We invaded Syria with 60 people. Six-zero.
The outcome was the one you might predict when you invade with 60 people. I haven’t the words to describe this administration. Feckless seems so inadequate.
With everything going on in the Middle East right now, the Navy is pulling out of the Persian Gulf:
The U.S. Navy will not have an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf this fall for the first time in years, President Obama’s nominee to be the Navy’s top officer told Capitol Hill lawmakers Thursday.
The gap in the Gulf — expected to last two months — would come at a time when the U.S. is not only launching sustained airstrikes against nearby Islamic State targets but trying to keep a check on Iranian aggression in the region.
But don’t you worry, the French are on the case:
Fox News is told that when she departs the area sometime this fall, the U.S. military may rely on a French aircraft carrier until they can deploy another carrier.
Well, France has always been a stalwart ally, particularly in the war on terror. I’m sure this will work out fine.
The NYT reports:
The United States recovered thousands of old chemical weapons in Iraq from 2004 to 2009 and destroyed almost all of them in secret and via open-air detonation, according to a written summary of its activities prepared by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international body that monitors implementation of the global chemical weapons treaty. . .
It included a table disclosing limited details on 95 separate recoveries and destructions of chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, for a total of 4,530 munitions from May 2004 through February 2009 — a period of often intense fighting in Iraq.
The United States later recovered more Iraqi chemical weapons, pushing its tally to 4,996 by early 2011, according to redacted intelligence documents obtained by The Times via the Freedom of Information Act.
The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials.
The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
Most people believe that Bush was wrong (or even lied) about Iraqi WMDs. As this illustrates, he was not. Nevertheless, the Bush administration has no one to blame but themselves. They knew this stuff back when they were being accused of lying about WMDs, but they never bothered to put it out there. Now the truth is out, but no one is paying attention.
Fox News reports:
As early as May, the Obama administration had strong and specific information about the location of American James Foley and other hostages held in Syria, a source close to the discussions told Fox News, but the rescue mission was not approved until early July.
The gap raises new and compelling questions about whether the operation to save the American and British hostages was unnecessarily delayed for at least five weeks because the administration wanted the intelligence to develop further. . .
Other sources backed up the account provided to Fox News. The timeline seems to conflict with administration claims that the White House signed off on the operation as soon as the intelligence allowed.
Anyone can make mistakes, but these guys never own up to anything.
Old and busted: “There were no WMDs in Iraq. Bush lied!” New hotness: “There were lots of WMDs in Iraq. Bush lied!”
Yes, in a story so bizarre I can scarcely believe I’m seeing it, the New York Times is attacking President Bush for covering up all the chemical weapons that have been found in Iraq:
From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule. In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
“What?!” you say, “Chemical weapons were found in Iraq? So Bush is vindicated!”
Not so fast, the New York Times spin-machine is on the case. You see, the weapons they found were — the NYT insists — the wrong ones:
The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.
To understand what they are talking about, we need to think back to 1998. In 1998, Saddam Hussein ejected weapons inspectors from Iraq after they discovered Saddam was hiding chemical weapons from inspectors. It defies logic that Saddam would destroy his chemical arsenal after ejecting weapons inspectors, but would do so in secret so sanctions could remain in place. In 2003, it seemed certain they were still there. But we didn’t find them.
So what became of them? One theory says that most of them were shipped to Syria. This theory is supported by reports from Iraqi defectors, second-hand accounts from Russians who reportedly assisted, satellite imagery, and witnesses on the ground. But none of it is conclusive. (ASIDE: A well-cited Wired article says categorically that it didn’t happen. It’s evidence is two-fold: (a) Saddam wouldn’t have done it, and (b) if he had, there would have been satellite evidence. But (a) is pure conjecture, and there was satellite evidence.)
But even if much or most of them were shipped to Syria, it seemed unlikely that all of them could have been, particularly in light of the Duelfer report’s conclusion that if weapons were shipped to Syria, it was done unofficially. So the question remained, what became of them?
Now we know. They were still in Iraq, scattered here and there. Thousands of them.
Why are we only hearing about this now? The Bush administration decided not to talk about the weapons after the war, preferring to move forward than re-argue the past. This was a terrible decision, as it allowed the left to build up a mythology of the Iraq war unchallenged. The left, of course, didn’t want to talk about it because it contracted that very mythology it was constructing.
So why are we hearing about it now? Because — good news! — those weapons are now in the hands of ISIS. When ISIS uses them, as surely they will, the news would come out, so they want to get their story straight now.
But how do they do that? After years of “Bush lied!” how do they admit the weapons were there all along? And more importantly, how do they admit that, and yet not see Bush vindicated? Well, the New York Times rose to the challenge.
The key is to make a distinction between old weapons and new ones:
The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.
and, just to be totally clear:
The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.
The new story goes like this: we were told there was an active weapons program, and they never said anything about old weapons, so Bush still lied!
In fact, the new story is a lie. Bush never drew such a distinction. The New York Times offers not a single line from any speech in support of it. Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades goes through all of Bush’s most famous speeches and finds not one in which he focused on new weapons to the exclusion of old ones.
In fact, the last quote above (“did not support . . . the rationale”) doesn’t even fit into the flow of the story. It looks like it was inserted by an editor who was concerned that the story was not sufficiently clear that the “Bush lied!” narrative is still in effect. The New York Times sets the agenda for leftist spin, so it’s important to make it clear.
But the story goes further. It not only charges Bush with lying about the new weapons, it actually alleges that the government covered up the old ones. That strikes me as trying too hard. Sure, Bush — unwisely — preferred not to talk about the WMD issue after the war, but is anyone going to believe that he would actually cover the evidence that would exonerate him? That doesn’t even make sense.
Our narrative makes more sense, and also has the benefit of being true: The United States and its allies invaded Iraq to build a stable democracy in the Middle East and to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists. By early 2008, both aims seemed accomplished: Iraq was stable and had soldiers guarding Al Muthanna and other sites. Then Obama abandoned Iraq and both accomplishments collapsed.
This story, published a few weeks ago, seems to have settled into obscurity for now. But when ISIS uses these weapons, as seems woefully inevitable, it will be everywhere.
Senior Defense and intelligence officials say the vast majority of detainees released from Guantanamo don’t return to the fight — and of those who do, relatively few have made it to Syria.
Of the 620 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay, 180 have returned or are suspected to have returned to the battlefield.
Rest assured, only about a quarter of those released from Guantanamo Bay have returned to terrorism. Awesome.
Just a few weeks ago, President Obama was proclaiming his success in destroying Syria’s chemical weapons:
Today we mark an important achievement in our ongoing effort to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction by eliminating Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile. The most lethal declared chemical weapons possessed by the Syrian regime were destroyed by dedicated U.S. civilian and military professionals using a unique American capability aboard the M/V Cape Ray – and they did so aboard that U.S. vessel several weeks ahead of schedule.
The United States expressed concern on Thursday that Syria’s government might be harboring undeclared chemical weapons, hidden from the internationally led operation to purge them over the past year, and that Islamist militant extremists now ensconced in that country could possibly seize control of them.
After Obama ignored ISIS when American intervention could have been decisive, and continued to ignore ISIS as they unleashed a reign of terror across northern Iraq, the ISIS’s horrifying genocide finally shamed Obama into action:
Arguing that the U.S. could not ignore the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, President Obama Thursday night announced that he had authorized limited air strikes, one of the boldest military moves of his presidency.
Except not really:
U.S. fighter jets launched a “targeted” airstrike on Friday against Islamic militants in Iraq, just hours after President Obama authorized military action to protect U.S. personnel and Iraqi civilians.
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Friday that two F/A-18 jets dropped 500-pound bombs on a piece of artillery and the truck towing it. The Pentagon said the military conducted the strike at 6:45 a.m. ET, against terrorists with the Islamic State (IS), the group formerly known as ISIS.
We bombed one artillery piece. That’ll show ’em.
Still, this action might make the enemy nervous. Except Obama took pains to reassure the enemy:
As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.
It’s a basic tenet of foreign crisis management always to be ambiguous about how far you will go. Ambiguity is a powerful weapon; it forces the enemy to worry about your full capabilities, rather than your self-imposed limits. If you want to have a significant impact, you never rule out doing more.
Unless you’re an idiot, or you just don’t care.
UPDATE: Subsequently, we did bomb ISIS some more, which is good.
The Russian Navy Some people having no connection to Russia whatsoever has sunk an old Russian warship to block the exit from Ukraine’s naval base in Crimea.
Years ago, liberals made an ideological commitment to the idea that missile defense was impossible. It’s easy to understand how: Reagan was for it, and liberals were against everything he was for. Why they’ve never been able to shed that position in the ensuing decades is truly a puzzler. Despite all the things modern technology has accomplished (including successes in missile defense!), missile defense is the one thing that liberals believe is impossible.
But while America’s implementation of missile defense has been desultory, Israel hasn’t had the luxury of being able to accommodate its defense nay-sayers. They have implemented a system, and it works. Their Iron Dome system shoots down incoming rockets from Gaza, allowing their citizens to live normal lives while under constant attack.
But it’s expensive, so the Israelis have developed a cheaper solution:
At $100,000 a pop, missile interception isn’t cheap. And that’s why Israel is investigating lasers. Last week Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, the company behind the Iron Dome, unveiled its new Iron Beam system, a less expensive and more versatile laser-based addition to Israel’s defensive arsenal. The Iron Beam, which could be deployed as early as 2015, will reportedly vaporize short-range rockets, mortars, and even drones using high-kilowatt lasers.
