Syria: maybe the world will get lucky and they’ll all snuff each other

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**Posted by Phineas

The Assad family dictatorship has been pretty darned awful, but the opposition isn’t any better. The al-Nusra front, a major component of the Free Syrian Army that’s fighting to overthrow Assad, is about to be declared a terrorist organization. Given al Nusra’s involvement in the massacre of civilians and their connection to al Qaeda, you can probably see why it would be problematic for us to start giving them lots of weapons.

No problem, though. We can just arm the other rebel  groups, and everything will be hunky-dory.

Erm… Well…

Meanwhile, however, the “new opposition coalition” fighting for Syria, whose unity was solidified in mid-November, isn’t much of a step forward.  Its leader is Moaz al-Khatib, a Muslim Brotherhood member with a history of anti-Semitic, anti-Western statements, who has castigated as “revisionists” fellow Muslims (like Alawites) whose beliefs differ on the margins, and who believes that the bombing of Israelis is “evidence of God’s justice.”  Al-Khatib admires Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who encourages Muslim nations to acquire nuclear weapons and “terrorize their enemies.”  Western media naturally refer to al-Khatib as a “moderate.”

With Al-Nusra and the new opposition coalition duking it out for Syria against Iran and Assad, Greenfield puts it this way: “Syria is coming down to a race between the Iranian allied Syrian government, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda.”

Wonderful. At least we have Team Smart Power to sort all this out for us and make the savvy choices, right?

Right? smiley worried

I have no problem with playing the “Great Power” game and working to overthrow Assad, an important client of Iran and patron to Iran’s cat’s-paw, Hizbullah. Taking down the mafiocracy in Damascus would gravely weaken the influence of  the mullahs in the area around Israel. They know that, too, which is why they’ve put their elite Revolutionary Guard corps into Syria’s “internal” war. And, let’s face it, the Iranians have been at war with us since the Shah was overthrown, whether we’ve acknowledged that or not.

But, let’s be smart about it. Giving weapons to those who might turnaround some day and use them on us or our allies would be trading one hot mess for another, all in pursuit of a short-term gain. It may well be that, in light of calm analysis, our options there are limited, that there may only be a very few players we can work with. Fine. Far better be it to play the mediocre hand we’ve got and establish what influence we can with a possible post-Assad regime, than it would be to do the equivalent of drawing four cards and hoping for a straight, which is what shoveling weapons at al Nusrah or the FSA and keeping our fingers crossed would amount to.

That worked so well in Libya, after all.

Patience and restraint (and ignoring that fatuous “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine liberal internationalists have fallen in love with) here is by far the smartest use of power.

PS: “But what about Iraq?”, some may ask. “Didn’t you support intervening there?” Yep, I did at the time, and I still do. I believe the liberation of Iraq and the destruction of the Hussein regime was the right thing to do, given the totality of the strategic situation. But one of the weaknesses of the operation was our lack of knowledge about the players on the ground, and that lead to mistakes and serious problems during the occupation. Whatever we do in Syria, I’d like us not to suffer from a similar lack of knowledge.

PPS: Be sure to read all of J.E. Dyer’s post, just to see how charming our potential partners are. Two things to keep in mind: chemical weapons and “bunny snuff videos.”

via The Morning Jolt

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Pearl Harbors then and now

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**Posted by Phineas

In the last surprise attack on American soil before 9/11, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor:

The end of the USS Arizona

(Credit: Aviation History)

My grandfather was a Petty Officer aboard the USS Nevada during the battle. Below are a couple of pictures of his ship under attack, the only battleship to get underway that day:

…and…

Grandpa was having a bad day

(Both photos credit: Naval Historical Center)

As you can see, they had been hit pretty hard. Thankfully, Grandpa survived.

Eleven years ago, we were hit by another fascist enemy, with casualties 25% higher than Pearl Harbor:

(credit: September 11th News)

…and…

(Credit: Aspersions)

…and…

(Scene at the Pentagon. Credit: US Navy via Wikimedia)

Our grandfathers finished their job. Let’s not do any less, shall we?

RELATED: The story of Lt. John William Finn, the last surviving Medal of Honor winner from Pearl Harbor.

NOTE: This is a republishing of a post I make every Pearl Harbor Day.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Benghazi Consulate Massacre: a word of caution about those emails

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**Posted by Phineas

Yesterday I wrote about emails sent from Libya to the State Department and the White House, among others, indicating that an al Qaeda subsidiary, Ansar al Sharia, had taken credit for the assault on our consulate that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. These emails seemed to confirm what many have suspected all along: that the White House knew quickly the attack had nothing to do with an obscure video, that they knew who had really perpetrated it, and that they were lying to the American people to cover up their incompetence and to protect Obama’s reelection chances.

