INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Media Reaction: Us, Us, Us;Berlin

Published: Thu 31 Dec 2009 01:38 PM
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FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
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RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 BERLIN 001630
STATE FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/PAPD, EUR/PPA, EUR/CE, INR/EUC, INR/P,
SECDEF FOR USDP/ISA/DSAA, DIA FOR DC-4A
VIENNA FOR CSBM, CSCE, PAA
"PERISHABLE INFORMATION -- DO NOT SERVICE"
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR CH GMUS
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: US, US, US;BERLIN
1. Lead Stories Summary
2. (U.S.) Impact of Failed Attack
3. (U.S.) Yemen, Guant namo
4. (Anti-Terrorism) Assessment of Passenger Screening
5. Look Back at 2009, Look Ahead to 2010
1. Lead Stories Summary
The main stories in the print media centered on chronologies of the
years 2000-2009. Die Welt carried an eight-page special.
Frankfurter
Allgemeine led with the headline: "America Prepares Strikes Against
Al-Qaida in Yemen," while Sueddeutsche focused on the establishment
of
a data base that will register the data of all 40 million gainfully
employed people in Germany. Under the headline: "Pilots: Duty Free
Shops Are a Risk," Tagesspiegel dealt with the debate about new
security measures at airports. Editorials focused on the economic
and general events in 2009 ZDF-TV's early evening newscast heute
opened with a report in which President Obama accused the U.S.
intelligence services of having failed, while ARD-TV's early
evening
newscast Tagesschau opened with a story on the debate over the
introduction of a new generation of full-body scanners.
The media this morning (12/31) again carried extensive coverage of
the
aftermath of the failed terrorist attack in the United States. Some
focused on the debate over the introduction of full body scanners to
prevent future attacks; others focus on the impact of the failed
attack on President Obama's reputation, while others are now
wondering
whether Yemen will be another front in the war on terror and whether
the President will now be able to close the Guant namo prison camp.
2. (U.S.) Impact of Failed Attack
Suedwest Presse of Ulm (12/31) criticized that "since the 9/11
attacks, the United States has constantly escalated entry
requirements. Nothing goes without biometric passports, without
registration in the Internet, without fingerprints, because an
alleged
tourist could in reality be a terrorist. Questions concerning his
menu aboard, details of the booking of his ticket should filter him
out of the list of the anonymous mass of harmless people. Now a
terrorist was aboard. U.S. agencies knew him, and he was considered
dangerous and even got a visa. This shows that the craze to collect
data, a move that has been lauded as a panacea, does not lead to
the
hoped-for results if investigators are drowning in the information
they have hoarded - or if they simply do a slovenly job."
In the view of Badische Zeitung of Freiburg (12/31), "Time will tell
whether it will turn out to be a scandal if the CIA does not ring
the
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alarm bell when a concerned father somewhere in western Africa
reports
of his wayward son. Nevertheless, Obama's fit of anger has its
reasons. The Republicans cleverly took advantage of the blunders.
But it was Obama who remained silent for much too long about the
attack, thus risking his credibility. He now wants to iron out his
mistake but he must beware of not shouting too loud. This, too, was
not very convincing either."
General-Anzeiger of Bonn (12/31) argued: "As far as politics is
concerned, much is at risk for Barack Obama. He could now easily
get
the reputation of being out of touch with reality, similarly like
his
predecessor George W. Bush with his harmless remarks following
hurricane Katrina. Unreliability is unforgivable, including for a
president."
Regional daily MQrkische Allgemeine of Potsdam (12/31) had this to
say: "It would be devastating for Barack Obama if the impression
grew
that he would be too lax at the anti-terror front. That is another
reason why his tirade against the sloppiness of his security
agencies
was so fierce. But even if he had used a softer tone, he cannot be
accused of having made great mistakes. He reacted faster than his
predecessor George W. Bush following the comparable terrorist attack
of the 'shoe bomber' in 2001; Obama did not minimize the danger,
called the mistake openly by name and announced the consequences.
Bush primarily played down the affair."
3. (U.S.) Yemen, Guant namo
In a report under the headline: "Guant namo Closure on a Knife's
Edge," Frankfurter Rundschau (12/31) wrote: "U.S. President Obama
gave
himself one year to eliminate the legacy from the Bush presidency's
anti-terror war, but it is becoming increasingly questionable
whether
he will be able to keep to his promise. This one-year deadline was
already over before the most recent incident and now the closure
could
be totally in question. The latest revelations that two of the
masterminds of the attack are former Guant namo prisoners are now
putting massive pressure on the President. The attack is supposed
to
have been planned in Yemen and the problem is that 90 of the 198
Guant namo prisoners are also Yemenites, and, according to Obama's
most recent security concept, many of them should be allowed to
return
home. Over the past few months, the Obama government had put aside
security concerns to make at least progress concerning the closure
of
Guant namo."
Die Welt (12/31) editorialized on its front-page under the headline:
"Obama and Yemen," that it is "uncontroversial that systems that are
supposed to protect airports are undermined by terrorists. As
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unwise
as President Obama's silence concerning the attack in Detroit was,
just as important is his admonition not to become hysterical....