“It’s exactly like what you see in Star Wars,” Amit Zimmer, a company spokesperson, told the Associated Press. “You see the lasers go up so quickly, like a flash, and the target is finished.”
I’ll be watching this with interest. The liberals have been very clear that shooting down missiles with lasers is impossible.
Russian President Vladimir Putin received permission Saturday from parliament to mobilize the country’s military in Ukraine.
Putin says the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea. The request comes a day after President Obama warned Moscow that “there will be costs” if it intervenes militarily in Ukraine.
Putin move appears to formalize what Ukrainian officials described as an ongoing deployment of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea. His motion loosely refers to the “territory of Ukraine” rather than specifically to Crimea, raising the possibility that Moscow could use military force in other Russian-speaking provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine where many oppose the new authorities in Kiev.
Obviously Putin doesn’t need parliamentary permission to do anything, so this amounts to an announcement.
As it turns out, the United States is obligated by treaty to come to Ukraine’s aid:
A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin’s troops cross into the country. Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine – agreed to the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Technically it means that if Russia has invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going to war.
Oh, please. Obama doesn’t even obey his own health care law that he advocated and signed himself. Do you think he’s going to war because of a treaty? Hardly.
POSTSCRIPT: Now we have to take a trip down memory lane. Remember this “gaffe”?
uh oh. New Romney gaffe. He just called Russia the “number one geopolitical foe” of the United States. @wolfblitzer called him out.
Ha ha, what a dope. To his credit, Romney stuck to his guns despite mockery from the liberal media.
And then there’s this:
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin warned that if Senator Barack Obama were elected president, his “indecision” and “moral equivalence” may encourage Russia’s Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. . .
For those comments, she was mocked by the high-brow Foreign Policy magazine and its editor Blake Hounshell, who now is one of the editors of Politico magazine. . . Hounshell wrote then that Palin’s comments were “strange” and “this is an extremely far-fetched scenario.”
Far-fetched indeed. This reminds me of how Ronald Reagan understood the Soviet Union much better than any of the foreign-policy “experts” who mocked him.
A young Afghan girl has been detained wearing a suicide vest in southern Afghanistan, officials say. She was held on Sunday night in Helmand province, as she tried to carry out an attack on border police, an interior ministry spokesman told the BBC.
The girl, reported to be as young as eight and thought to be the sister of a prominent Taliban commander, is said to be in a state of shock and confusion. Police told the BBC she was encouraged to carry out the attack by her brother.
His own eight-year-old sister.
The next time we get the idiotic idea of trying to negotiate with these barbarians, we need to remember that they are pure evil.
This is just brilliant:
The Pentagon waived laws prohibiting Chinese-made parts on U.S. weapons repeatedly for Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter program in order to keep it on track, Reuters reports.
Chief Pentagon weapons buyer Frank Kendall allowed two subcontractors, Northrop Grumman and Honeywell International, to use Chinese magnets for the plane’s radar, landing gears and other hardware, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.
Fox News reports:
Violence in Iraq soared in 2013 to levels not seen in years, U.N. officials reported this week, stoking concerns that the country is descending into the kind of sectarian bloodshed that gripped the country before the U.S. troop surge.
The United Nations said 7,818 civilians were killed in 2013, a return to 2008 levels. The startling figure follows warnings from lawmakers and analysts that the violence threatens to undo hard-fought gains by the United States.
Al-Qaeda-affiliated gangs are fighting in the streets of Fallujah and Ramadi. This illustrates that the Sunnis of Anbar are so disillusioned with the Maliki government that the population is turning a blind eye to the presence of radicals. Terrorist gangs do not drive into cities unless they are confident that the residents will not betray or take up arms against them.
Remember that in 2010, Iraq was so quiet, the Obama administration was actually trying to take credit for it. But President Obama took steps to make sure that we have no influence there, and Iraq is now crumbling.
Could there be any doubt which consideration would prevail?
More than half of female Marines in boot camp can’t do three pull-ups, the minimum standard that was supposed to take effect with the new year, prompting the Marine Corps to delay the requirement, part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs. . .
The Marines had hoped to institute the pull-ups on the belief that pull-ups require the muscular strength necessary to perform common military tasks such as scaling a wall, climbing up a rope or lifting and carrying heavy munitions.
What business is the military in, anyway?
What? Channeling military assistance to Islamist rebels in Syria hasn’t worked out well? Who could have predicted that such a thing might happen?
Oh, that’s right, everyone.
The Obama administration is illegally using DOD communication systems for political communications.
Yet another Bush-era War on Terror policy that Obama pretended to abhor before adopting himself:
Instead of sending suspected terrorists to Guantanamo Bay or secret CIA “black” sites for interrogation, the Obama administration is questioning terrorists for as long as it takes aboard US naval vessels. . . Questioning suspected terrorists aboard US warships in international waters is President Barack Obama’s answer to the Bush administration detention policies that candidate Obama promised to end. . .
By holding people in secret prisons, known as black sites, the CIA was able to question them over long periods, using the harshest interrogation tactics, without giving them access to lawyers. Obama came to office without a ready replacement for those secret prisons. . . With the black sites closed and Obama refusing to send more people to the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it wasn’t obvious where the US would hold people for interrogation.
And that’s where the warships came in.
I’m sure the Obama administration would say that questioning terrorists on ships is completely different than doing it on land. They would probably even say it with a straight face. They’re good at that.
Fox News reports:
Highly sensitive U.S. military equipment stored in Libya was stolen over the summer by groups likely aligned and working with terrorist organizations, State Department sources told Fox News — in raids that contributed to the decision to pull Special Forces personnel from the country.
The stolen equipment had been used by U.S. Special Forces stationed in the country. Lost in the raids in late July and early August were dozens of M4 rifles, night-vision technology and lasers used as aiming devices that are mounted on guns and can only be seen with night-vision equipment.
This happened on two separate occasions:
Located just outside of Tripoli, the camp was supposed to be secured each night by Libyan forces. But on two occasions, the camp was attacked and raided by either militia members or groups affiliated with terrorist organizations.
It’s astonishing that, after the Benghazi debacle, we would trust Libyan forces to secure anything at all. That we would continue to trust them after they were already penetrated once is inexcusable.
After the British House of Commons refused to support President Obama’s ill-considered action in Syria, the US military is shutting out the British from US military planning.
I guess these fools really don’t understand that this sort of pettiness can have long-term geopolitical consequences. I just hope that the British government is more grown-up than we are.
A year after the Benghazi debacle, the Guardian looks at how the official government story is a bunch of nonsense. But, this is nothing new; on September 13, 2012, it was already clear that the official government story was a bunch of nonsense.
This, sadly, will always be the three-fold legacy of Benghazi: An awful terrorist attack. In the heart of a presidential campaign, a desperate cover-up. And shameful water-carrying by the media, without which the cover-up never could have succeeded.
For the record, I generally tend to support military action against our enemies abroad, provided that it is feasible and serves our interests to do so. But before we can say whether the action is feasible and serves our interests, we need to know the objective. What is the objective in military action against Syria? No one seems to know!
John McCain thinks that regime change should be the objective, and actually got that objective written into the resolution that passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Strangely, the Democrats didn’t seem to care much what the resolution actually said.) But seeking regime change seems foolish now, since the only rebels still in action against Assad are Islamists who are more dangerous to us than Assad. Regime change would have been a good policy a year ago, when there were still elements in the Syrian civil war who were secular and friendly to the west. But thanks to President Obama’s inaction, those people are all dead or scattered now. Regime change now would serve only to replace an enemy with a worse enemy. (We could effect regime change by occupying the country and installing a new regime ourselves, but that’s obviously not in the cards.)
In any case, regime change is categorically not the aim of the Obama administration, who are pledging to wage an “unbelievably small” campaign. Yes, John Kerry, the Secretary of State (God help us), really did say that. Or, even more bizarrely:
A second senior official, who has seen the most recent planning, offered this metaphor to describe such a strike: If Assad is eating Cheerios, we’re going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he’ll still be able to eat Cheerios.
I won’t pretend to understand the Cheerios-with-a-fork analogy, but one thing is certain, if they had an actual objective (e.g., reverse the communist coup in Grenada, destroy Al Qaeda’s safe haven in Afghanistan, end Saddam Hussein’s regime), they would express it, and wouldn’t need to resort to this drivel.
Even a very limited objective such as “punish Bashar Assad” might serve, if the attack were to be directed at him personally, but that too is clearly not what they are planning. And, moreover, now that Assad has had weeks of advance warning, it can’t be done anyway. (As Mitch McConnell put it, you don’t send out a “save the date” card to the enemy!)
The bottom line of all of this is that we should not launch an attack against Syria, unless and until we figure out what the purpose for such an attack would be.
However, what Congress should do in regard to authorization is a different question. President Obama did not need to seek and should not have sought Congressional authorization for the kind of action he is contemplating. A limited strike is well within the powers of the commander-in-chief, even under the War Powers Act, which is a dead letter anyway.
But we are where we are. Obama did seek authorization, and Congress ought to grant it. We have only one president at a time, and we need that president’s words to have credibility abroad. We can’t do anything about the problem of President Obama damaging his own credibility with ill-considered, off-the-cuff threats, but we can make sure that he is not further undermined by his own government. (Yes, it’s true, when Democrats controlled Congress they did everything they could to undermine President Bush abroad, but the fact that Democrats did it first would make it no less irresponsible.)
