National Opinion

May 18, 2012 • Editorial

Congressional spending cuts

Anyone who wonders why the national approval rating for Congress hovers around 10 percent should consider the latest gambit by House Republicans. They are now trying to avoid the automatic budget cuts triggered by collapse of negotiations when the debt ceiling was raised last year. More specifically, they want to keep the automatic cuts opposed by Democrats and cancel theirs.

That’s ridiculous. Last July’s deal was designed to motivate both parties by triggering automatic budget cuts in January — half from defense, half from social programs. Yet now House Republicans want to reduce more spending on the social side and roll back some financial reforms instead. That [auth] plan will go nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

If Republicans or Democrats want to avoid “painful” budget cuts in January, they should put forth a realistic plan now. If they don’t, those spending cuts are better than nothing, and they should proceed.

Guest Editorial

Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise

New underwear bomb

This success isn’t a secret

It’s a truism in the spy world. Failures become public; successes remain secret.

Which makes this an unusual opportunity to salute the Central Intelligence Agency for the dramatic success in thwarting an al-Qaida plot to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner.

The would-be bomber reportedly was an agent for Saudi Arabian intelligence who had infiltrated the terrorist group in Yemen. The informant volunteered for the suicide mission, then handed over the non-metallic underwear bomb that was designed to foil airport security measures.

The double-agent also was able to deliver inside information about the terror operation to intelligence officials. That is believed to have helped the CIA direct a drone strike that killed the external operations director of Yemen’s al-Qaida branch. He also was a suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in 2000.

The work done by the CIA and its Saudi intelligence partner was impressive. The Yemen-based group is considered al-Qaida’s most active terror operation right now.

But the news also serves as a reminder that it’s a dangerous world out there.

Despite the many setbacks it has suffered, including the death of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida remains a determined adversary. Its top bomb-maker is still at large and believed to be teaching others his despicable craft. And while the sometimes intrusive security at U.S. airports has worked, there are serious concerns about security gaps for U.S.-bound flights from overseas.

Continued U.S. diligence, smart undercover work and developing solid international partnerships all are needed in the ongoing counterterrorism fight. Even if we never hear about their successes.

Guest Editorial

Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald

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