It took Faisal Shahzad trying to set a car bomb in Times Square to get President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to finally use the word “terrorism” without referring to Tea Party activists.

This is a major policy shift for a president who spent a month telling Americans not to “jump to conclusions” after Army doctor Nidal Malik Hasan reportedly jumped on a desk, shouted “Allahu Akbar!” and began shooting up the Fort Hood military base.

After last weekend, Obama is even threatening to pronounce “Pakistan” correctly. We know the president is really taking terrorism seriously this time because he took a break from his “Hope, Change & Chuckles” tour on the comedy circuit to denounce terrorists.

In a bit of macho posturing this week, Obama declared that Americans “will not be terrorized, we will not cower in fear, we will not be intimidated.”

First of all, having uniformed federal guards in every airport in the country wanding infants, taking applesauce away from 93-year-old dementia patients, and forcing all Americans to remove shoes, computers and any containers with up to 3 ounces of liquid in Ziploc bags for special screening pretty much blows that “not intimidated” look Obama thinks America has.

“Intimidated”? How about “absolutely terrified”?

Second, it would be a little easier for the rest of us not to live in fear if the president’s entire national security strategy didn’t depend on average citizens happening to notice a smoldering SUV in Times Square or smoke billowing from the crotch of a fellow airline passenger.

But after the car bomber, the diaper bomber and the Fort Hood shooter, it has become increasingly clear that Obama’s national defense strategy is: Let’s hope their bombs don’t work! If only Dr. Hasan’s gun had jammed at Fort Hood, it would have been another HUGE foreign policy success for Obama!

The administration’s Fingers-Crossed strategy is a follow-up to Obama’s earlier “Let’s Make Them Love Us!” strategy.

In the past year, Obama has repeatedly apologized to Muslims for America’s “mistakes.” He apologized to Iran for President Eisenhower’s taking out the loon, Mohammad Mossadegh, before Mossadegh turned a comparatively civilized country into a Third World hellhole. (You know, like the ayatollahs have.)

He apologized to the entire Muslim world for the French and English colonizing them — i.e. building them flush toilets.

He promised to shut down Guantanamo and ordered the mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to be tried in the same courthouse that tried Martha Stewart.

There was also Obama’s 90-degree-bow tour of the Middle East. For his next visit, he plans to roll on his back and have his belly scratched like Fido.

Despite favorable reviews in The New York Times, none of this put an end to Islamic terrorism.

So now, I gather, our only strategy is to hope the terrorists’ bombs keep fizzling.

There’s no other line of defense. In the case of the Times Square car bomber, the Department of Homeland Security failed, the Immigration and Naturalization Service failed, the CIA failed and the TSA failed.

Only the Department of Alert T-Shirt Vendors came through with flying colors.

It took the combined work of a New York city street vendor, the New York Police Department, and Shahzad’s Rube-Goldberg bomb to prevent a major explosion in Times Square. (I do hope Shahzad is not offended by how Jewish that sounds. Oh well, Obama can apologize.)

The NYPD de-wired the smoking car bomb and produced enough information to identify the bomb-maker, then tied it all up in a bow and handed it all to federal law enforcement authorities … but the federal government’s crack “no-fly” list had failed to stop Shahzad from boarding a plane to Dubai. (To be fair, at Emirates Airlines, being on a “no-fly” list makes you eligible for pre-boarding.)

Perhaps the Department of Homeland Security should consider creating a “Really, REALLY No-Fly” list.

Contrary to the wild excuses being made for the federal government on all the TV networks Monday night, it’s now clear that this was not a wily plan of federal investigators to allow Shahzad to board the plane in order to nab his co-conspirators. It was a flub that nearly allowed Shahzad to escape.

Meanwhile, on that same Monday at JFK airport, approximately 100,000 passengers took off their shoes, coats, belts and sunglasses, removed their computers, threw out their water bottles and produced liquid containers of up to 3 oz for airport security to scrutinze.

But the “highly trained federal force” The New York Times promised us [editorial Oct. 28, 2001], failed to stop the ONE guy they actually needed to stop at JFK last Monday.

So why did 100,000 other passengers have to be harassed and annoyed by the TSA?

The federal government didn’t stop a guy on the “No Fly” list from boarding a plane and coming minutes away from getting out of the country and it also didn’t stop the diaper bomber from nearly detonating a bomb over Detroit.

If our only defense to terrorism is counting on alert civilians, how about not harassing them before they board airplanes? We might be a little more rested and sharp if we weren’t required to submit to all these exhausting airport “security” procedures.

Both of the attempted bombers who sailed through airport security, I note, were young males of the Islamic faith. I wonder if we could develop some sort of security plan based on that profile?

Speaking of the New York Times’ imaginary “highly trained federal force,” who’s working at the INS these days? Specifically, who on earth made the decision to allow Shahzad to become a U.S. citizen last year?

Our “Europeans Need Not Apply” immigration policies were absurd enough before 9/11. But after 19 foreign-born Muslims, legally admitted to the U.S., murdered 3,000 Americans in a single day, couldn’t we tighten up our immigration policies toward people from countries still performing stonings and clitorectomies?

Alert t-shirt vendors can’t be everywhere, all the time.

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