This is not to say that Congress should pass a resolution in favor of an attack against Syria. As above, an attack is a terrible idea at this juncture, and Congress should not pretend otherwise. Instead, Congress should pass a resolution affirming the commander-in-chief’s constitutional authority to take necessary steps to protect US interests in regard to Syria. Basically, Congress should say, “you’re the president, do what you need to do.”
Such a resolution would maintain the president’s credibility abroad (so far as that’s possible) and also side-step the trap that Obama is trying to lay to Republicans. He knows that his policy is desperately unpopular, and he is trying to pass the buck. (Or, as NBC puts it, he is trying to “unilaterally widen the circle of responsibility.”) By affirming the president’s authority without approving of his policy, Congress passes the buck back to the president, where it belongs.
Unfortunately, it’s clear that that’s not going to happen. Feckless in all aspects of this crisis, Obama has done nothing to rally Congress to support him. The word from Capitol Hill is that he doesn’t have the votes either in the House, or even in the Democrat-controlled Senate. That, and not the ridiculous Russian peace proposal, is the reason Obama asked Congress to postpone voting on authorization.
Today our president is contemplating war without a coalition, without Congressional approval, and with disapproval of 50% of the American people. I’m so glad the we got rid of the cowboy unilateralist.
But wait, there’s more. Remember our dear multi-lateralist president’s position on military action?
The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
And the vice-president’s courageous stand against a unilateral attack?
I want to make it clear. And I made it clear to the President that if he takes this nation to war in Iran without Congressional approval, I will make it my business to impeach him. That’s a fact. That is a fact.
A U.S. official briefed on the military options being considered by President Obama told the Los Angeles Times that the White House is seeking a strike on Syria “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”
“They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic,” the official told the paper, giving credence to similar reports describing a limited military strike in the aftermath of last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack.
“Just enough to be more than symbolic”? What does that even mean?
If it’s not symbolic, which is to say substantive, that means that we have an objective and allocate sufficient force to achieve it. You can’t just say your objective is “not to be symbolic,” that’s just circular reasoning.
(Via Hot Air.)
Attempting to quell criticism of his proposal for a limited military mission in Syria, President Obama floated a more modest strategy today, saying that any U.S. action in Syria would have “no objective whatsoever.”
A resurgence of violence and a renewed threat from al-Qaida have recently revived flagging U.S. interest in Iraq, officials said Friday as Baghdad asked for new help to fight extremists less than two years after it forced American troops to withdraw.
I can understand the temptation to say to hell with you people, but that would be petty. We should make a serious effort to work out an agreement in which we can do this: First, because we still want to crush Al Qaeda. Second, because we still have a vested interest in Iraq not collapsing. Third, because it might develop into greater influence for ourselves in Iraq. And fourth, because if we don’t it might develop into greater influence for Russia.
All that said, I fear we won’t, because I doubt President Obama has enough (or any) interest in developing such an agreement. He didn’t care enough to work out a status of forces agreement before, and I don’t see that anything has changed.
Barack Obama just isn’t a very good lawyer at all, is he?
Two defendants in military sexual assault cases cannot be punitively discharged, if found guilty, because of “unlawful command influence” derived from comments made by President Barack Obama, a judge ruled in a Hawaii military court this week.
Navy Judge Cmdr. Marcus Fulton ruled during pretrial hearings in two sexual assault cases — U.S. vs. Johnson and U.S. vs. Fuentes — that comments made by Obama as commander in chief would unduly influence any potential sentencing, according to a court documents obtained by Stars and Stripes. . .
“The bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this,” Obama said, according to an NBC News story submitted as evidence by defense attorneys in the sexual assault cases.
‘I expect consequences,” Obama added. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”
Obama sounded off without bothering to learn of the legal ramifications of a commander ordering a trial to deliver a certain sentence. His unlawful order has prevented exactly what he demanded.
His ill-considered action has tainted at least a dozen sexual assault prosecutions already. Two cases have been dismissed already.
Military law experts said that those cases were only the beginning and that the president’s remarks were certain to complicate almost all prosecutions for sexual assault. . .
“His remarks were more specific than I’ve ever heard a commander in chief get,” said Thomas J. Romig, a former judge advocate general of the Army and the dean of the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kan. “When the commander in chief says they will be dishonorably discharged, that’s a pretty specific message. Every military defense counsel will make a motion about this.”
POSTSCRIPT: I’ll admit, I didn’t know about unlawful command influence before either. But then, I’m not the president.
After repeated attacks on the rights of members of the armed forces to practice their religion, a corrective is necessary. The House’s defense bill for 2014 includes a provision that would protect servicemen and women’s religious freedom except in cases of military necessity.
Naturally, President Obama has threatened a veto.
One persistent question regarding the Benghazi debacle is what Ambassador Chris Stevens was doing in Benghazi in the first place. Now whistleblowers have stepped forward to answer the question, and their story, if true, is extremely troubling:
Stevens’ mission in Benghazi, they will say, was to buy back Stinger missiles from al-Qaeda groups issued to them by the State Department, not by the CIA. Such a mission would usually be a CIA effort, but the intelligence agency had opposed the idea because of the high risk involved in arming “insurgents” with powerful weapons that endanger civilian aircraft.
I hope this isn’t true. Most obviously because I hope Al Qaeda doesn’t have Stingers, but also because I hate the idea that our government could be this naive, even with Obama in office. I supported overthrowing Qaddafi, but certainly not giving high-tech weapons to Islamist militias with ties to Al Qaeda.
When the sub-scandal over the Obama administration’s bogus Benghazi talking points erupted, the White House initially attempted to scapegoat the CIA, saying that the talking points were prepared by the intelligence community. This turned out to be a complete and utter lie.
Now the new line is that the Benghazi talking points where David Petraeus’s fault, because his office prepared the first draft (ASIDE: In CIA people are responsible for what their offices do? Interesting.), which contained too much information. How exactly that excuses the State Department for insisting on talking points filled with lies is beyond me. In the end, Petraeus wanted to scuttle the talking points but was overruled.
POSTSCRIPT: The story is unsourced, but clearly comes from the White House, since the White House is the only group it portrays in an entirely positive light. One thing it says in particular:
The only government entity that did not object to the detailed talking points produced with Petraeus’s input was the White House, which played the role of mediator in the bureaucratic fight that at various points included the CIA’s top lawyer and the agency’s deputy director expressing opposition to what the director wanted.
Oh my. In fact, we don’t know anything about the role the White House played in the corruption of the talking points. The publicly released emails don’t contain any input from the White House until after the draft was already filled with misinformation. This might mean that they didn’t object, or it might mean that the White House’s early emails were not among the ones released.
But what we do know is that in the White House’s “mediator” role it ultimately sided with the State Department and the bogus talking points. And we know that the White House was concerned with the “messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression.” Of course, the “hardened mis-impression” they wanted to avoid was actually the truth.
President Obama wants to declare victory in the war on terror:
I intend to engage Congress about the existing Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, to determine how we can continue to fight terrorism without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.
The AUMF is now nearly 12 years old. The Afghan war is coming to an end. Core al Qaeda is a shell of its former self. Groups like AQAP must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States. . .
So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.
Although it’s hardly an original observation, Obama is right that we don’t want to be on a war footing forever. But aspirations are not realities.
After years of relative quiet, terror is on the rise again. There was the Benghazi attack last September, the Boston bombing last month, and a machete attack in London the very same day as Obama’s speech.
If Obama wants to end the war on terror, he should win it, not just declare it over. More on Obama’s folly here.
FOOTNOTE: I’m not sure the original source of the Obama Photoshop; I got it from here.
After the 9/11 Benghazi attack, President Obama promised justice would be done:
“We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act,” President Barack Obama said. “And make no mistake, justice will be done.”
But that was just an election-year promise. As is the case every single time one of our diplomatic missions is attacked, they were strong words for public consumption, intended to be forgotten when public attention moved on.
Now the attackers have been identified, but the administration is taking no action:
The U.S. has identified five men who might be responsible for the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year, and has enough evidence to justify seizing them by military force as suspected terrorists, officials say. But there isn’t enough proof to try them in a U.S. civilian court as the Obama administration prefers. The men remain at large while the FBI gathers evidence.
Obama’s faces a dilemma of his own making. His official position is that terrorism is a law enforcement matter, so if he captures these guys, he has to try them in civilian court, where he won’t have enough legally admissible evidence to convict. The way he really prosecutes the war is with drones; they allow him quietly to attack the enemy while keeping his hypocrisy off the front page. But in this case apparently they don’t want to use a drone strike either. Thus:
U.S. officials say the FBI has proof that the five men were either at the scene of the first attack or somehow involved because of intercepts of at least one of them bragging about taking part. Some of the men have also been in contact with a network of well-known regional Jihadists, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
The U.S. has decided that the evidence it has now would be enough for a military operation to seize the men for questioning, but not enough for a civilian arrest or a drone strike against them, the officials said.
Grabbing them up for interrogation would expose Obama’s hypocrisy, and we can’t do anything else, so the men remain at large. So much for the pledge that justice will be done.
The Obama administration wants to give technical information on our missile defense to the Russians?!
This isn’t stupid. Stupid doesn’t begin to cover it. Treason is more apt.
