In the span of a few days in August of 2005, the Bush administration defined itself negatively for its leadership or lack thereof. Once defined as such, there was little the Bush administration could do to reverse the perception of that debacle.
The Obama administration had just such a moment in the aftermath of the Christmas Day attempted hijacking. It took President Obama several days to say something. Secretary Napolitano proclaimed that "the system worked".
That was just the beginning. Then, news leaked that Farouk was only interrogated for fifty minutes and then read his Miranda rights. Then, no one in the administration seemed to be involved in making the decision, and Robert Gibbs went so far as to claim that in those fifty minutes we got all that we could out of Farouk.
The Obama administration is now backpedaling on trying KSM et al in New York. It's even looking more and more likely that all will wind up still being tried at GITMO. That will be a source for embarrassment for the administration but it's a mistake that can be rectified. If, in fact, they come to their senses and try them in the right place, it won't define them.
With Farouk, there is no such second chance. There was a moment for leadership and in that moment, there was none. I believe the administration knows it. That's why a terrorism expert like John Brennan has turned into a political hack going anywhere with a megaphone to defend the indefensible. It's probably why the administration leaked that after five weeks Farouk was speaking again.
All of this has only made things worse. The administration screwed up badly by immediately treating Farouk as a criminal rather than an enemy in war. They screwed up just as badly by not having someone that looked as though they were in charge in the immediate aftermath of the attempted hijacking. Yet, they've made things worse by stubbornly defending all of this behavior. By doing so, they've continued to dig a hole created in December.
Please check out my new books, "Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall" and also, "The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers"