SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. This morning, Indian commandos retook control of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, ending the violence in the siege that has killed nearly 200 people there this week. Joining us now to talk about Mumbai and all the week's news is NPR news analyst Juan Williams. Juan, thanks for being with us.

JUAN WILLIAMS: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: This was, so far as we can tell, a multi-pronged attack on the city of Mumbai. Let's review what we know about what happened these past few days.

WILLIAMS: Well, what we know is, so far, that, you know, the Bush administration has been warning repeatedly about the danger of elections and transition periods as being viewed by terrorists as windows of opportunity. And if you just stop and understand that in fact there are five, now, state elections in progress in India - in fact, I believe today in Delhi their election is taking place.

And four years ago, there were, you know, a coalition government in India was thrown out because in the national elections there were two - just before the national elections, I should say, they were two terror incidents - a suicide attack on parliament back in '01. And then you throw in with that the whole idea of concern over what has taken place in other countries.

Benazir Bhutto in '07, for example, there were general elections coming up in Pakistan, or you stop and think about '04 in Madrid, when there were attacks there, and again, clear evidence that it was tied to the terrorists' interest in having Spain pull out of - pull troops out in Iraq.

So we know there's a pattern here, and apparently the terrorists have struck again in terms of getting involved in this local election transition period.

SIMON: A transition period here in the United States, too. And of course, we are told that the White House and the White House staff-to-be have an unusual degree of coordination.

WILLIAMS: They do. In fact, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with President-elect Obama on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, has followed up, and then the State Department has an entire unit now dedicated to working with the transition team representing President-elect Obama so that he can be aware of all that's going on.

This is kind of an odd situation because he's not in charge. This is President Bush's watch. But at the same time, President Bush has made a real show of trying to make it possible for the Obama team to get early clearances. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, of course, has been briefing Obama, and that's, of course, with President Bush's approval so that President-elect Obama finds himself not only confronted with an economic crisis, but now he's having to deal with what is prospectively a terror crisis that will continue into his time in office.

SIMON: As we speak, there has not been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. And in the waning days of the Bush administration, is this something to note?

WILLIAMS: It is. I think that, in fact, if you talk to the Bush people they make a point that the American people have become rather content and a little bit comfortable with the fact that there have been no recent attacks. But from their perspective, they've been working very aggressively to prevent any attacks, and they feel as if, look, you know what, part of our legacy, without a doubt, has to be that there were no subsequent attacks to 9/11. And who would have guessed that now more than seven years later?

SIMON: President-elect Obama had a major announcement about his new economic team, and for that matter, national security team this week. And I will note, The Nation magazine criticized some of those choices. The Wall Street Journal thought they were just fine.

WILLIAMS: Irony, irony, irony. I mean, when you go on the blogs - you know, the left-wing bloggers are up in arms, and there's concern about exactly the lack of liberals or progressives, however you want to term it, especially on his national security team where he's got General Jim Jones as the national security adviser, where you're keeping Bob Gates as the secretary of defense. Both Republicans, I might add, Scott. And then you're bringing in Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

So these are all people who were not in support of immediate withdrawal from Iraq, which was, of course, the large tenant - in some ways, the center pole - of Barack Obama's campaign.

And then when you turn to the economic side and you get people like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers in place, again, people are saying, wait a second. These are folks who've been involved with the current status on Wall Street, all the corruption, the problems. They're all acolytes of Rubin, and you know, they're saying to themselves, wait a second. What happened to change and what about new faces in Washington instead of the same old gang?

And so there's a little bit of upset there, but I don't - at the moment, it looks like there's no fire against Barack Obama from the left of any substance. I think he still has such a deep well of goodwill.

SIMON: Thanks very much, NPR's Juan Williams. And by the way, you join us in our first Open Mic vlog on npr.org/soapbox.

WILLIAMS: It was fun.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.