The left has always opposed missile defense. Why, I’m not quite sure. They like to say it’s because missile defense can’t work, which they might actually believe but isn’t true. But here you have something quite different. Here you have Obama taking steps to make sure it doesn’t work.
He doesn’t want us to have a missile defense! For heaven’s sake, why?
The Obama administration’s little-recognized war on religion is continuing, and once again the battlefield is the area in which the president has the greatest influence: the military.
During the last year-and-a-half, his administration has banned Bibles at Walter Reed hospital (a policy later rescinded), issued orders to Army chaplains limiting what they could preach from the pulpit, and tried unsuccessfully to strip a freedom-of-conscience clause for chaplains from the law.
Now the administration is pushing new rules to discourage evangelism among the military:
A Pentagon ban on proselytizing has left some conservative activists fearful that Christian soldiers — and even military chaplains — could face court martial for sharing their faith.
The Defense Department said this week that proselytizing — trying to get someone to change faiths — is banned. Its statement does not define proselytizing or address the role of military chaplains. It also does not rule out court martial for those whose share their faith too aggressively.
Supposedly the administration’s concern is superiors who pressure their subordinates to convert. But that is not reassuring, for at least three reasons:
First, there is no evidence that anything like that is going on. Certainly it is not going on in the great numbers that would require a national policy.
Second, the rules as written do not limit themselves to pressure situations, but to any instance in which someone might be “induced” to convert to one’s faith.
Third, the rules were prompted by a meeting between the Pentagon and leaders of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an Orwellianly named group opposed to religion in the military. Given the rules’ origin, it’s impossible to allow them the benefit of the doubt.
(Via Hot Air.)
Another key revelation from the Benghazi hearings:
The deputy of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens has told congressional investigators that a team of Special Forces prepared to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi during the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks was forbidden from doing so by U.S. Special Operations Command Africa.
The account from Gregory Hicks is in stark contrast to assertions from the Obama administration, which insisted that nobody was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized. . .
Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound “when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight … They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”
In short: The military wanted to help but was forbidden to do so, and the Obama administration lied about it after the fact.
Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KT) staged a 13-hour filibuster to try to extract from the Obama administration an answer to a very simple question: Under what circumstances does the president have the power to kill Americans on US soil without any judicial process?
The answer to this question is not obvious. Even in a purely law-enforcement context, sometimes an active criminal needs to be shot on sight. But, at the other extreme, no one would suggest that the president may assassinate Americans for political differences. Clearly the power should exist but is severely limited.
But what exactly are those limitations? The problem is that the administration won’t say. Paul succeeded in getting the administration to admit that its power to kill Americans is not unlimited:
Dear Senator Paul:
It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill Americans not engaged in combat on U.S. soil?” The answer to that question is no.
Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Yes, that’s the entire letter. (ASIDE: Either due to a strange oversight or a fit of pique, the White House released the letter to the media but never actually sent it to Paul.) It’s good that the administration admits to some limits, but this tells us virtually nothing about where they see those limits.
On September 11, 2001, while the Pentagon was still burning, the Justice Department was already at work drafting legal rules that would govern the War on Terror. Some of those rules came under fire, of course, but the Bush administration put them out forthrightly and abided by them. That’s called respect for the rule of law.
Later, when the Bush administration’s critics (most of them hypocritically, but some in good faith) attacked those rules, they had specific legal opinions to dispute.
In contrast, the Obama administration never began working seriously on drafting rules for drone warfare until they began to fear they might lose the 2012 election. Once they won the election, the effort apparently evaporated.
Barack Obama’s attitude toward all this is clarified by a revealing exchange with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV):
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) confronted the president over the administration’s refusal for two years to show congressional intelligence committees Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the use of lethal force against American terror suspects abroad. . .
In response to Rockefeller’s critique, Obama said he’s not involved in drafting such memos, the senators told POLITICO. He also tried to assure his former colleagues that his administration is more open to oversight than that of President George W. Bush, whom many Democratic senators attacked for secrecy and for expanding executive power in the national security realm.
“This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here,” he said.
(Via the Corner.)
Instead of offering a legal justification (which the administration refuses to give), Obama explains that he (unlike Dick Cheney) is a good guy. To paraphrase: We don’t need legal strictures when the right person is making the decisions. More tersely: I don’t need legal justification; I’m Obama.
That’s called disrespect for the rule of law.
This matter is too important to allow the Obama administration to make it up as they go along. If the administration will write and publicize rules governing domestic drone strikes, we can debate those rules. But if they refuse to do so, Congress needs to do it.
I have no problem with killing foreign terrorists using drones, but I’m profoundly uncomfortable with the idea of Homeland Security building a fleet of drones for domestic surveillance.
Remember when the Democrats were strongly against so-called domestic surveillance? Back then, we were talking about Americans who take phone calls from foreigners under surveillance. Now we’re talking about Americans just going about their business, and Democrats think it’s hunky-dory.
I think there ought to be a simple bright-line rule: DOD can have drones (but posse comitatus applies), DOJ and DHS cannot.
What do you do with Egypt, a former ally that is rapidly turning into an Islamist hell-hole and is talking seriously of repudiating its peace treaty with Israel? Send them state of the art fighter jets, of course.
I guess they call that “smart diplomacy”.
In the West, including Israel, we long believed that there could be peace between Israel and the Arabs on a land-for-peace formula. We believed so because it seemed so reasonable. But the enemy is not reasonable. They want the Jews dead and will never make peace. They have said so, explicitly (even the so-called moderates).
The upcoming Israeli election will confirm that land-for-peace is dead. Even the Israeli left has figured it out, because:
The “dramatic imminent shift” is not a shift, but a realization; not imminent, but rather what happened over many years; and not dramatic, but rather the slow accumulation of many events: (1) the barbaric terror war against Israeli civilians, commenced after the first Israeli offer of a state; (2) the Palestinian rejection of the Clinton Parameters, after Israel formally accepted them; (3) the Palestinian failure to carry out even Phase I of the three-phase Roadmap; (4) the transformation of Gaza into Hamastan after Israel withdrew every settler and soldier; (5) the election of Hamas in 2006 and the Hamas coup in 2007; (6) two rocket wars from Judenrein Gaza, and the continuing prospect of more; (7) the year-long negotiation in the Annapolis Process that produced still another offer of a state, from which Abbas walked away; (8) Abbas’s announcement in 2009 that he would do nothing without a construction freeze, followed by his doing nothing after he got one; (9) the continual “reconciliation” attempts by Abbas with the terrorist group he promised to dismantle; (10) his failure to give a Bir Zeit speech to match Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan one; (11) the inability of the Palestinians to hold an election, much less build the institutions of a peaceful democratic state; (12) the violation of their express Oslo commitments with repeated end-runs at the UN; (13) a Palestinian society, media and educational system steeped in anti-Semitism; (14) et cetera.
The Palestinians could have had an independent state at peace with Israel, but they’ve made clear they don’t want it. This underscores the foresight of the Arabs who deliberately created the Palestinian refugee problem after Israel’s war of independence by refusing to resettle the refugees, for the explicit purpose of preventing future generations from making peace with Israel.
POSTSCRIPT: Unfortunately, the American and European left has not figured it out yet, either because they are too far from the carnage, or (especially in the European case) because they are simply anti-Semitic.
(Via Power Line.)
The untold story of the Obama administration is his fight against the free exercise of religion. It’s not just the contraception/abortifacients mandate. His administration has also argued that the government can dictate to churches who their ministers must be (they lost that case), and we’re starting to see a pattern of attacks on military chaplains.
Last year the Obama administration issued orders to Army chaplains forbidding them from reading a pastoral letter from the Catholic church to their congregations, and his latest attack goes directly at the chaplains themselves:
Religious liberty advocates are concerned after President Obama said a conscience clause that would allow military chaplains to opt-out of performing gay marriages is “unnecessary and ill-advised.”
The section reads, “No member of the Armed Forces may — require a chaplain to perform any rite, ritual, or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain; or discriminate or take any adverse personnel action against a chaplain.
Let’s be clear what is at stake here. Obama wants to be able to force chaplains to perform rituals that are against their religions. Thus, any chaplain must either violate the precepts of his faith or leave the service. Either way, the men and women of the armed forces will be denied principled chaplains.
Obama lost this fight — as he’s lost most of them — but I wouldn’t assume this issue is over. The more radical the agenda, the more tenacious the man is in pursuing it. This issue will probably come up again with next year’s military budget.
The US Army is clearly being run by idiots now:
A proposed new handbook for Americans serving in Afghanistan warns them not to speak ill about the Taliban, advocate women’s rights or criticize pedophilia, and the general in charge is not happy with it.
The draft of the newest Army handbook seems to suggest that ignorance of Afghan culture is to blame for deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against the coalition forces, according to The Wall Street Journal, which got a peek at the 75-page document. But its message of walking on eggshells around the locals is not going over well with U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the top military commander in Afghanistan.
“Gen. Allen did not author, nor does he intend to provide, a foreword,” said Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. “He does not approve of its contents.” . . .
The draft handbook includes a summary stating that some U.S. soldiers consider Afghan forces to be “basically stupid” thieves, “gutless in combat,” “profoundly dishonest” and engaged in “treasonous collusion and alliances with enemy forces.”