While I still think that’s largely true, last night Daveed Gartenstein-Ross pointed followers to an article containing an observation by Anthony Zelin that makes the “the White House knew within two hours” narrative much less certain:

However, an examination of the known Facebook and Twitter accounts of Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi reveals no such claim of responsibility. Aaron Zelin, a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, tracks dozens of jihadist websites and archives much of what they say. He told CNN he was unaware of any such claim having been posted on the official Facebook page or Twitter feed of Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi.

Zelin, who said his RSS feed sends him any new statement from the group, provided CNN with a copy of that feed. It shows no Facebook update between September 8 and September 12, when a posting late that afternoon first referenced the attack. Zelin notes that the posting referred to a news conference the group had held earlier that day in Benghazi in which it denied any role in the assault on the consulate, while sympathizing with the attackers.

This is an important point: these groups are not shy about claiming credit when they strike at the infidels (that’s us); not only is attacking us an act of religious piety that, in their view, is something to be proud of, but bragging about it also boosts the prestige of their group. Yet they first said nothing, then denied involvement.

The article continues by describing the difficulties of obtaining solid information in a place as chaotic as Libya:

In the hours following such incidents, it is not unusual for “spot reports” from agencies and overseas posts to pour in to the State Department. They typically include intercepts, what’s picked up on social media, witness accounts and what’s being said by local officials. They often contain raw, unfiltered information that is then analyzed for clues, patterns and contradictions.

In the case of the Benghazi attack, there were plenty of contradictions. Such situations are frequently chaotic, with claim and counter-claim by witnesses unsure of what happened when, according to U.S. officials. Building a complete picture without access to first-hand-accounts and little visual evidence can be a major challenge to government experts working from thousands of miles away.

So too have been the attempts to pin down who represents Ansar al-Shariah and their movements on the night of the attack.

Wings of Ansar al-Sharia, which means “partisans” or “supporters of Islamic law,” are based not only in Benghazi but in the Libyan town of Derna, east of Benghazi. The group’s leaders in Derna are thought to include Abu Sufyan bin Qumu, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee.

A different Ansar al-Sharia is affiliated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, and budding franchises are said to exist in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt.

In other words, with groups as decentralized as al Qaeda and its affiliates, the leadership in one place might take false credit, while that in another might deny it altogether, while a third, wholly unrelated group that happens to have the same name might (or might not) be the real perpetrators. (In fact, there is some indication al Qaeda jihadis from Iraq were part of the attack.) Thus the emails from Tripoli are not necessarily as damning as they may seem.

So, while I’m reasonably certain that this was an organized al Qaeda hit and not just a “flash mob with mortars,” I’m withdrawing my specific contention from yesterday that Obama had to have known within two hours that this was a terrorist hit and who did it — for now, until we get better information.

I am not, however, withdrawing or walking-back or wavering in my belief that the administration knew at some point early on that there was no anti-video demonstration and that this might well have been an al Qaeda attack. The evidence is too strong to believe otherwise (such as from drone surveillance during the fight). It appears much more likely, indeed probable, that they desperately latched onto any rumor that would allow them to claim it was someone else’s fault — an obscure film producer in California, for example. And then they stuck with it and lied to us for weeks afterward.

Forget about exactly when they knew: that they knew at all -and Obama and company had to have known- and continued to blow smoke in our faces in order to avoid responsibility is what we need to remember on Election Day.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Benghazi consulate massacre: Obama knew who did it within two hours and lied to us. UPDATE: emails withheld from Senate?

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**Posted by Phineas

US Consulate, Benghazi

Dear Mr. President: Let this be a teaching moment for you not to throw the intelligence and foreign service communities under the bus. They know things you’d rather be kept secret. Try to make them the fall guys, and those things will …somehow… become public:

Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.

The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.

The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Benghazi assault, which President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials ultimately acknowledged was a “terrorist” attack carried out by militants with suspected links to al Qaeda affiliates or sympathizers.

Administration spokesmen, including White House spokesman Jay Carney, citing an unclassified assessment prepared by the CIA, maintained for days that the attacks likely were a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim film.

