Debra Burlingame, spoke exclusively to RedState in reaction to President Obama’s comment that America could “absorb” another terrorist attack. Ms. Burlingame is co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America and the sister of hijacked American Airlines flight 77 pilot Charles Burlingame.
RedState asked Ms. Burlingame to respond to comments reported by celebrity Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in his forthcoming book, “Obama’s Wars.” On the possibility of another terrorist attack in the United States, the president said:
“I said very early on, as a Senator and continue to believe, as a presidential candidate and now as president, that we can absorb a terrorist attack. We will do everything we can to prevent it. but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever, that ever took place on our soil, we absorbed it, and we are stronger. This is a strong, powerful country that we live in, and our people are incredibly resilient.”
Ms. Burlingame said that the comments were inappropriate.
“The first thing I see are the three thousand families who probalby wouldn’t think we absorbed it that well. The first ones I think of are the four children on my brother’s plane. I think of the Falkenberg family, who lost four people: a husband, wife, and two children. The three year old was so little, the family received no remains. Those are details that can be multiplied by the tens of thousands of people who were impacted by 9/11, probably hundreds of thousands if you include the rescue personnel.
Ms. Burlingame continued:
“[These comments come after] almost two years of President Obama ignoring the harsh realities of 9/11. Think of Fort Hood…he stood there within days of that attack and called it unimaginable. Unimaginable. That’s what he said. I wonder if those families think we absorbed that attack very well?
Asked if the remarks fit a pattern of bloodless language from President Obama about the impact of the attacks that demonstrates a lack of understanding of what the victims’ families have gone through for the past nine years, Ms. Burlingame said the remarks spoke to a much greater danger.
“He has no idea of what families have gone through. I don’t know the context of the remarks. 9/11 is bigger than any one victim. It’s bigger really than any one plane crash. It’s not for nothing that FBI Director Muller, Secretary Napolitano and CIA chief Panetta told us that we are in much greater danger of coordinated attack now than we were on Jan 20, 2009. He doesn’t have a team in place that can stop one guy getting on the plane in the Netherlands with explosives in his underwear.
The American people are certainly resilient, but that doesn’t mean they want to be sitting ducks.
I wonder about an attack more catastrophic than 9/11. This is a president who refuses to give this war a name. Who refuses to acknowledge who the enemy is. He would rather launch predator strikes on people who can give us intelligence than have aggressive interrogations.
This is a President who thinks in political terms rather than in terms of leadership. And I think it is ironic that this is the same president who said we must have a 15 story mosque at Ground Zero where he thinks we absorbed the attacks so well.
Lastly, Ms. Burlingame said that President Obama is not doing enough in the was on terror. Asked if she thought al-Qaeda terrorists would care about the context of the remarks, or read them as a dare, she remembered a famous declaration of a former president.
“President Bush was criticized for saying ‘Bring ’em on!’ early in the war. He was saying Amer people are tough. This was President Obama saying that we can sustain an attack and handle it really well.
The difference in those two comments is Bush was a president who was putting every tool he had in his arsenal into the fight against the enemy. This is a president who has said we have to Mirandize terrorists on the battlefield. This is a president who dismantled Guantanamo, who is not prosecuting the 9/11 conspirators because of politics.
What is that saying to our enemy? It’s saying he is weak and not throwing everything he has into the fight and saying that those of us on the ground will be the ones to pick up the pieces. I’d be more forgiving about this if I thought he was throwing everything he had at this enemy. Obama says he doesn’t want a generational war. He’s going to get ten times a generational war if he continues with his timid policy of appeasement. And the American people are just going to have to take their licks.”