Posts tagged with Al Qaeda
Reporters covering the investigation of the major al Qaeda victory at Benghazi should ask themselves: "what would Walter Cronkite do" if he were covering the story.
Let's consider the facts. Most people familiar with the War on Terror knew in September, 2012, that there was a heightened risk of an al Qaeda attack in the U.S. or at American installations outside the U.S. on or about the anniversary of the original 9/11 attack.
The danger was particularly high at American facilities in Libya because of the very unstable situation there and the presence of al Qaeda personnel who were trying to take over the country. Military and CIA personnel in Libya should have been on a high state of alert and prepared to back up personnel at any facility that might be attacked. Their orders should have been to respond immediately to any attack without requesting authorization from Washington. Security should have been particularly tight in Benghazi with the Ambassador in the building.
With modern cell phone technology, personnel should have been calling the State Department as they took cover, grabbed weapons, etc. Both the Secretary of State and President should have been notified immediately. State Department protocol should have required the Secretary, or least the top undersecretary for the region, to monitor the situation using both audio and video from the site, possibly using devices such as smart phones . If a satellite was in position to monitor the situation someone in Washington should have monitored its video. Keep in mind the government has better quality cameras than Google on its satellites.
The Obama administration's initial claim that the facility fell to a rag tag mob of demonstrators implies the facility essentially had no security. Any decent security protocol should have been prepared for the type of attack that Iranian students had used to take over the American embassy in Tehran during the Carter administration. An attack by trained military personnel would have been more easily explained, although security personnel should have been prepared to handle such an attack.
Determining the significance of the successful al Qaeda attack is difficult because of the nature of the War on Terror. Significant battles haven't involved large groups. Although the American casualty toll in the 9/11 attack was high, barely a dozen men conducted the attack. A similar sized American force killed Osama bin Laden. Much of the killing by both sides is done by remote control. Americans use aerial drones. Al Qaeda uses road side bombs.
The attack is at least as significant as the temporary Viet Cong capture of the American embassy in Saigon during the 1968 Tet Offensive. The attack indicates that al Qaeda has successfully broadened the war and is now able to defeat the Americans in Libya and possibly elsewhere. The size of the victory isn't as important as the fact that the attack was an al Qaeda victory. Al Qaeda may not be "winning" the war yet, but as a football sportscaster might say, al Qaeda "has taken the momentum", as demonstrated by the recent successful bombing of the Boston Marathon. Al Qaeda can use its success as a recruitment argument.
The failure of the Americans to come to the rescue during the attack could be interpreted by al Qaeda as proving bin Laden was right when he said the Americans would eventually tire of the fighting.
Walter Cronkite began questioning the American handling of the Vietnam after the attack on the American Embassy in Saigon during the 1968 Tet Offensive. I'm sure he would have asked questions about the War on Terror after the fall of the American consulate in Benghazi, particularly considering the allegations that someone in Washington prevented sending a rescue force. Cronkite knew that Presidents are sometimes mislead by their subordinates and it is the duty of journalists to learn the truth.
Megyn Kelly on Fox made an interesting observation on the first debate. Mitt Romney would watch Barack Obama during the debate while Obama tended to look at Jim Lehrer or the cameras. I had halfway noticed this situation during the debate but didn't really consider the implications until she commented.
I went back and fast forwarded through the debate. Romney would look at Obama for significant periods, but Obama only occasionally glanced at Romney before looking away or looking down.
An obvious explanation for Obama not looking at Romney is that Obama felt intimidated by Romney. The debates cannot resolve differences on issues because the responses are too short. Romney apparently recognizes that the debates allow a candidate to show who has the strongest personality and would be best able to stand up to the leaders of other countries, the leaders of special interest groups and congressional opponents.
Watching one's opponent is important in verbal combat as well as in physical combat. A boxer watches his opponent to look for an opening for a punch or an indication of what type of punch the opponent may throw. A verbal combatant watches body language and facial expression for signs of weakness.