The draft handbook offers a list of “taboo conversation topics” that soldiers should avoid, including “making derogatory comments about the Taliban,” “advocating women’s rights,” “any criticism of pedophilia,” “directing any criticism toward Afghans,” “mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct” or “anything related to Islam,” according to the Journal.
If this is the mentality of the people running the Army, it’s no wonder we’re having trouble.
Hillary Clinton is refusing to testify on the Benghazi debacle, for the second time. The first time she had to be out of the country on the proposed date. This time, she bumped her head and can’t possibly testify. No word on rescheduling.
But we do have additional information on where the administration’s cock and bull story about the attack being a spontaneous demonstration about a video came from. (This is old news, but it came out during my post-election vacation so I haven’t yet noted it here.)
President Obama himself was notified of the nature of the attack within 72 hours, long before Susan Rice’s infamous Sunday misinformation appearances. (Via Jennifer Rubin.) The CIA’s original talking points said Al Qaeda was responsible for the attack, but that fact was removed by the White House. Specifically, the office of the Director of National Intelligence was responsible for the change. Also, Susan Rice would have been privy to the original, accurate information (although it’s impossible to know if she was paying attention).
Intelligence sources say that the links to Al Qaeda were deemed too tenuous to be made public (although Petraeus disagreed). Regardless of whether that decision was necessary or wise, it does not explain how the administration (and especially Susan Rice) decided to adopt the exact opposite as the official story.
When an ineffective parent responds to defiance only by threats of punishment for further defiance, kids figure out pretty quickly they can do anything. And I doubt Syria’s Bashar Assad is any less savvy:
When President Obama first warned Syria’s leader, President Bashar al-Assad, that even making moves toward using chemical weapons would cross a “red line” that might force the United States to drop its reluctance to intervene in the country’s civil war, Mr. Obama took an expansive view of where he drew that boundary. . .
But in the past week, amid intelligence reports that some precursor chemicals have been mixed for possible use as weapons, Mr. Obama’s “red line” appears to have shifted. His warning against “moving” weapons has disappeared from his public pronouncements, as well as those of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The new warning is that if Mr. Assad makes use of those weapons, presumably against his own people or his neighbors, he will face unspecified consequences.
(Via the Corner.)
It’s interesting to see the New York Times shamelessly admit to the Obama administration’s hypocrisy:
Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.
The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6.
President Obama is fine with unfettered power to execute terrorists by drone, for himself. But the prospect of bequeathing that power to a Republican president is another matter entirely.
Contrast this with the Bush administration’s approach. President Bush’s Office of Legal Counsel developed rules governing the war on terror at the war’s outset, not three years later when he was facing possible defeat.
The big liberal argument against missile defense has always been that missile defense doesn’t work. Even with all the successful tests of our missile defense system, the critics have always said that the tests were not realistic. That was an easy argument to make; you can never have a fully realistic test unless someone is launching hostile missiles at you.
And that’s exactly what happened in Israel last month. Hamas launched countless missiles against Israel, and Israel’s new Iron Dome system shot nearly all of them down.
The Obama administration’s story that the Benghazi consulate attack was a the result of an anti-Mohammed video has collapsed in ignominy. But what about the other 9/11/2012 attack, the mob assault on the Cairo embassy? That one really was a response to the video, right?
Wrong. The evidence shows that the Cairo attack too was instigated by Al Qaeda.
A major new revelation in the 9/11/2012 Benghazi debacle: There were intelligence reports that a Libyan militia was gathering weapons and preparing for action three hours before the consulate attack began.
So we didn’t have seven hours to respond before the fight ended, we had ten hours. In fact, with Italy just two hours away, the military could have responded before the fight even began!
Why didn’t the administration respond? Certainly they had good reason for concern. Earlier that day, consulate personnel reported with concern that they had observed their own Libyan security photographing the consulate’s security, and the administration was fully aware that the consulate was vulnerable:
The U.S. Mission in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” less than a month before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, because Al Qaeda had training camps in Benghazi and the consulate could not defend against a “coordinated attack,” according to a classified cable reviewed by Fox News.
Summarizing an Aug. 15 emergency meeting convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Aug. 16 cable marked “SECRET” said that the State Department’s senior security officer, also known as the RSO, did not believe the consulate could be protected.
We’ve learned a lot about the 9/11/2012 attack during the last week. When the attack began, CIA operators stationed in Benghazi wanted to go to the consulate’s aid. They were ordered, twice, to “stand down”, and leave the consulate’s personnel to face their attackers alone. They disobeyed, went to the consulate and rescued the surviving personnel that they could find. (Tragically, they were not able to located ambassador Chris Stevens.)
Then they fell back to the CIA annex, which thereafter fell under attack. During the firefight that ensued, they requested military support, but that was denied. The firefight did not end until seven hours after the consulate attack began, which means that there was more than enough time to send air support from Italy, just two hours away.
Indeed, one CIA operator was painting targets with a laser designator, suggesting that there were air assets present that were not given permission to fire, but this has not been confirmed. It’s also been suggested that they might have designated targets as a bluff, to buy time by inducing the attackers to move. If so, it might have worked, except that the military did nothing with the time the ruse bought.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, asked why the military sent no assistance, gave this astonishing answer:
[The] basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on; without having some real-time information about what’s taking place. And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.
This is utter bullshit. We deploy military force without real-time intelligence all the time. It’s not called the fog of war for nothing! It’s preferable to have real-time intelligence, to be sure, but that’s a luxury one rarely has. We cannot shackle our military that way, and we never do — at least, we never used to.
If we take this idiotic policy seriously — and I truly hope that Panetta is simply lying — it says that we will never reinforce a position that comes under surprise attack. As long as the enemy can finish its attack before we can obtain real-time intelligence, they have nothing to fear from the US military!
Moreover, even if we really had such a stupid policy, Panetta’s defense still isn’t true. Military sources have reported that our drones over Benghazi were unarmed (uh, why?), but that confirms that there were drones overhead, so we did have some real-time intelligence.
Panetta’s effort at a post hoc justification aside, inside reports show an administration deeply ambivalent about responding to the attack:
CBS News has learned that during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Obama Administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group, (CSG).
“The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies,” a high-ranking government official told CBS News. “They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.” . . .
Another senior counter terrorism official says a hostage rescue team was alternately asked to get ready and then stand down throughout the night, as officials seemed unable to make up their minds.
A third potential responder from a counter-terror force stationed in Europe says components of AFICOM — the military’s Africa Command based in Stuttgart, Germany — were working on course of action during the assault. But no plan was put to use.
President Obama, who has frequently boasted about how he, himself, all alone, without anyone else, individually took the brave, lonely responsibility of ordering the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. But now he curiously absents himself from the chain of command, saying “If we find out that there was a big breakdown and somebody didn’t do their job, then they’ll be held responsible.” He has ordered an investigation. If it reveals who is in charge of our military, I suppose that will be useful.
Someone left our people in Benghazi to die, but whoever that person was, the blame belongs to the man at the top.
The Telegraph reports new details on the ineffective security at the Benghazi consulate:
A small British firm based in south Wales had secured a contract to provide security for American diplomatic facilities in Benghazi despite having only a few months experience in the country.
Sources have told the Daily Telegraph that just five unarmed locally hired Libyans were placed on duty at the compound on eight-hour shifts under a deal that fell outside the State Department’s global security contracting system.
Blue Mountain, the [British] firm that won a $387,000 (£241,000) one year contract from the US State Department to protect the compound in May, sent just one British employee, recruited from the celebrity bodyguard circuit, to oversee the work. . .
Other firms in the security industry expressed surprise that Blue Mountain had won a large, high profile contract from the US government. One industry executive said the level of service Blue Mountain provided did not appear adequate to the risks presented by a lawless city. . .
The New York Times last week reported that major security firms with a track record of guarding US premises elsewhere had made approaches to undertake work in Libya but were rebuffed.
The story goes on to say that in addition to having little experience, Blue Mountain was on bad terms with the local authorities. On the eve of the attack, relations between Blue Mountain and its local partners had broken down.
No wonder the State Department originally denied hiring Blue Mountain.
Power Line has a detailed account of how the 9/11/2012 attack on the Benghazi consulate went down, excerpted from a State Department briefing for reporters.
The briefers also took questions and admitted that they had no idea why the administration had put out such bad information for so long.
The Obama administration was warned of the dangers in Libya:
Less than two months before the fatal attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, the State Department concluded that the risk of violence to diplomats and other Americans in Libya was high and that the weak U.S.-backed government in Tripoli could do little about it.
“The risk of U.S. Mission personnel, private U.S. citizens and businesspersons encountering an isolating event as a result of militia or political violence is HIGH,” a State Department security assessment from July 22 concludes.
But, according to security officer Eric Nordstrom, the administration was determined to give the impression that Libya was safe.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was even scarier than we previously thought. It turns out that in November 1962, a month after America thought the crisis had ended, the Soviet Union still had tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba. The United States had never known they were present, and so never demanded their removal.
The Soviets took them back when they became alarmed at Castro’s erratic behavior. He considered the weapons his, and was on the verge of announcing to the world that Cuba was a nuclear power.
By the way, the world keeps turning while our election season plods on:
Turkey’s confrontation with Syria spread on Thursday to include Russia, Syria’s principal military ally, when Turkey’s prime minister said Russian munitions intended for Syria’s government had been impounded from a Syrian commercial jetliner forced to land in Turkey.
