President Obama continues to say nothing to a jittery nation about what some who have been briefed on the danger are describing as the worst terrorist threat since 9/11, declining to either offer reassurance or an explanation of the peril the nation faces.
Certainly, the president does not want to take questions about a threat he had minimized during the 2012 campaign. But what’s striking is that he has not addressed the nation in a formal manner on the potential for a major attack.
Incredibly, the first question Obama might take on the situation could come from a comedian. Obama is scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno this evening in California, and the topic is sure to come up. He has an event earlier in the day, but it’s a campaign-style appearance at a high school in Phoenix, also an odd venue to be discussing potential terrorist attacks.
Not everyone has been excluded from receiving a high-level briefing. Vice President Joe Biden has met with members of Congress to discuss the threat, and some of the most specific information about what the United States is faced with has come from lawmakers.
Briefing reporters Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney did not minimize the problem. “This threat is significant and we are taking it seriously for that reason,” he said.
But Carney refused to specifically characterize the extent of the danger to the United States itself.
“I would say that the threat is emanating from and may be directed towards the Arabian Peninsula, but it is beyond that, potentially,” he said.
Avoiding sharing much useful information, Carney spoke generally of the administration’s stance on terror. “I think that the threat from al Qaeda and affiliated organizations to the United States and to the American people has been a reality that we’ve talked about for a long time now.”
Instead of a proper grilling on the issue, the best the press has been able to do is shout “happy birthday” to Obama as he returned from two-day celebration with friends at Camp David Sunday.