I was a boxing fan when Mohammad Ali was the champ. I still recall him trying to stare down opponents to try to shake their self confidence. Romney at times seemed to be trying to stare down Obama who occasionally glanced at Romney and then quickly looked away.
Romney obviously understands personal conflicts in a political, or business, situation and how to appear to be a tough opponent. Obama does not.
The 1962 Cuban missile crisis occurred because Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev felt American President John F. Kennedy could be intimidated. The recent attack on the American consulate in Libya may have occurred because al Qaeda believes Obama can be intimidated.
Before the debate I was planning to vote for Romney only as a means of getting Obama out of the White House. Now I will vote for Romney the Intimidator to be our leader in foreign affairs.
President Barack Obama suffers from the delusion that there must have been some massive conspiracy to hide Osama bin Laden from the U.S.
President Barack Obama apparently thinks that the fact that he needed an army of attorneys to keep his stupid birth certificate secret means that bin Laden must have had a large group helping him stay hidden. Or, maybe Obama doesn't believe that an Arab could be smart enough to hide from the U.S. without help, even an Arab smart enough to be responsible for the 9/11 attack. .
Obama should know better because the CIA has already said that the most any of the al Qaeda members they captured knew was that there was some mysterious courier who might have direct access to bin Laden. If bin Laden didn't trust members of his own organization with his hiding place, why would he trust Pakistani government agencies which he certainly was aware could have been infiltrated by agents working for the CIA or other intelligence agencies particularly Mossad (Israel) and MI6 (Britain) .
There is a claim that India's RAW and Mossad have combined efforts to infiltrate Pakistan government agencies. Even if a foreign agent didn't learn where he was hiding, someone in the government might have found the $25 million reward too tempting to pass up.
Any ability al Qaeda might have to obtain inside information from Pakistani agencies would not be the same as those agencies helping al Qaeda anymore than an ability to obtain inside information from American agencies would indicate those agencies were helping al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda likely has agents planted in governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as on some NATO bases in Afghanistan, much like the Viet Cong had agents planted in the South Vietnamese government and on American bases during the Vietnam War. If al Queda/Taliban can plant potential suicide bombers on American base they can plant spies. In Vietnam, the Viet Cong often had radios capable of eavesdropping on American radio traffic.
The Wikileaks situation demonstrates that the Obama administration has poor information security. The administration has alleged that an army PFC in Iraq was able to place documents on the web he should not have been able to access. The leaking of the fact that the U.S. was attempting to track bin Laden's cell phone in 2001 came from Americans rather than Pakistanis.
If Pakistani agencies were supposedly helping bin Laden stay hidden what were they doing while the SEALS were at his compound. Military or intelligence officials would have been aware of the possibility of Americans coming in by helicopter.
Why wasn't the compound surrounded by command detonated mines in case that happened? Why wasn't someone in a protected position with a weapon capable of disabling a helicopter? Why, in a military area well inside Pakistan, didn't his "protectors" call for a force to keep the Americans from leaving?
The ease with which the SEALS got in and out indicates that bin Laden had no support from individuals in the Pakistan government. If Pakistan's forces were involved their role was to allow the Americans to leave without interference while pretending to be unaware of what was happening.
Obama cannot understand the obvious fact that the best way to keep something secret is to limit the number of people who know the secret. If you had a $25 million buried treasure that you didn't want someone else to dig up, you wouldn't tell anyone you had any doubts about, particularly strangers in a government agency.
Many fiction writers recognize that keeping locations secret involves limiting who knows the location. On the old "Batman" tv series even Batgirl and the police commissioner didn't know the location of the bat cave. Limiting who knows a secret hideout reduces the chances of someone inadvertently revealing the location or revealing the location under torture. One way to get someone to reveal a hideout is to trick him into going to the hideout while he's being followed.
Bin Laden's choice of a hiding place was brilliant. The last place anyone would expect to find him would be in an area away from his supporters. Living in a mansion sized compound would create the impression that the occupant was wealthy, possibly with a fear of being robbed or kidnapped, or someone involved with drugs or smuggling.