(Emphasis added)

It wasn’t just “for days” that the administration tried to blame the disaster on a video few had even heard of; with very few exceptions, it went on for two weeks, including an infomercial in Pakistan bought and paid for with US taxpayer money and a presidential address before the UN General Assembly. The film’s maker was rousted out of his home by the sheriffs at night and made a public scapegoat, his free speech rights gut shot and left to bleed.

But it didn’t end after just a few days or even a few weeks, or even after US officials finally acknowledged what our “lying eyes” had been telling us all along, that this was an al Qaeda terrorist operation. Let’s roll tape and review a moment from the second Obama-Romney debate that the president I’m sure wishes we’d all forget:

Remember those first 45 seconds.

The three emails (via PJM) mentioned in the Reuters report detail the early stages of the attack on the consulate. They arrived within the first two hours of a battle that lasted seven hours. There are two key takeaways here:

  • First, amidst all the addresses in the headers, note “nss.eop.gov.” That is the White House Situation Room, President Obama’s emergency command center. It is almost unthinkable that Obama himself wasn’t informed.
  • Second, the subject line of the last email, beginning “UPDATE 2,” reported that Ansar al-Sharia had taken credit for the attack. Ansar al Sharia is al Qaeda’s subsidiary in Libya.

In other words, within 120 minutes of the battle’s beginning, while there still might have been time to send help and save lives, the president, who almost certainly was informed, instead went to bed, lied to us the next day in the Rose Garden (and for weeks after), and that night went to Las Vegas for a fundraiser.

As I’ve written before, these lies could not have been meant to keep secrets from the enemy; al Qaeda knew what they had done. It wasn’t to protect a retaliatory strike, for none was underway. (We were still “investigating,” trying to find out what happened, y’see.)

No, the only purpose of this repeated, serial lying from multiple administration officials, from the president to Secretary of State Clinton to Ambassador Rice to Mouth of Sauron Press Secretary Jay Carney and God knows how many others, was to lie to us, in order to protect Obama’s reelection.

Bear in mind that Obama had spent months spiking the ball over killing bin Laden, culminating at the Democratic convention in Charlotte early last September and proclaiming that al Qaeda was crippled. Then the Benghazi attack occurred, clearly planned in advance, clearly an al Qaeda operation, and, so clearly that even a blind man couldn’t miss it, demolishing Obama’s one great claim to foreign policy success, something he desperately needed in his race against Governor Romney.

And thus the “fables” about a “spontaneous reaction to a hateful video” and “no evidence of terrorism” were born. Thus the midnight knock on the door for guy who had made the video. The only question is who came up with the idea. Axelrod? Jarrett? Cutter? Obama, himself?

We’ll probably find out in a tell-all memoir after the election, when all these wretches are in retirement and pointing fingers at each other.

But I doubt we’ll ever find out who released these emails. That’s a secret that will be kept.

UPDATE: Oh, this is special. Apparently the Senate Intelligence Committee had been asking for the emails for weeks, but the White House –I just know you’ll be shocked– stonewalled them.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Benghazi consulate massacre: White House knew within 24 hours it was a terrorist attack

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**Posted by Phineas

It was on September 11th, 2012, that our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and a supposedly secret safe house there were attacked by jihadists allied with al Qaeda. Our ambassador was raped and murdered. Three other Americans died in the slaughter. For over a week after the attack, spokespeople for the Obama Administration, including the president, himself, insisted the problem started with outrage over an obscure video posted to YouTube and that the attack was a spontaneous eruption, not preplanned:

So, you’ll be totally shocked —SHOCKED, I say!!— to learn that all these wonderful public servants were lying through their teeth.

They knew within a day:

Within 24 hours of the 9-11 anniversary attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, U.S. intelligence agencies had strong indications al Qaeda–affiliated operatives were behind the attack, and had even pinpointed the location of one of those attackers. Three separate U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said the early information was enough to show that the attack was planned and the work of al Qaeda affiliates operating in Eastern Libya.

Nonetheless, it took until late last week for the White House and the administration to formally acknowledge that the Benghazi assault was a terrorist attack. On Sunday, Obama adviser Robert Gibbs explained the evolving narrative as a function of new information coming in quickly on the attacks. “We learned more information every single day about what happened,” Gibbs said on Fox News. “Nobody wants to get to the bottom of this faster than we do.”

The intelligence officials who spoke to The Daily Beast did so anonymously because they weren’t authorized to speak to the press. They said U.S. intelligence agencies developed leads on four of the participants of the attacks within 24 hours of the fire fight that took place mainly at an annex near the Benghazi consulate. For one of those individuals, the U.S. agencies were able to find his location after his use of social media. “We had two kinds of intelligence on one guy,” this official said. “We believe we had enough to target him.”