Syria and Russia protested the interception and grounding of the jetliner. Turkish warplanes forced it to land on Wednesday on suspicion of transporting war matériel while en route from Moscow to Damascus with 35 passengers, including a number of Russians.
(Via Via Media.)
If we are losing in Afghanistan, here’s an indication why:
Soldiers were ordered not to open fire on Taliban fighters planting mines in case they disturb local people, it has been claimed. U.S. military chiefs ordered troops to exercise ‘courageous constraint’ and even warned them they could be charged with murder if they shot any Taliban without permission from above.
The claims were made by a former Royal Marine who spoke out following the inquest into the death of Sergeant Peter Rayner last week. At the hearing in Bradford, his widow Wendy Rayner revealed how her husband was blown up days after senior officers had apparently ‘laughed off’ his complaints that insurgents were being allowed to plant explosive devices unchallenged.
Turkey’s parliament has authorized the Prime Minister to invade Syria.
This is troubling:
Hackers linked to China’s government broke into one of the U.S. government’s most sensitive computer networks, breaching a system used by the White House Military Office for nuclear commands, according to defense and intelligence officials familiar with the incident.
We need to take this sort of thing seriously. We aren’t.
This strikes me as a very bad idea:
Amid a series of controversial U.S. air strikes against high-level Al-Qaeda officials in the Arabian Peninsula, and renewed military cooperation with Yemen, officials in Sanaa are now expecting to get a supply of weaponry from the Pentagon, including four of their own UAVs.
An anonymous Yemeni defense official, who was not authorized to speak with the press, tells Aviation Week that Yemen is receiving four AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven UAVs. The 1.9-kg Raven is equipped with sensors for target acquisition, and infrared cameras capable of displaying persons carrying weapons.
The Yemeni government is riddled with Jihadists, and we’re sending them drones?
The reign of Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean may be at an end. All it took was for the civilized world to start fighting back:
The empty whiskey bottles and overturned, sand-filled skiffs littering this once-bustling shoreline are signs the heyday of Somali piracy may be over. Most of the prostitutes are gone and the luxury cars repossessed. Pirates while away their hours playing cards or catching lobsters. . .
Armed guards aboard cargo ships and an international naval armada that carries out onshore raids have put a huge dent in piracy and might even be ending the scourge.
While experts say it’s too early to declare victory, the numbers are startling: In 2010, pirates seized 47 vessels. This year they’ve taken five. . .
“We have witnessed a significant drop in attacks in recent months. The stats speak for themselves,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jacqueline Sherriff, a spokeswoman for the European Union Naval Force.
Sherriff attributes the plunge in hijackings mostly to international military efforts — European, American, Chinese, Indian, Russian — that have improved over time. In May, after receiving an expanded mandate, the EU Naval Force destroyed pirate weapons, equipment and fuel on land. Japanese aircraft fly over the shoreline to relay pirate activity to nearby warships.
I found it quite astonishing that people thought the best way to deal with piracy was to keep paying them off. (“Fighting pirates is dangerous!” Not fighting them is more dangerous.) A lot of people are just stupid I guess.
Sudan won’t allow us to reinforce our Khartoum embassy with marines:
Sudan has rejected an offer by the United States to send Marines to increase security at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, amid protesters and police clashing.
The announcement Saturday follows the United States saying it was sending Marines to Sudan to bolster security at the embassy, where Sudanese police reportedly fired on protestors trying to scale the compound walls.
“Sudan is able to protect the diplomatic missions in Khartoum and the state is committed to protecting its guests in the diplomatic corps,” Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti told the state news agency SUNA, which Reuters reported Saturday.
As a result, the deployment has been delayed and possibly curtailed, said a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to disclose details on the troop movement.
Even more troublingly, there is no indication to suggest that we’re not taking this lying down. If they won’t let us defend it, we ought to close the embassy.
President Barack Obama is about to release or transfer 55 Gitmo prisoners, despite reports that the Libyan believed to be behind the killing of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens was a former Guantanamo inmate transferred to Libyan custody.
The large percentage of those scheduled to be released are Yemeni, according to a list made public by the Obama administration.
The administration will argue (with the blessing of the “fact checkers”) that these guys aren’t being released, they’re just being transferred to a Yemeni prison. However, Yemen is curiously unable to keep Islamic militants in prison. (Note that those are three separate links, to three distinct jailbreaks.)
But at least released Guantanamo prisoners never do much. Oh.
Fox News reports:
The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last week appeared to be a joint operation orchestrated by an Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa and the Islamist militia Ansar Al-Sharia, an intelligence source told Fox News, citing evidence collected so far in the investigation.
About 100 attackers carried out the “coordinated assault,” intelligence sources said, further discrediting earlier Obama administration claims that the deadly attack was a “spontaneous” outburst in response to an anti-Islam film.
Fox News’ sources say the attack came in two waves and involved rocket-propelled grenades, as well as mortar fire, and both the consulate and safe house were attacked seemingly with inside knowledge.
One aspect about the 9/11/2012 attacks that has been neglected (probably because of the administration’s absurd effort to deny that they were planned terrorist attacks) is the fact that the Benghazi consulate was left largely defenseless by State Department policy:
According to a source close to Breitbart News and high up in the intelligence community, the Obama administration’s policy following Muammar Gaddafi’s death has been to keep a “low profile” during a chaotic time.
For this reason, according to the source, American Marines were not stationed at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli or the American mission in Benghazi, as would typically have been the case. In the spirit of a “low profile,” the administration didn’t even want an American company in charge of private security.
The story also refers to a “no bullets” rule imposed on the security contractor. It’s not clear who the rule applied to. The Wall Street Journal’s account makes it clear that some of the security were armed, and others were not. The State Department’s refusal to answer any questions will make it difficult to find out.
Nevertheless, the Pentagon confirms that no Marines were stationed at the consulate:
-Contrary to open source reporting, there are no Marines currently stationed at the Embassy in Tripoli, or the Consulate in Benghazi.
POSTSCRIPT: Reports that the Marines at the Cairo embassy were unarmed appear to be false. (Although it is curious that only the far left Mother Jones seems to have the memo. I can’t find it anywhere else.) But it’s important to remember there were two different outputs; it was Benghazi where the ambassador was murdered. The left would like to use the reporting error regarding Cairo to make the disaster in Benghazi disappear.
Moreover, the Free Beacon’s reporting on the matter seems to have been entirely responsible, despite what its critics would like to suggest. The article clearly attributes the information to “reports” and equivocates appropriately: “If true, the reports indicate . . .” Furthermore, the Free Beacon sought comment from official sources, who refused to answer. The Pentagon’s answer didn’t come out until after the Free Beacon published. It might have come out only because of their reporting. (The memo’s timestamp indicates it was issued 15 minutes later.)
POST-POSTSCRIPT: As noted above, the State Department has announced that it will not be answering any more questions about Benghazi, even to the point of leaving inaccurate reports uncorrected. Their official justification for clamming up is the fact that an investigation is ongoing, which is complete nonsense.
UPDATE: The State Department initially denied this report, before later admitting it was true. (I’m not sure why they violated their announced policy of not correcting misinformation.)
Fox News reports:
Intelligence sources tell Fox News they are convinced the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was directly tied to Al Qaeda — with a former Guantanamo detainee involved.
That revelation comes on the same day a top Obama administration official called last week’s deadly assault a “terrorist attack” — the first time the attack has been described that way by the administration after claims it had been a “spontaneous” act. . .
Sufyan Ben Qumu is thought to have been involved and even may have led the attack, Fox News’ intelligence sources said. Qumu, a Libyan, was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007 and transferred into Libyan custody on the condition he be kept in jail. He was released by the Qaddafi regime as part of its reconciliation effort with Islamists in 2008.
I don’t understand the released-on-condition-he-be-kept-in-jail idea in the first place, but expecting Qaddafi to honor the agreement was truly foolish.
Once the Obama administration gets past its cock-and-bull story about how the attack was spontaneous, the result of a YouTube video, expect them to start playing the Bush-did-it line. They will hope that people forget who it was that wanted to shut Guantanamo down entirely.
President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, U.S. sources familiar with the matter said.
(Via Hot Air.)
Sounds good. Just one problem: Why do I know about this?! Isn’t it supposed to be a “secret” order?
This administration is completely unable to keep a secret when it comes to national security. We know that the leaks are coming from top administration officials, probably from the White House, and the administration’s leak investigation is just theater. The administration no longer even denies that the leaks came from the White House, and just says that the president didn’t authorize them. (You hardly need the president to officially “authorize” leaking to establish a sense at the White House that leaking is tolerated or even encouraged.)
I’m afraid Donald Rumsfeld was right when he said this week that Israel would be unwise to notify the United States about any planned action against Iran’s nuclear program:
“If I were in the Israeli government, I don’t think I would notify the United States government of any intent to do anything about Iran,” Rumsfeld stated. “I think that their [Israel’s] relationship with the United States is such that it conceivably could leak out of the United States government that he called and that he plans to do something on Iran.”
“So my guess is, given the pattern of leaks out of the White House, that any prime minister of Israel would not call the United States and give clear intentions as to what they plan to do.”
This story must be awfully confusing to people who believe that Saddam Hussein had no chemical weapons:
Britain will help the Iraqi government dispose of what’s left of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons, still stored in two bunkers in north of Baghdad, the British embassy in Baghdad announced Monday.
