time wearing short sleeves and pull a jacket from their checked baggage in the baggage claim area.

So now all the terrorists have to do now is pay with a credit card and wear a jacket and we are once again
blind to their plots.

As is the truth, it will happen again. With a system that handles millions of passengers a day, it's a miracle
it doesn't happen more often. Why doesnt' it?

So maybe its actually an overblown threat?

Jan. 07 2010 11:51 AM
MK from Manhattan

People say muslims should be profiled at airports because they are the only once who are attacking us. But how do you determine if some is a muslim or not? Religion is not something you touch or feel or see. There are people who have muslim names but who are not muslims; there are people who look like Arabs but they are Jewish or Christian. Besides Muslims come from all over the world and it is interesting for me to hear people assuming that they can easily spot muslims and watch them closely. My view is that everyone should be watched closely at airports. If these people are willing to kill themselves, they would do anything to carry out their goal:they might threaten a woman, a child or any ordinary person to carry whatever they need to do their job. So, Just focusing on one group would only make these people more creative.

Jan. 07 2010 11:44 AM
Michael Z from NYC

The last caller was right on the mark about the need for TSA to profile the men that share the same ethnic background and religion who were responsible for every attack on Americans from the U.S.S. Cole tragedy, Twin Towers and the last incident on a DELTA airline flight to Detroit. It's not 5 year olds and grandma's who are being patted down at TSA security screenings that have declared a War on Americans. Profiling for this puropse is a must for the safety of all Americans.

Jan. 07 2010 11:39 AM
Bill from New York

Profiling doesn't have to be done to the exclusion of a broad-based watchfulness, but it does provide a way of focusing in on the kinds of people that tend, statistically speaking, to be a greater threat. It's a no brainer. Don't like it when people make generalizations about Muslims or Arabs? "Muslims" and "Arabs" are already generalizations. We live with generalizations. Thinking is impossible without them. Will profiling these people (don't believe they havne't been and aren't now being profiled) will drive them to disguise themselves then they'll have made themselves noticeable on different terms if, again, we're observing a general watchfulness. Until WASP, Latin Catholic, Tibetan, etc. terror cells start routinely blowing themselves up for their respective causes, profile on ethnic/religious grounds (among others) is sensible and practical.

Jan. 07 2010 11:37 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Can some of this be automated? An airline's computer system in each airport probably already registers form of payment, whether there's a return flight, & how many checked & carry-on bags for each passenger. Could it also be programmed to flag the combination "cash," "1-way," & "0 bags," maybe even in a way that the person at the computer can't go on to the next step w/out taking action on the high-risk passenger?

Jan. 07 2010 11:34 AM
John from Bergen County NJ

@ Denis in Brooklyn (currently in LA) I heard about the shooting St L. this AM.
I understand your point but I wonder why I should even know about a shooting in St. L.? It strikes me as a local issue.
By broadcasting it nationwide it may heighten anxiety everywhere.
We need less anxiety.

Jan. 07 2010 11:32 AM
the truth! from BKNY

also bush was conveniently NOT in DC when 9/11 happened - dont think he stopped his vaca to return home right away!

Jan. 07 2010 11:32 AM
barden williams from brooklyn

Americans "ALL" travel by plane - I think your commentator shows the subtlety that detaches us from the rest of the world and puts us in danger by not viscerally identifying with "regular folk." To say we ALL travel by plane is a pretty big estimation, especially when even in the busiest holidays we have about 38 million flying. A lot of people, but I'm sure a bunch are left out who aren't frequent air travelers.

The disconnect? Assumptions like these just let people know that the comparatively rich will never really 'get' the level of disenfranchisement among certain communities, disenfranchisement that may motivate the educated and uneducated representatives of that group. I say the last because Brian mentioned "paradoxically highly educated" among the risky crowds. Until we back up and consider the whole of humanity from a deep and human cultural level, we'll always be at higher risk. Cultural competency is our biggest failure, a modicum of which could even mitigate our perception as bad businessmen in the world.

