Speaking on Fox News Sunday about the latest Osama bin Laden video, White House Homeland Security advisor Frances Fragos Townsend told host Chris Wallace:
“Remember, the last audiotape was in June of ’06. The last video was just before the election in October of ’04. This is about the best he can do. This is a man on the run from a cave who is virtually impotent other than these tapes.”
And in case one thought the “impotent” comment might have been a slip made by an administration operative feeling defensive for failing to get the chief perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks, Townsend said it again on CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. Townsend:
“But you know, we ought to remember, six years since the tragedy of September the 11th, we haven’t seen another attack. This is a man on the run in a cave who is virtually impotent other than his ability to get these messages out. It’s propaganda.”
While the White House effort to reassure rather than frighten people is refreshing, and it understandably feels compelled to make excuses for why it has failed to devote the resources necessary to capture bin Laden, Townsend’s macho rhetoric seems strikingly ill advised and eerily reminiscent of Bush’s infamous “Bring ’em on.” More than 3,000 US lives have been lost to the insurgency and civil war in Iraq since his reckless comments. Let’s hope Townsend’s words don’t come back to haunt her — and us — in a similar fashion.