* See correction below *
MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer is bummed the man who put a car bomb in Times Square isn't a right winger.
"There was part of me that was hoping that this was not going to be anybody with ties to any kind of Islamic country because there are a lot of people who want to use this terrorist intent to justify writing off people who believe in a certain way or who come from certain countries or whose skin color is a certain way," she said on a radio show Tuesday.
Apparently, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also was bummed to learn the bomber was Faisal Shahzad, 30, a naturalized citizen of Pakistani extraction living in Connecticut.
On Monday, Mr. Bloomberg told Katie Couric of CBS the bomber might be "homegrown, maybe a mentally deranged person or someone with a political agenda who doesn't like the health care bill or something."
When he learned the truth, Mayor Bloomberg did not apologize for his smear of people who don't like Obamacare. Instead, he smeared the people of New York City.
"We are not going to tolerate any backlash against Middle Easterners or Muslims in New York City," he said.
There was no indication there would be such a backlash. And if there wasn't one after 9/11, it is insulting to New Yorkers to assume there would be after Mr. Shahzad's botched attempt.
We've seen this before. When Maj. Nidal Hasan murdered 13 and injured 32 at Fort Hood last November, the concern expressed by the Army's chief of staff wasn't for the safety of his soldiers.
"I'm concerned that this increased speculation (about Maj. Hasan's motive) could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers," Gen. George Casey told CNN.
Maj. Hasan's motive soon became clear. He's a jihadi with ties to terrorists. Mr. Shahzad has confessed to authorities he attended a terrorist training camp during a five-month visit to Pakistan last year.
Little has changed since December, when Umar Abdulmutallab, the "underwear bomber," was permitted to board a U.S.-bound flight in the Netherlands. Mr. Abdulmuttalab wasn't on the "no-fly" list, despite the fact the British government and his own father had warned U.S. authorities about him.
Mr. Shahzad was arrested on an airplane bound for Dubai. The plane had already left the gate, and had to be called back.
"Authorities said that despite the manhunt, his passport had not been flagged and he was able to buy a ticket with cash and clear airport security," reported ABC's Brian Ross.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who famously said "the system worked" in the case of the underwear bomber, was clueless once again.
"Right now, we have no evidence that it is anything other than a one-off," Ms. Napolitano told Jake Tapper of ABC Sunday hours after the Times Square bomb was discovered.
It would have been convenient for the administration if it had been a one-off. It's very difficult to identify a lone nut before he or she acts, so no reasonable person could blame the administration for failing to stop him or her. But inability to detect as large a plot as that Mr. Shahzad was involved in -- especially with a conspirator as inept as Mr. Shahzad seems to have been -- smacks of intelligence failure.
This is especially so in light of a report in The New York Times Wednesday that a man who had bought a condominium from Mr. Shahzad had been interviewed about him in 2004 by investigators for the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
We were spared from disaster by Mr. Shahzad's deficiencies as a bomb maker, not by any action of the federal government.
Ms. Napolitano has downplayed the use of the word "terror" in her department. But calling an act of terror a "man-caused disaster" doesn't make it go away. It's hard to stop a terrorist if you deny his existence.
None of the four acts of Muslim terror in America since Barack Obama became president have been followed by vigilantism. Americans are able to distinguish between the vast majority of Muslims here who are law abiding and the few who want to kill us. The reluctance of the administration and many journalists to acknowledge there are some who want to kill us is an invitation to catastrophe.
* Correction: This column originally described Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad as "a registered Democrat in Connecticut." Voter registration officials in Bridgeport and Shelton, the two communities in which Mr. Shahzad lived, say he was not registered to vote there.>
Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Post-Gazette and The (Toledo) Blade ( firstname.lastname@example.org , 412 263-1476).