Jan. 07 2010 11:31 AM
Kim W. from Brooklyn, NY

For pity's sake -- how would you even ACHIEVE profiling of Muslims? What does a Muslim "look like"? Not all Arabs are Muslim, and not all Muslims are Arab. How on earth would you be able to tell whether the gentleman before you is indeed Muslim instead of Sikh? Or Druse? Or Rachel Ray (she wore a kaffiyeh in a photo shoot once, remember)?

I can't help but think that people who call for the profiling of "Muslims", like the last caller in this segment, are really deep down just asking for profiling of "people who look different from me because that scares me." Aren't we past that by now?

Jan. 07 2010 11:31 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

The reason why Denis @ 15 is because the mass shootings in the United States are usually not by Muslims. White people tend to be the ones shooting up schools and churches and Christians blow up the clinics.
It’s just not popular in America to point out white Christians tend to kill a lot of people. It’s also not popular to point out Americans with guns kill people. Brown people with bombs are a much sexier topic for television, newspapers, magazines, and radio talking heads.

Jan. 07 2010 11:31 AM
the truth! from BKNY

AND I REPEAT...those teenage screeners should be pulled and briefed again about the seriousness of their jobs and just what failure means! As you can tell by now I fly frequently and so do my family members, I am very passionate about this subject.

Jan. 07 2010 11:31 AM
Ed from Brooklyn

Brian, I expect more from you and WNYC. To even air the comments from the USAToday readers about how Bush made us "safe"...... Really? Really? How was Richard Reid different from the Christmas incident? You seem to be feeding the same ongoing state of fear that allowed Bush and Cheney to trample the Constitution.

And when will we, as a nation, grow up? Risk is apart of life. There is no such thing as perfect safety. And beyond that, the hyperventilation by the Right over this is purely political, not constructive at all.

The recently often cited quote by Franklin about security and liberty is so appropriate. As a serious, and usually respectable journalist, you should reflect on it when doing these types of stories.

Jan. 07 2010 11:29 AM
the truth! from BKNY

WHen you pay cash traveling internationally one way, to a colder climate with no coat, and a brand new visa.....all stops on your route should be alerted and you should be hauled over to the room and the side and xray screened down to the SKELETON!

Jan. 07 2010 11:29 AM
Barry Jackson from Montclair NJ

There are several things to point out about the recent attack. There seems to be no discussion that there was a team getting these bomb components aboard the plane. It seems to me - if I was planning an attack - that I would (to use a sports term) "flood the zone". I would not spent a lot of time getting one terriorist in the USA. I would be trying to get many. The recent one might merely be a probe, testing out our response to it.

It might be a simple diversion, while we watch planes moving resources, etc.) they are sneaking in at another vulnerable point.

Jan. 07 2010 11:29 AM
Lance from Miami

We keep reading and hearing about how much better Israeli (and El Al) airport security are, supposedly based solely on "behavioral profiling" as opposed to other forms of profiling.

Does anybody really believe Israeli security operates without engaging in any degree of racial/ethnic/religious profiling?

Jan. 07 2010 11:27 AM
the truth! from BKNY

FYI caller, Brian is an "Obama hater" so he is playing confused by your question

Jan. 07 2010 11:27 AM
A listener

Although the Detroit flight initiated in Europe, I too have grave concerns about the competence and professionalism of TSA screeners. They are still hiring people who appear to be in their teens and twenties, people who I wouldn't trust to properly bag my groceries.

Jan. 07 2010 11:26 AM
brad from crown heights

How was the shoe-bomber not a post-9/11 terrorist on bush's watch? Seems pretty equivalent to the underwear bomber.

Jan. 07 2010 11:25 AM

If you profile Muslims, they'll just disguise themselves as non-Muslims. It's not like they were dressed up in robes with beards.

Jan. 07 2010 11:24 AM
Rob from The Bronx

I am a little puzzled by people who say that no plots happened on Bush's watch. When did the Richard Reid attack occur? It is pointless to say things like this. The terrorist don't care if a Democrat or Republican is president. We Americans need to work together, it is silly to attack each other on such issues, only the terrorist win when we do this.

Jan. 07 2010 11:23 AM
Chaz from Greenpoint

Your guest just repeated a falsity about the effectiveness of full-body scanning machines. They would *NOT* have stopped the Christmas Underwear Bomber. The following is quote from a British MP & former military officer who worked for one of the companies that builds the machines.
Ben Wallace, who used to work at defence firm QinetiQ, one of the companies making the technology, warned it was not a "big silver bullet".