The British Defense Ministry will start training Iraqi technical and medical workers this year, an embassy statement said. The teams will work to safely destroy remnants of munitions and chemical warfare agents left over from Saddam’s regime. He was overthrown in 2003 following an American-led invasion.
Saddam stored the chemical weapons near population centers so that he could access them quickly, despite the danger to his civilian population. . .
The head of the Iraqi National Authority, Mohammed Al Sharaa, said the remnants “represent a great challenge to the Iraqi experts to safely dispose.” He called the agreement with British authorities “a good opportunity for Iraqi experts to benefit from the well-known expertise of U.K. experts.”
I think the drone campaign against Al Qaeda is necessary and effective, and I’m not even particularly squeamish about killing Americans who happen to be present at a legitimate military target. But I’m very uncomfortable about deliberately targeting Americans, particularly children:
He was an American boy, born in America. Though he’d lived in Yemen since he was about seven, he was still an American citizen, which should have made it harder for the United States to kill him.
It should at the very least have made it necessary for the United States to say why it killed him.
Remember the left’s sanctimonious prattle during the Bush administration against its prosecution of the war on terror? Every bit of it was just naked political opportunism. Now that Democrats are in charge, they are doing everything either the same, or with fewer safeguards. For instance:
In a city full of them, Harold Koh is Washington’s biggest hypocrite. As the dean of Yale Law School, Koh was the most prominent critic of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies, deriding them as “executive muscle-flexing.” The former President, Koh said, was the “torturer-in-chief.” In a 2002 interview with The New York Times, he referred to the war on terror as “legally undeclared” and questioned the administration’s right to kill terrorists on the battlefield. “What factual showing will demonstrate that they had warlike intentions against us and who sees that evidence before any action is taken?” he asked.
In 2009, after the election of Barack Obama, Koh was awarded the job of State Department legal adviser. Since that time, he has defended a war waged in Libya without explicit congressional authorization, drone strikes targeting suspected terrorists and the extrajudicial assassination of an American citizen who had become a leading Al Qaeda ideologist.
During the Bush administration, Koh made the preposterous demand of a “factual showing” “before any action is taken.” Now:
As The New York Times described the administration’s rationale for drone strikes, “people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.”
Also, the Obama administration, for political reasons, doesn’t want to send any new detainees to the professional, humanely-run prison at Guantanamo Bay. So instead they’re sending them to a secret prison in Somalia. Hypocrites.
Someday (hopefully soon) Republicans will be running the war or terror again. When that happens, these hypocrites will suddenly find their voice again. Pay no attention to them.
Remember when it was very, very bad to reveal the identity of a covert agent?
Among the bombshells Judicial Watch found in the documents, and there are several, is the fact that Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers disclosed the true identity of SEAL Team 6′s commander to those Hollywood producers.
I’m sure that everyone who was exercised about the disclosure of Valerie Plame’s identity will be equally upset about this. Ha ha! Just kidding.
Okay, seriously, this is why I found it so hard to take the sanctimonious indignation from the left and the legacy press over the Plame-Armitage affair. As we’ve seen so many times, they don’t care one bit about leaking sensitive information, including the identities of covert agents. They just found a weapon — a hugely hypocritical weapon — to wield against the Bush administration.
Anyone who still denies that Iran has a nuclear weapons program program probably won’t be convinced by anything, but the evidence keeps accumulating:
A drawing based on information from inside an Iranian military site shows an explosives containment chamber of the type needed for nuclear arms-related tests that U.N. inspectors suspect Tehran has conducted there. Iran denies such testing and has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of such a chamber.
The computer-generated drawing was provided to The Associated Press by an official of a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program who said it proves the structure exists, despite Tehran’s refusal to acknowledge it.
That official said the image is based on information from a person who had seen the chamber at the Parchin military site, adding that going into detail would endanger the life of that informant. The official comes from an IAEA member country that is severely critical of Iran’s assertions that its nuclear activities are peaceful and asserts they are a springboard for making atomic arms.
A former senior IAEA official said he believes the drawing is accurate. Olli Heinonen, until last year the U.N. nuclear agency’s deputy director general in charge of the Iran file, said it was “very similar” to a photo he recently saw that he believes to be the pressure chamber the IAEA suspects is at Parchin.
The Washington Post reports:
The United States has for several years been secretly releasing high-level detainees from a military prison in Afghanistan as part of negotiations with insurgent groups, a bold effort to quell violence but one that U.S. officials acknowledge poses substantial risks.
As the United States has unsuccessfully pursued a peace deal with the Taliban, the “strategic release” program has quietly served as a live diplomatic channel, allowing American officials to use prisoners as bargaining chips in restive provinces where military power has reached its limits.
But the releases are an inherent gamble: The freed detainees are often notorious fighters who would not be released under the traditional legal system for military prisoners in Afghanistan. They must promise to give up violence — and U.S. officials warn them that if they are caught attacking American troops, they will be detained once again.
So this is the plan: (1) We release dangerous Taliban fighters. (2) ??? (3) The Taliban abandons its quest to enslave Afghanistan to their brand of Islamism. Sounds brilliant, but could we get a little more detail on step 2?
But have no fear. If they attack us again, and are captured again, then they’ll be detained again. That’ll show them.
This is alarming:
Russia’s top military officer warned Thursday that Moscow would strike NATO missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe before they are ready for action, if the U.S. pushes ahead with deployment.
“A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens,” Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov said at an international missile-defense conference in Moscow attended by senior U.S. and NATO officials.
Gen. Makarov made the threat amid an apparent stalemate in talks between U.S. and Russian negotiators over the missile-defense system, part of President Obama’s policy to “reset” relations with Moscow. The threat also elicited shock and derision from Western missile-defense analysts.
When George W Bush launched his re-election campaign, his first commercial naturally highlighted his leadership in the aftermath of 9/11. The Democrats immediately attacked the commercial for supposedly politicizing 9/11, using an astroturf group of 9/11 victim’s families they had waiting for just that purpose. It was absurd. The response to 9/11 was President Bush’s finest hour and of course he was going to highlight it.
The operation that killed Bin Laden was President Obama’s finest hour (in the sense of being his only good hour). He too is entitled to highlight it in his re-election effort. And if his lack of accomplishment in any other area leads him to over-emphasize it, that’s fine too.
But no, Barack Obama can’t merely trumpet his achievement. No, this guy has to turn it into an attack ad against Mitt Romney.
Would George W Bush have run an attack ad against John Kerry, alleging that he wouldn’t have been a strong leader following 9/11? We needn’t speculate — history shows he didn’t, despite the likelihood that such an ad would have struck home. In fact, Bush didn’t even exploit Bin Laden’s endorsement of John Kerry.
The first thing that’s hard to take about the Bin Laden attack ad (here, if you want to see it) is the premise that it was even a hard decision. Of course you would go and get the guy. The striking thing is how this administration made an easy decision hard. (The hardest in “500 years”!)
The second thing that’s hard to take is Obama’s choice of messenger. In the entire world there is one man who really did fail to give the order to take out Bin Laden when he had the chance. That one guy, Bill Clinton, is the guy Obama selected to preach about decisive leadership in dealing with Bin Laden. Bizarre.
The third thing that’s hard to take about this is the fact that raid that took out Bin Laden exploited intelligence from terrorist detainees, the exact sort of intelligence that Obama has ensured we will not be able to gather any more. The next president (or — god forbid — Obama in a second term) is less likely to have such an opportunity, as a result of Obama’s policies.
Finally there’s the actual substance of the attack, and this I want to take a look at. The attack quoted two statements by Romney. The first was taken completely out of context:
Mitt Romney criticized Barack Obama for vowing to strike al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan if necessary.
This statement was made in 2007 when presidential candidate Barack Obama was lurching around making jaw-droppingly bizarre foreign policy pronouncements. Obama was talking about launching a war against al Qaeda in Pakistan, not about a raid about Osama Bin Laden. This was at a time when the Pakistani regime was friendly but fragile, and there was concern that the regime could destabilize and leave us with something much worse. Obama was trying to look tough, but actually came off as simply unstable. All the other presidential candidates attacked him, not just Romney. For example, Hillary Clinton said:
[It was] a very big mistake to telegraph that and to destabilize the Musharraf regime, which is fighting for its life against the Islamist extremists who are in bed with al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The second quoted statement highlights an important policy difference between the Democrats and Republicans:
It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.
This is exactly right. The war on terror is not about vengeance (although Democrats have often been confused on this point). It’s not even about dealing with al Qaeda, per se. It’s about making America safe. Al Qaeda is one of many threats, and the Obama administration is making a dangerous mistake by limiting its efforts to Al Qaeda alone.
Our efforts need to be allocated rationally, according to the seriousness of the threat. I believe that’s what Romney was saying. Billions spent on one man would be billions not spent on more serious threats.
The raid against Bin Laden was worthwhile because it didn’t involve moving heaven and earth. We had the intelligence (no thanks to Obama) so we sent in the SEALs. That’s an entirely different proposition.
Nothing that Romney has said suggests that he would have any difficulty in making the easy decision to take out Bin Laden. On the contrary, the very remarks that the ad quotes make it clear that Romney has a much better grasp of what should and should not be done than Obama.
UPDATE: I missed this bit:
Suppose [the SEALs] had been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him.
A contest run by the British National Army Museum has named George Washington as the most formidable foe faced by Great Britain since the 17th century.
I find this a little surprising. Washington scored some brilliant victories, but he also made some big mistakes, particularly on Long Island. I would have picked Napoleon, who came in third.