So not only did they have warning of the attack, but they knew by September 12th that it was a jihadist strike and they had even located one of the ringleaders. Look at the dates on that list above, again. For two full weeks after the massacre and intelligence catastrophe, high officials from the president on down were insisting it was either a spontaneous outgrowth from a demonstration that got out of hand (And to which people just happened to bring heavy weapons.) or that we just didn’t know and were still investigating.

It’s not that they lied that’s so appalling; all administrations will lie when it comes to national security matters, if they feel it’s necessary. And often they’re right to do so, when telling the truth could lead to greater harm.

But it’s the motive for these lies that’s truly offensive. It wasn’t to fool the enemy — they knew what really happened. It wasn’t to deceive them about our response; if we knew where one of these clowns was hiding, we could have snatched or killed him by now, and the administration could spike the ball on this, too. No, the Obama administration’s reactions in the wake of the massacre were too clumsy and uncoordinated to be a cover for retaliatory operations. They simply didn’t know what to do, except play CYA. It’s politically insane, because, had they come out and said forcefully “It’s a war. Al Qaeda hit us, but we’ll get these monsters,” much of the nation would have instinctively “rallied to the flag” and backed Obama.

Instead they lied. To us. Why?

The only motive for this serial lying was to deceive us. They are desperate to get the press off their backs and mollify the American people, treating the MSM like tools (admittedly, that’s often justified) and us like idiots or gullible children in the hope they can avoid a well-earned heaping helping of blame for this deadly fiasco. Obama’s reelection is all that matters.

Americans died, Obama lied.

As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy writes on a closely related matter:

If they lie, you can’t trust them. That’s a fairly straightforward rule. It is certainly the one that trial lawyers bank on.

It is not a hard and fast rule. A person may shade the truth for various reasons: vanity, personal allegiances, financial incentives, etc. Usually, once you figure out the relevant motivation, you can sort out on what matters he is probably credible and what he is prone to lie about. Sometimes, though, the story is so unbelievable, so insulting to the intelligence, that a rational juror knows it is best to discount all of the testimony — or, worse, to conclude that the truth is likely the opposite of the witness’s desperate version.

The claim that the demonstrations and embassy invasion in Cairo and the massacre in Libya were spontaneous reactions to an obscure video is just that sort of insult to our intelligence. It is sad and pathetic.

Just like the Obama administration, itself.

via Hot Air

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

House GOP protests any plan to release Blind Sheikh

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**Posted by Phineas

Looks like I’m not the only one who finds this rumor credible. Several House Republican committee chairmen have written the Secretary of State and the Attorney General to say “Don’t you dare:”

The lawmakers called recent reports that the inspiration behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing could be released in a goodwill gesture to Cairo. He is currently serving a life sentence behind bars.

“Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength,” the chairmen wrote. “…The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is – a sign of weakness and a lack of resolve by the United States and its President.”

Signing the letter were Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Homeland Security Chairman Pete King (R-N.Y.), Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), and Appropriations subcommittee chairmen Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Kay Granger (R-Texas).

Read the rest: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland vehemently denied there were any plans or even preliminary negotiations to release Abdel-Rahman, but note again that she said nothing about not transferring him to Egyptian custody…

This just stinks of appeasement.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Dear President Obama: no, no, no, NO!!!

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**Posted by Phineas

This had better just be a rumor:

The U.S. State Department is actively considering negotiations with the Egyptian government for the transfer of custody of Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as “the Blind Sheikh,” for humanitarian and health reasons, a source close to the the Obama administration told TheBlaze.

“Humanitarian reasons” my rear end! If they’re considering this, it’s because their whole foreign policy in the Middle East has blown up in their faces, and Abdel-Rahman’s release has been one of the Islamists’ demands for decades. Just weeks before the current crisis, Egypt’s President Morsi, himself a Brotherhood member, had been pressing for Abdel-Rahman’s release. They’re in a panic.

And who is “the Blind Sheikh?” He was the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the jihad’s first attempt to bring those buildings down. Six people died in that attack, including a pregnant woman, and more were seriously injured. We were lucky only that the bomb makers underestimated how much explosive they would need. If anything, Abdel-Rahman should have been taken out and hanged.

And we’re negotiating for this savage’s release? Seriously??