Mr Wallace said the scanners would probably not have detected the failed Detroit plane plot of Christmas Day.

He said the same of the 2006 airliner liquid bomb plot and of explosives used in the 2005 bombings of three Tube trains and a bus in London.
Full article :

Jan. 07 2010 11:23 AM
John from Bergen County NJ

EL AL Keeps its 747 under guard and away from the terminal at EWR. They know how to do security.

Jan. 07 2010 11:23 AM
Smokey from LES

The plane ticket was bought in cash in Ghana. We don't generally pay cash for tickets here, but cash is an accepted way of payment in many other parts of the world. Let's look at the percentages of payment there before we latch onto this as such a big clue.

Jan. 07 2010 11:23 AM
Bill from New York

Re: "How do you even buy a plane ticket with cash these days?" It was mentioned on another NPR show, I think on To the Point, that it's common for African airports to accept cash as credit there is abysmal.

Jan. 07 2010 11:23 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

David Thompson @ 11,
We can’t hire Google to connect the dots and analyze data because Google employs homosexuals.
We have a problem with agencies not sharing information because they care more about their own glory than protecting citizens, but we also have the issue of the government intentionally purging competent analysts and willfully making us less safe.

Jan. 07 2010 11:23 AM
A listener

The Fort Hood shooter wasn't stopped because the people directly responsible for detecting and reporting and removing the shooter - the military chain of command - didn't want to go to the TROUBLE of the removal process.

Jan. 07 2010 11:23 AM
Bob from Pelham

It seems that flagging one-way tickets, no luggage passengers will catch the old-school lone crazy person bomber, but don't you think that real terrorists are smart enough to buy round-trip tickets and bring along some suitcases? It's not like they care about saving money on the airfare and luggage fees.

Jan. 07 2010 11:22 AM

The use of credit cards is nowhere as prevalent as it is in the USA. Someone buying a plane ticket with cash is not unusual in other parts of the world.

Jan. 07 2010 11:22 AM

Not only was Richard Reed on Bush's watch, but he would have been allowed to bring a lighter on the plane (instead of the matches he used) before and after that flight.

Jan. 07 2010 11:22 AM
Carl from East Village

Again, how do we think that the security at the airport is going to know that this guy:
* bought a one-way ticket
* Coming from Yemen
* didn't check in any baggage
* didn't have a jacket

The security at the airport DOES NOT HAVE THAT information! All they have is the xray scanner in front of them.

This is a software/information issue! We need to invest in a completely new system for tracking information about the people using such transportation (planes, possibly trains)

Jan. 07 2010 11:21 AM
John from Bergen County NJ

Gee Martin Chuzzlewit is alive and living in Manhattan.

Why do we use a baseball term 3 strikes to judge the president on a very complex issue?
It is a tough job. I give our president can have 6 strikes. A foul ball is a strike but it is not counted after 2 strikes.

BTW Jon Stewart on TDS 1/4/10 talk about how un-creative Alqeda is. 7 years apart shoe bomber and now X-mas bomber has simply moved the explosive to a different part of the body. Shoe Bomber had no luggage, paid cash had a 1 way ticket.

Jan. 07 2010 11:21 AM

Richard Reed was on Bush's watch!

Jan. 07 2010 11:21 AM
hjs from 11211

where are the bomb sniffing dogs?

or is it just better to spend billions on machines?

Jan. 07 2010 11:20 AM

What? The 9/11 attacks were on Bush's watch!!!

Jan. 07 2010 11:19 AM
Smokey from LES

This will probably turn out to have been one of the easier plots to anticipate. How many fathers go to the embassy to report their sons have become radicalized? How often does that happen?

Jan. 07 2010 11:19 AM
Denis from Brooklyn (in L.A. at the moment)

One interesting perspective to the past week, we've had several incidents of people in the U.S. killing other people in mass shootings....Las Vegas, MN, St. one was killed on the airliner over Detroit and yet we are spending all our time talking about it. Mass killings with guns occur almost weekly in this country and we never engage in a real discussion about gun control. What is the bigger threat? Terrorism or Americans armed to the teeth?

