Over its head

Although several observers are crediting angst over the president's radical health care agenda with pushing Republican Scott Brown to victory in the Massachusetts Senate race, the winner himself said Wednesday that the Obama approach to spending, taxes and terrorism were also of great concern to many voters.

And indeed they should be. Take terrorism, for example.

On Wednesday, Dennis Blair, the nation's director of national intelligence, testified in the Senate that the Christmas underwear bomber should have been treated as a terrorist, rather than a criminal defendant.

Mr. Blair went on to say that he was never consulted as to whether Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to blow up a home-made bomb as a Northwest Airlines flight descended toward Detroit, should have been questioned by a recently created interrogation unit designed to get information out of terror suspects.

"That unit was created exactly for this purpose," Mr. Blair said. "We did not invoke (it) in this case. We should have."

During the same hearing, both Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Michael Leiter, chief of the National Counter Terrorism Center, made similar comments, saying they were never asked about whether to use the unit.

So three of the country's top anti-terror officials were left out of the loop on the underwear bomber. Meantime, instead of letting a special interrogation group take a crack at the terror suspect, the administration allows him to lawyer-up while he sits in a Michigan jail cell awaiting a criminal trial.

Mr. Blair's comments should give pause even to Mr. Obama's most passionate defenders because they reveal an administration that increasingly-- and distressingly -- appears over its head on a number of vital fronts.