The presence of cannabis plants in the area would be consistent with a drug dealer as the resident of the compound. The media have referred to the plants as marijuana, but they were more likely being grown for production of hashish which has been used in the Middle East for centuries. Marco Polo and others suggested it was used by members of the Medieval Order of Assassins from which al Qaeda is descended.
Osama bin Laden probably wasn't familiar with American masked avengers but his choice of accommodations is similar to Batman and Zorro. When Batman wasn't running around catching criminals he was the liberal wealthy philanthropist Bruce Wayne. When Zorro wasn't riding around carving a "Z" with his sword he was wealthy foppish Don Diego de la Vega.
I grew up watching old Hollywood westerns in which the Indians always stopped fighting if their chief was killed, or at least they stopped until they selected a new chief. The killing of Osama bin Laden may provide a great deal of emotional satisfaction for Americans, but it won't necessarily improve the chances of defeating al Qaeda. The killing might even invigorate al Qaeda.
I was serving in Vietnam when North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh died. His death didn't change what was happening in the war.
Bin Laden's presence in an area far removed from the action indicates he might have become little more than a spiritual adviser to al Qaeda with operations controlled by others. If so his death at the hands of the Americans wouldn't affect operations, but his conversion to a martyr could provide a new rallying point.
(Incidentally, criticism of Pakistanis for not realizing he was at that compound ignores the fact that Pakistan has far more drug dealers / smugglers than terrorist leaders and drug dealers might also prefer to live in a fortress.)
Al Qaeda has been relatively ineffective for years, possibly because bin Laden has not provided effective leadership. Subordinates might have been afraid to challenge him because of his past role with the organization. His death could allow a more dynamic, imaginative, aggressive leader to take over. When a shrub stops growing, pruning off the old wood can give it new life.
Existing al Qaeda leaders might compete for the top position by conducting terrorist missions. Other organizations such as Hamas might seek a role in the new al Qaeda.
Perhaps members would be more willing to seek an alliance with an existing nation, particularly Libya which is fighting European "crusaders". An alliance wasn't practical before bin Laden's death because Qaddafi would both have wanted to be the leader. Qaddafi previously supported international terrorism.
The killing of Qaddafi's son and grandchildren shortly before the killing of bin Laden gives Libya and al Qaeda a common desire for revenge. Qaddafi can offer financing to al Qaeda in exchange for assistance fighting the NATO backed contras, or whatever the rebels are calling themselves.
Libyan rebel leader Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi is an al Qaeda veteran and potentially take over if he came to power in Libya and was able to divert part of its oil revenue to al Qaeda.
Some in the Pakistan military may be so upset at the embarrassment caused by conduct of such an attack near their capital that they will give advanced weapons to al Qaeda and the Taliban. We can only hope that the Pakistan government adds extra security for its nuclear weapons.
Pakistan is not a tiny banana republic like Venezuela. It has half the population of the U.S. and the world's 7th largest military, including nuclear armed missiles.
Pakistan is a democracy which means the government must consider popular sentiment which could become more anti-U.S. as a result of the raid. If Obama's critics are correct about him visiting Pakistan in 1981 as a student using an Indonesian passport (possibly under the name of Barry Soetoro or Barry Durham) and Pakistan had a record of that visit, Pakistan could embarrass him by releasing the information. I don't know if embarrassing Obama after he embarrassed Pakistan by violating its sovereignty would be enough to quiet any public outcry against the U.S.
Obama's decision to secretly bury bin Laden at sea could be a blunder. The action sounds like a coverup because when criminals "bury" a body in the water it's to prevent discovery of the crime.
If al Qaeda could find someone who looks like bin Laden and could imitate his voice, it could make a video claiming the U.S. killed the wrong man.
It would have been better to have had someone other than bin Laden's wife and U.S. experts provide identification for the body. His wife might have identified the body as his so the U.S. would stop looking for him.
Burying him at sea won't prevent someone from establishing a shrine to him, but instead would allow a shrine to be build any place, including the place where he was killed, or in their view where he became a martyr..