Jan. 07 2010 11:18 AM
the truth! from BKNY

OMG she said it again - stop quoting him saying they are OVERWORKED, this is NOT acceptable! You sound ridiculous lady.

Jan. 07 2010 11:18 AM

Wasn't the creation of the DHS supposed to fix the problem of communication between the agencies after 9/11?

Jan. 07 2010 11:16 AM

The elephant in the room as far as anti-terrorism is concerned is not nationality or country of origin, but religion itself.

Since anyone doing anything in the name of or by the dictates of a religion is by definition delusional and not in control of his or her own actions and does not live in the real world, it is religious "belief" that needs to be screened closely.

The world will be safer when religion itself, any religion, is considered a potentially dangerous mental illness and is relegated to where it belongs which is mentally similar to cults or gangs.

Jan. 07 2010 11:16 AM
david thomson from brooklyn

One of the simplest and most obvious issues is that the databases from various agencies don't speak with each other there is no central repository that connects the dots. You can hire more analysts but if the information is not compiled into one related database, you'll run into the same problem. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE GIVEN THE TECHNOLOGY THAT THE AVERAGE AMERICAN HAS ACCESS TO!?

Hire Google to connect the dots...this is not rocket science. companies do this all the time.

Jan. 07 2010 11:16 AM

1600 people a day added to the watchlist?!!! There's not nearly that many terrorists in the world.

It's crazy!

Jan. 07 2010 11:15 AM

The biggest mistake was creating the DHS in the first place. Trying to fix bureaucratic problems by creating the biggest bureaucracy in the world makes no sense.

I just stood in line for three hours at the gate coming back to NY from Europe. It was a total waste of time, total overreaction.

Every time a plane is delayed because of some stupid security problem, the terrorists can claim a little victory. As long as we are so scared that we allow all our freedoms to get taken away, we are letting them win.

Jan. 07 2010 11:14 AM
SteveR from Manhattan

1. No one gets fired from the federal government.
2. If anyone in government had acted on the "warning signs" that all were supposed to have seen with these recent terrorist cases, they would be labeled racist.

Jan. 07 2010 11:14 AM
Ed from Brooklyn

How about firing the head of the TSA?

Oh wait, because of Sen. DeMint, there isn't one.

Jan. 07 2010 11:13 AM

Isn't the suicide bomber on the CIA agents in Afghanistan strike 3?

Jan. 07 2010 11:13 AM
Chris from Yonkers

Of course, it is impossible to stop every attack when you are dealing with such an amorphous (and suicidal!) enemy.

However, I wonder if there is a single, central database that all of the various organizations under Homeland Security report into. Then this database could be regularly tracked, reviewed, etc.

Meaning, every arrest, phone call or any other observation that has any indication of terrorism would be put in the database. Presumably, you could have it reviewed regularly by humans but also mined for trends and changes by a computer algorithm.


Jan. 07 2010 11:13 AM
Carl from East Village

It's clear that these agencies do not share the same computer systems. Do we really think that information is going to be shared by people calling each other up about the threat of individual people?! These agencies should not be communicating information with each other, they should THE SAME DATA.

I'm sure there are certain privacy issues about one agency being able to see things that others can't, but if we are going to stop these "communication failures" we need to solve those issues and stop depending on 'communication' and get down to 'commonly known data'.

Jan. 07 2010 11:12 AM
the truth! from BKNY

We can't afford for people to be "overwhelmed" - we have to make it clear to the TSAs that when they dont do their job, people die. Get more people or replace the "overwhelmed" ASAP!

Jan. 07 2010 11:09 AM

How do you even buy a plane ticket with cash these days?

Jan. 07 2010 11:08 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Candidate Obama promised transparency and bi-partisanship in his administration.....and now he is going to force upon us a healthcare bill that is being cooked up without cameras(or microphones) and without any Republicans allowed in the room!!!

Whatever happened to holding Presidents to their words? When did the activist media stop being objectively activist?

Kudos to Brian Lamb!!

Jan. 07 2010 09:28 AM

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