Twenty top officials took a tongue-lashing from President Obama on Tuesday for their failure to "connect the dots" leading up to the averted Flight 253 attack. In private, he called the lapse a "screw up." In public, he opted for politer language, but kept up the stern tone. After a lackluster, off-key terror speech from Hawaii, commentators are analyzing what Obama's severer stance means, particularly for intelligence workers still reeling from the tragic killing of seven CIA officers by a double agent last week. Many also speculate on who should be fired and when.


  • Time to Update the 'Red Flag' Signals   Michael Scherer in Time says that Obama is going to revise the outdated intelligence triggers set in place under Bush. "Obama's team has decided that the old triggers that were put in place to flag intelligence analysts have not kept up with the evolving threat of al-Qaeda and its sympathizers...there is little doubt that a new tone has been set among Obama's senior staff."
  • Heads Must Roll  Steve Krakauer at Mediaite reports on the big networks' live reactions to the speech, noting a contradiction between Obama's statement and the controversy around DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. "This new, tough tone was noted on all three cable news networks after the speech, and one thing was almost universally agreed upon - someone needs to be fired to prove just how serious he really is."
  • But No Heads Are Rolling, Yet, writes Josh Gerstein for Politico. "While Obama has promised to hold officials accountable for the failures that led up to the Christmas attack, he gave no hint of any firings Tuesday. In fact, he said he's satisfied the Cabinet members and other top level appointees he met with are committed to fixing the problems that have been uncovered."
  • Firing Likely, but Not Who Pundits Expect, writes Joe Gandelman at the Moderate Voice. Gandelman also believes a firing is probable, but that it's not going to be someone obvious, and that it would likely happen "on Obama's timetable." He explains the logic: "Obama most likely realizes that if some officials didn't do their jobs and don't leave to spend more time with their families, then next time there could be grieving families and some Democratic members of Congress will have a lot more free time after the first week in November to be with their loved ones."