This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.
Some months ago, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for a quick and smooth transition period to lessen the nation's exposure to a potential attack at a vulnerable moment. Alluding to the danger, he said, "It's important for us to get as many principals in positions as rapidly as possible in a time of war." Apparently, President-elect Barack Obama believes it's a warning worth heeding.
Reports that he plans to keep Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on the job for an extended period, perhaps a year, suggest that the incoming commander in chief is going Admiral Mullen one better. By extending the tenure of Secretary Gates, Mr. Obama ensures that someone is minding the store while everyone else is busy moving in or out of office. Secretary Gates has the experience and authority in the field of national security to focus on threat reduction while the rest of the new national security team gets up to speed.
There should be no doubt that the danger is real. The absence of another big terrorist attack on this country following 9/11 should not mislead anyone into believing that terrorists have given up. On Wednesday, gunmen targeted a restaurant, luxury hotels and a crowded train station in coordinated attacks across India's financial capital, killing scores of people and taking Westerners hostage.
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