According to the DoJ… “Nah, not happening:”

The Department of Justice, however, told TheBlaze that Rahman is serving a life sentence and is not considered for possible “release.” Previous calls to the State Department were referred to the Department of Justice and so far, the State Department has neither confirmed nor denied the report.

Well, that’s comforting. Not. Note that, while they said Abdel-Rahman was not eligible for release, they didn’t say a thing about not transferring him to Egyptian custody “for humanitarian reasons.” (Poor baby’s not been feeling well. I weep.) You can bet what’s left of your 401K that’s what they’re discussing.

But, it’s just a rumor, right? Hold on a minute:

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, who was the lead prosecutor in the Blind Sheikh case, told TheBlaze that he does not doubt the accuracy of the report, saying “there are very good reasons as to why it could be true.”

McCarthy explained that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has been calling for the release of the Blind Sheikh ever since he was elected earlier this year. He said it is a matter of “great importance” to the radical Islamists in Egypt and throughout the Middle East, adding that his transfer to Egypt would undoubtedly lead to the terrorist’s release.

“I think the plan has been to agree to the Blind Sheikh’s release but not to announce it or have it become public until after the election. That is consistent with Obama’s pattern of trying to mollify Islamists,” he added. “Obviously, they did not want this information to surface yet… but sometimes a situation can spin out of control.”

Given this administration is so quick to appease that it would make Neville Chamberlain blush, I find this rumor very credible, too. And that has my blood boiling.

No fan of Obama, but still skeptical, Allahpundit wonders what possible political advantage the White House could see in such a crap sandwich of a deal:

Just one question: What would Obama get out of it, assuming he followed through on this in a second term? His credibility on counterterrorism would be shattered instantly; all the GOP accusations of appeasement, which have failed to get traction against the guy who ordered Bin Laden taken out, would finally have a track to run on. After years of trying, the Dems have finally pulled even with the GOP on the question of which party is better on fighting terror; hard for me to believe O’s going to give that away in one fell swoop. Granted, a lame duck wouldn’t have to worry about his own reelection but he would have to worry about vulnerable Democrats in Congress, whom he’d need to achieve any of his second-term goals. And no, needless to say, “humanitarian and health reasons” won’t be enough to justify the release. That wouldn’t have flown even before Britain gave the Lockerbie bomber back to Libya, but after Megrahi lingered for years after doctors had given him six months to live, that all but ensured no western government will ever try that excuse again.

One problem: Obama doesn’t give a tinker’s cuss about the congressional Democrats. He never has. He’s already factored in a future Republican congress and plans to pursue his agenda through the regulatory powers of the presidency. What he wants is for this mess in the Islamic world to calm down, now, before the press can’t cover for him anymore. A deal with Morsi over Abdel-Rahman might just give him that, especially if he can hold off on the “transfer” until after the election.

You know, when he’ll have more flexibility.

Transferring Omar Abdel-Rahman to Egyptian (read: Muslim Brotherhood) custody would be the ultimate “briar patch” moment for Team Smart Power’s foreign policy, doing exactly what the jihadists want. Not only would it insult the Rule of Law, not only would it be a slap in the face to the victims and their survivors, it wouldn’t even do any good! It would be a craven, cowardly act of appeasement that would only lead to further demands and further American deaths, not peace, because they know they can get away with it.

Churchill once wrote of appeasement:

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile – hoping it will eat him last”

And the crocodile always comes back for more.

via Blue Crab Boulevard

SNEAKY AFTERTHOUGHT: What if the story is true, but someone in the government who still has a shred of decency left was rightfully appalled and leaked this to a friend, who leaked it to a friend, who told another friend who knew Glenn Beck, who was the first to break this? That would be a good way to put a lot of pressure on the administration to put down the stupid idea and back away. If so, well played. Well played.

RELATED: More at Roger’s Rules; Fausta calls it insane. Andy McCarthy has written the definitive book on the 1993 WTC bombing and the prosecution of the Blind Sheikh, called “Willful Blindness.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Arguments against the President “Valerie, may I?” story

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**Posted by Phineas

Yesterday I posted an article about the assertion in a forthcoming book by journalist Richard Miniter that President Obama let himself be talked out of the bin Laden assassination mission three times, before finally okaying it, by long-time close adviser Valerie Jarrett, a corrupt slum-lord. Now that I’ve had 24 hours to calm down (1), there are reasonable arguments for questioning the story. I’ll present them here and let you decide:

Anonymous sources: Miniter cites “an unnamed source with Joint Special Operations Command who had direct knowledge of the operation and its planning.” The trouble with an unnamed source is that you have no way of verifying what the source is saying, because you don’t know who he or she is. You have to take the intermediary’s word (in this case, Miniter’s) that the source is credible, telling the truth.

