When I first saw this story, I considered it much ado about nothing. The director of the National Counterterrorism Center didn't cut his vacation short after the attempted Christmas bombing. So what? What was he supposed to do? The attack had already occurred, and the terrorist was in custody. The NCTC failed to prevent the attack, but the crisis was over. Why not continue on vacation? It's not like he couldn't be contacted if needed.
On the other hand... If you are the director of a national counterterrorism center, and an actual terrorist attack takes place in the U.S., that's kind of a major event for your organization. It's roughly similar to being the head of a city public transit authority, and having a couple of buses narrowly avoid a head-on collision, because your screening procedures failed to notice that one driver was an alcoholic. That sort of thing doesn't happen every day, and neither do nearly successful attempts to blow up airliners. It's the type of thing that generally does interfere with normally scheduled vacation time. From a purely public relations standpoint alone, continuing a vacation after such an event is pretty stupid, and just reinforces the strikingly incompetent reaction demonstrated by the Obama administration.
But, to return to my initial reaction... If the NCTC isn't capable of functioning without the director, if his presence is just that critical, then it probably isn't worth much in any case. Overall, I think the reaction to this story is an overreaction. It's very bad public relations, yes. And it's evidence of incompetence in the Obama administration -- but that's no surprise. In that department it's a minor blip compared to the stunning idiotic "the system worked" response of Janet Napolitano. But I don't think it the NCTC story says anything significant about national security.