Joe Biden says that President Obama’s decision to take out Osama Bin Laden was the most audacious military operation in 500 years:
You can go back 500 years. You cannot find a more audacious plan. Never knowing for certain. We never had more than a 48 percent probability that he was there.
A detachment of ten US Marines setting out to defeat the city of Derne, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, Hitler invading France through the impassible Ardennes Forest, the British retaking the Falkland Islands, America bringing down the Taliban with just special forces and air power — all that is nothing compared to Obama sending Seal Team Six to take down a house, says Joe Biden.
But the sad thing about this isn’t the hyperbole, but the Democratic posturing that the operation was audacious at all. Does anyone think that President Bush would have hesitated for a moment? He would have authorized the mission in a heartbeat. So would have Al Gore (“The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.”).
Obama made the right decision, and gets the credit for it. But making it out as though this easy decision were hard (much less the hardest decision since around the Battle of Ravenna) shows him not as audacious, but the opposite.
Mohammed Merah, the terrorist who murdered seven people at a Jewish center in Toulouse, France, was captured in Afghanistan in 2010. Unfortunately, we weren’t sending anyone to Guantanamo any more, so instead we handed him over to France, who promptly released him:
Merah was grabbed by Afghan security forces in Kandahar and turned over to the US Army. The United States “put him on the first plane to France,’’ Molins said.
Pentagon spokesman Lt Col. Todd Breasseale said: “The Kandahari police picked him up a matter of years ago. They detained him. The mechanics by which he was returned to France, we are continuing to investigate.”
Someone, though, was smart enough to report the 23-year-old Algerian-born French citizen to the Department of Homeland Security, which added his name to the “no fly’’ list.
Upon his return to France, he was interviewed by intelligence officials, who released him.
Setting terrorists free rather than detaining them has real-world consequences. Imagine that.
In 2004, Barack Obama supported an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Israel and Hamas are at war yet again. The IDF took out a gang of Palestinian terrorists planning a Mumbai-style attack against Israel, and the Palestinians retaliated with a new rocket barrage against Israeli cities.
The good news, however, is the Iron Dome anti-rocket system is now fully operational, and took out 25 of 27 rockets.
The New York Post reports:
The US offered to give Israel advanced weaponry — including bunker-busting bombs and refueling planes — in exchange for Israel’s agreement not to attack Iranian nuclear sites, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported Thursday. President Obama reportedly made the offer during Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week.
Under the proposed deal, Israel would not attack Iran until 2013, after US elections in November this year.
Interesting that Obama feels that an Israeli attack would hurt him at the polls. He must feel that his response would not be well received by the American public, which tells you something about what his response would be.
From Israel’s perspective, the deal could be worth it. All that equipment would make at attack against Iran more effective, provided 2013 isn’t too late. By they need to be sure to get the deal in writing.
Walter Russell Mead worries that Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists.
For those with an on-line subscription, the Economist has a great article about the XM25, the Army’s new grenade launcher that combines direct fire’s speed and precision with indirect fire’s ability to kill behind cover. Other countries are trying to build similar weapons, but ours is the only one that works.
We shouldn’t be negotiating with the Taliban at all. They aren’t going to turn into something we can live with, and it sends a very bad message. But if we are going to negotiate with the Taliban, we ought to be doing it from a position of strength. We are the United States of America and they are a bunch of guerrillas hiding in caves.
Unfortunately, the Taliban has figured out that if they play hard to get, we will plead with them to negotiate. Even to the point of releasing high-level Taliban from Guantanamo:
The US has agreed in principle to release high-ranking Taliban officials from Guantánamo Bay in return for the Afghan insurgents’ agreement to open a political office for peace negotiations in Qatar, the Guardian has learned.
What kind of message does it send when we will release the Taliban’s leaders just for opening an office in Qatar? And what will those terrorists do once they’ve been released?
Why is the Defense Department outsourcing the next-generation Light Air Support program to a Brazilian company with close ties to Iran?
Someone needs to glue this man’s mouth shut:
The White House on Monday defended Vice President Joe Biden for saying that the Taliban isn’t an enemy of the United States despite the years spent fighting the militant Islamic group that gave a home to Al Qaeda and its leader Usama bin Laden while he plotted the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Jay Carney’s attempted defense doesn’t even make sense:
“It’s only regrettable when taken out of context,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said of the vice president’s remarks in an interview published Monday.
“It is a simple fact that we went into Afghanistan because of the attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. We are there now to ultimately defeat Al Qaeda, to stabilize Afghanistan and stabilize it in part so that Al Qaeda or other terrorists who have as their aim attacks on the United States cannot establish a foothold again in that country,” Carney continued.
This is nonsense. After 9/11, the Taliban was given a choice: side with us or Al Qaeda. They chose Al Qaeda. They are the enemy.
What’s worse, the world is looking for signs as to whether we will stay the course in Afghanistan. This sort of talk doesn’t help; in fact it costs lives. That’s the “context” that matters.
Michael Ledeen takes a look at the clandestine campaign that someone is waging against Iran. Godspeed.
After 9/11, terrorists all over the world were rebranding themselves as branches of Al Qaeda. Now they’re rebranding themselves as independents.
We are winning.
It’s an article of faith among the left — promoted during John Kerry’s failed presidential campaign — that General Eric Shinseki, formerly Army Chief of Staff and now VA Secretary, was fired for testifying to Congress that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to stabilize Iraq. If only President Bush had listened to General Shinseki, they cluck, Iraq might never have become such a mess.
Of course, the story is false. General Shinseki retired when his term as Chief of Staff ended on schedule. Also, Shinseki was wrong; the Surge stabilized Iraq with 160 thousand troops, far less than any reasonable interpretation of “several hundred thousand.” Nevertheless, Shinseki had a point. . .
President Obama has now done, again, what President Bush was accused of but never did: fire a general for criticizing US strategy. That makes three: David McKiernan (who was fired after making larger troop requests than Obama was prepared to grant, but perhaps not because of it), Stanley McChrystal (who was fired for criticizing the administration in Rolling Stone, and also for giving a bleak assessment of the war effort to NATO), and now Peter Fuller, for his well-deserved criticism of Hamid Karzai’s government.
Remember when “listen to the generals” was briefly the rallying cry of the left? That was just for generals saying things the left wants to hear.
With the war in Iraq over and all US troops due to leave the country soon, it’s worth reminding ourselves (again) of the cost. Nine years in Iraq have cost less than President Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan.
Here’s a good indication that NATO has lost its way. After a NATO airstrike hit Moammar Qaddafi’s convoy, allowing anti-Qaddafi forces to bring him to his long-awaited end, NATO disavowed any intention to do so:
“At the time of the strike, NATO did not know that Qaddafi was in the convoy,” the statement said. “NATO’s intervention was conducted solely to reduce the threat towards the civilian population, as required to do under our UN mandate. As a matter of policy, NATO does not target individuals.”
The stupidity of this astounds me. The leader of the enemy forces is a legitimate military target, and killing him in all likelihood ends the war. But NATO would rather continue to see people die, combatants and civilians, rather than kill one man whose name they happen to know?
We are at war with Iran. It’s time we noticed:
A key player in the Iran-backed plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. was a senior military commander linked to the slaughter of U.S. troops in Iraq, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
Abdul Reza Shahlai is the cousin of accused plotter Mansour Arbabsiar, 56, an Iranian-American currently in custody and charged with a string of offenses including conspiracy to commit murder and an act of international terrorism. . . The 54-year-old is a commander in Iran’s Quds Force, the body believed to have been behind the Saudi ambassador plot and described to the Post by a US official as “Iran’s arm for supporting terrorists and planning attacks.”
In 2007 Shahlai ran a group of elite killers within the Iraqi militia of the cleric Moqtada al Sadr, who dressed as US and Iraqi soldiers and launched an attack on official buildings in Karbala — a raid which left five Americans dead.
The canonical example of chutzpah is no longer a boy who murdered his parents begging for mercy because he is an orphan. The new canonical example of chutzpah is al Qaeda protesting the killing of a US citizen.
On a more serious note, this proves — if we had any doubt — that at least some of the Islamists’ complaints (more likely most of them), which supposedly are the reason they hate us, are not really in earnest.
John Yoo comments on the legal basis for Anwar al-Awlaki’s killing:
Sunday’s report on the Obama administration’s secret legal justification for the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki shows just how dangerously confused they have become about the rules of war. All of this comes, of course, with the caveat that we are only going on secondhand descriptions of the Office of Legal Counsel opinion (and we should at least note, in passing, that this administration’s members attacked the Bush folks for not making similar national-security documents public, and have already refused to make public their legal opinions that laughably found the Libya conflict not to be a “war”).
Let’s give partial credit where it is due. Apparently the Obama administration argues that al-Awlaki was a legitimate target because he is a member of an enemy engaged in hostile conduct against the United States. At least Obama has figured out that the war on terrorism is in fact a war, and that it is not limited just to Afghanistan. We should be thankful that Obama officials have quietly put aside the arguments they made during the Bush years that any terrorist outside the Afghani battlefield was a criminal suspect who deserved his day in federal court. By my lights, I would rather the Obama folks be hypocrites in favor of protecting the national security than principled fools (which they are free to be in the faculty lounges both before and after their time in government).
He goes on to say that the administration’s legal theory is dangerous and incoherent.