The U.S. could have avoided the possibility of a shrine at his grave site by turning the body over to family members who had disowned him for burial at an secret site in Saudi Arabia which had revoked his citizenship.. Acceptance of the body by family members, who would not have been identified, would have provided more reliable identification of it.
Releasing of photos of the shooting won't provide proof he was killed. Hollywood routinely simulates the killing of actors in movies. Jay Leno has occasionally shown doctored videos showing bin Laden at various locations, including the White House. Release of the photos would be more likely to inflame his supporters than to prove he was killed.
Fortunately, Obama's release of his long form birth certificate prior to the death of bin Laden gives Obama more credibility than he would have had. Without that release, al Qaeda members might have compared the "missing" body to his missing birth certificate.
Donald Trump in recent weeks had been advising President Barack Obama to produce his Hawaiian birth certificate to prove he had one. Truimp refused to let journalists force him into dropping the subject. Obama had been refusing to give in until April 27th when Obama blinked.
Trump recognized that a president cannot have the confidence of the people if he withholds information for no apparent reason. The document Obama released on the 27th doesn't contain any information that needed to be kept secret.
Trump's willingness to stand firm to force Obama to do what he should have done long ago demonstrates Trump's leadership ability. Trump is more likely to stand firm against foreign leaders than Obama who let European leaders con him into a foolish Libyan adventure that has raised gas prices.
Obama is an attorney and shouldn't have needed to be reminded that an attorney is most likely to win if he presents the best possible evidence to the court, or (as an elected official) to the voters.
During the last two years the failure to provide the long form birth certificate has been a major distraction which has created doubts about whether Obama was even qualified to be president. Obama has been oblivious to the fact that his unwillingness to release the document was hampering his presidency.
If Trump wants to continue an offensive against Obama, he should focus on Libya and ask what the real reason for American involvement is. Trump might also ask Obama how NATO plans to stabilize the situation if Qaddafi is forced out of office. Al Qaeda attempted take to advantage of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein to take over Iraq and can be expected to attempt to take over Libya is Qaddafi is forced out. Has Obama secretly promised U.S. troops to keep al Qaeda out of Libya?
The ancestors of today's Europeans couldn't understand the significance of what they were doing when they vandalized Rome. The modern descendants of those Vandals are capable of understanding the significance of their actions.
The Vandals who sacked Rome had nothing to lose from the destruction. The Vandals who are sacking Libya have a lot to lose from the destruction.
The destruction of the Libyan military is creating an opportunity for al Qaeda to take over Libya. Al Qaeda is a long time adversary of Muammar Qaddafi, but had been too weak in Libya to challenge him.
NATO's attacks on Qaddafi's military are rapidly changing that balance. Afghan war veteran Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi is already taking advantage of the situation to lead the anti-Qaddafi effort in Darnah. He potentially could use his combat experience to take over the rebel movement.
If al Qaeda takes over Libya, it will have access to oil money and perhaps gain an opportunity to blackmail European governments to get out of Afghanistan. If al Qaeda takes advantage of NATO's overthrow of Qaddafi to take over Libya many NATO leaders will join their Arab counterparts in the unemployment line.
Some might even face criminal prosecution for treason (giving aid and comfort to the enemy). In the U.S. a latter day Joe McCarthy might emerge and use the incident to attack individuals who had nothing to due with the decision.
NATO is risking creating anarchy. Anarchy tends to produce tyrants The difficulties of replacing anarchy after the fall of a tyrant can produce a new tyrant like Napoleon or Lenin. Anarchy in Libya could also cause a cutoff of oil until someone restores order.
The U.S. is still in Iraq because of the difficulties of restoring a stable government. The American presence prevented al Qaeda from taking over Iraq as it attempted to do even with the American presence.
NATO needs to be preparing to move a peacekeeping force into Libya to replace the government NATO is destroying. Marines from NATO nations should be on the ships offshore now or be in route to them. American paratroopers in Italy and the paratroopers of other NATO members should be loading planes with equipment and preparing their gear so they can take off at any time. Turkey would be the best choice to control post-Qaddafi Libya because it's a Muslim nation. .