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Stern language from a cross president

Mark Mardell | 00:18 UK time, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

After President Obama's statement, one network pundit described him as "smouldering".

That rather summons images of a windswept Heathcliff, but he was certainly stern and cross.

We are used to politicians sliding around the blame game, happy to point fingers at their political opponents, but often unwilling to own up that Government has failed.

True, the president was very far from saying that he personally had made a mess of it, but look at his language:

"Our intelligence community failed to connect these dots... that's not acceptable and I will not tolerate it... it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence."

The president doesn't do anger easily, indeed was criticised for failing to emote fury after the plot itself, but it can't have been a comfortable meeting.

He was apparently blunter than in front of the cameras. One news agency quotes him as saying "it was a screw up, and we only just dodged the bullet".

But one of the reasons senior politicians don't often blame the people who work for them is that they are aware it could end in tears.

I am told that some in the CIA are feeling rather mistreated and unloved by this administration and, if not actually mutinous, are pretty disgruntled.

It is a dangerous business for governments to annoy the police or the military, and I guess the same goes for spies.


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