Obama
will demonstrate his weakness or strength in his future treatment of
Yemen, Somalia and other terror hot spots. It should be obvious
that
conventional wars will not defeat, but recruit, fanatic religious
warriors. This should be obvious after Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama
is now likely to order missile and drone attacks more frequently in
Yemen, too. It would only be appropriate if his tone towards Iran
and
every other state that finances terrorist activities were sharper
and
sanctions more likely. Obama is neither a pacifist nor a softie.
He
will do what will best protect America. But while George W. Bush
failed to win the war on terror by using 'bring-them-on' gestures,
Barack Obama will succeed in using drones and diplomacy either. As
long as the Islamic world is not outraged, as long as imams,
politicians and mothers do not confront the lust for murder, the
longing for defeat, and the craze of young men wanting to feel that
they are the Chosen ones, there will be no end."
Frankfurter Allgemeine (12/31) opined: "Now it is becoming clear
that
not only the father of the Nigerian attacker informed the CIA but
that
U.S. agencies also had some information on a planned attack of a
Nigerian terrorist. If all this information had been correctly
connected, the young man would never have been able to board the
plane. Obama is right when he demands a radical investigation. For
what sense does it make to collect millions of pieces of data if
they
do not reach the agency they are supposed to reach? The President
will now also have to face new questions concerning the closure of
Guant namo. If it is right that the masterminds of this attack are
former Guant namo prisoners...then one should not be surprised at
the
resistance to Obama's plans to close the prison camp."
Mnchener Merkur (12/31) judged: "This late criticism of his
intelligence services does not change the fact that Barack Obama,
who
has otherwise demonstrated such a sure instinct, is not cutting a
good
figure against the background of this failed terror attack.... The
second problem has a foreign policy nature. The U.S. government
must
take note of the fact that, with Yemen, another dangerous bridgehead
of the al-Qaida network has developed, which is threatening the
United
States on its own territory and which should remind Obama in an
uncomfortable way of the origin of the Afghanistan conflict."
4. (Anti-Terrorism) Assessment of Passenger Screening
In the opinion of Die Welt (12/31), "those who want to keep their
freedom of movement as global citizens, should not be too whiny in
times of terrorism as citizens who have privacy, human dignity, and
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a
sense of shame. Freedom above the clouds has its price. It may be
that this reasoning will gain the upper hand, in the end, but the
least a civil society must keep in mind regarding the dilemma
between
freedom and security is the awareness of the price it will pay if,
as
it looks right now, it gives in to the brutal powers of persuasion
when it comes to thinking in security terms. The citizen who boards
a
plane must accept that he is considered a security risk. As a state
of emergency this can be tolerated, but as a permanent routine it
will
destroy a civil society."
Regional daily MQrkische Oderzeitung of Frankfurt on the Oder
(12/31)
opined: "No one knows whether the scanning of the Nigerian attacker
would have prevented the attempted terrorist attack right from the
start. With their maliciousness, terrorists are always in the lead.
Nevertheless, this can be no argument against full-body scanners.
Despite efforts to protect the privacy of passengers, the lives of
many others are at stake, and this must, in case of doubt, have
priority. Next to Islamic attackers, laws or humanity do not mean
anything."
Regional daily Coburger Tageblatt (12/31) had this to say: "A gulf
of
failures seems to be behind the thwarted attack on a Delta Airlines
aircraft. What should we think of the fact that intelligence
services
had information, but that this information seeped away in the jungle
of rivaling authorities? The United States has indefinitely
inflated
its security apparatus with 16 different intelligence services and
they have rather become the symbol of a bureaucracy based on a
collective security neurosis. But thus far, this bureaucracy has
not
proven that it is able to protect the country. And the passengers
are
wondering why they should tolerate all the harassment including to
be
scanned to their skin."
5. Look Back at 2009, Look Ahead to 2010
All papers (12/31) carried extensive coverage of the past year and
the
past decade and only a few looked ahead to 2010. Several papers
carried eight-page supplements on the past ten years. Sueddeutsche
Zeitung carried an editorial headlined: "The Failure of Politics,"
and
judged: "The big industrialized nations and the threshold countries
are treating their future in a stupid way. There are a lot of
negotiations, but there is no action. Seventy percent of Germans
said
in a recent opinion poll that they lost confidence in politics and
the
economy. The politicians' lust for power, empty promises, and the
sticking to traditional policies have resulted in the fact that
Germans are skeptical about 2010. This pessimism finds its
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expression
all over the world. If [politicians] do not succeed in massively
reducing the increase in greenhouse gases in the next decade, the UN
Climate Council is predicting an irreversible disintegration of the
global economic system and an end of civilization which we currently
consider comfortable."
Regional daily Westdeutsche Zeitung of Dsseldorf (12/31) observed:
"The vacuum that the U.S. loss of power has created may not be
filled
quickly enough. And the greatest problem is China's immaturity.
Without this new economic power, nothing goes in the world. But the
vast empire is neither willing nor able to do justice to its new
international responsibilities. These are not very good prospects
for
the next decade."
Regional daily Der Neue Tag of Weiden (12/31) opined: "Quite often
we
heard this year of a new start--a new start in the United States
with
Barack Obama at the helm, a new start in Berlin, or a new start in
relatioQ between the West and Islam. But on closer inspection,
these
many new starts were false starts, missed or blotched
opportunities....
The developments on the globe are getting too much for us, since
everything is taking place here and now. That is one reason alone
why
we would like to push the reset button, but it does not offer a
guarantee for success. It only symbolizes the belief in the
principle
of hope."
DELAWIE
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