What if the anonymous source was really in no place to know the things he claims? What if he’s making it all up to inflate his own importance? What if he observed things, but misinterpreted them? What if Miniter’s source and Ulsterman’s are one in the same? Then, instead of Miniter confirming the earlier piece, he’s merely repeating the same uncorroborated gossip. And (candy for the conspiracy buffs out there) what if the whole story is a Republican plant meant to embarrass Obama? It wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened in American politics, that is, the press being used to bring down an opponent. From the reasonable to the wild, all these doubts show why we should be very careful of “anonymous insiders.”

In the end, it was his call, after all: The story paints a picture of Obama as indecisive, weak. As I put it, he ran to his political nursemaid to ask if launching the raid was a good idea, and she told him “no.”

But there’s another way to look at it. Obama is naturally cautious and diffident when faced with having to make a real decision, and invading the territory of an ally unannounced was darned risky — an act of war, without a doubt. And he is entitled to ask advice of anyone he chooses. Perhaps he felt the intel wasn’t solid enough and Jarrett’s arguments were enough to convince him of “not yet.” In other words, he sought advice, not permission. And he did, in the end, make the final decision to go.

Finally, Jim Geraghty at The Campaign Spot makes the following argument:

Put another way: apparently Valerie Jarrett made enemies like Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs at times. You don’t think guys like that would leak something like that if they knew, in an effort to undermine her influence?

Point taken.

(Geraghty also makes a political observation we should keep in mind: the Obama administration would love to argue about Osama’s death from now until election day, because the discussion always ends with “and then we got him.”)

For what it’s worth, the White House has denied and denounced the report, while Miniter has dared them to prove him wrong:

The author of a new book describing presidential paralysis prior to the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout is demanding the White House back up its vehement denials with documentation.

“I call on them to release the full [planning] timeline, starting in October 2010, of each of the major decisions that the president made relating to the bin Laden mission,” author Richard Miniter told The Daily Caller.

TheDC asked Miniter if his inside sources might go public with their accounts of presidential indecision. “Yes, yes,” he replied. “There is a chance.”

(via Nice Deb)

I hope the source does go public, since we, then, will be in a better position to make our own judgement. October surprise, anyone?

So, what do I think? At this point, I think it’s more likely true than not. Not because of Miniter’s or Ulsterman’s source(s), about whom we know nothing, but because it seems to fit with Obama and his long relationship with Jarrett. She has been a close patron and key counselor for Barack and Michelle Obama for many, many years. Close enough that the account in “Leading from Behind” is, I suspect, closer to the truth than not.

We’ll see.

Footnote:
(1) I freely and cheerily admit to having a “hot button” about 9/11, al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and a president’s proper response. Said response being “Hunt them down like rabid dogs and kill every last one of them!” And I get angry at any hint of softness on this issue. I doubt I’ll ever change.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Secrets? We don’t need no steeenking secrets!

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**Posted by Phineas

Oh, what the heck? Why not tell al-Qaeda just what we’re doing in North Africa, where we’re doing it from, and what kinds of planes we’re flying?

And while we’re at it, let’s give them the nuclear launch codes, too:

U.S. expands secret intelligence operations in Africa

Note that word “secret” Shh! You don’t know anything about this… Don’t tell! 

The U.S. military is expanding its secret intelligence operations across Africa, establishing a network of small air bases to spy on terrorist hideouts from the fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator, according to documents and people involved in the project.

At the heart of the surveillance operations are small, unarmed turboprop aircraft disguised as private planes. Equipped with hidden sensors that can record full-motion video, track infrared heat patterns, and vacuum up radio and cellphone signals, the planes refuel on isolated airstrips favored by African bush pilots, extending their effective flight range by thousands of miles.

About a dozen air bases have been established in Africa since 2007, according to a former senior U.S. commander involved in setting up the network. Most are small operations run out of secluded hangars at African military bases or civilian airports.

The article insists that much of this report (and, again, it’s fascinating reading) comes from public sources… but much of it doesn’t, also. And while it’s one thing to say the US is ramping up special forces operations in Africa with the cooperation of friendly local governments, it’s a whole other ball of “WTF??” to publicize details of bases, cities, and just which governments are helping us. Just the kind of things Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQAM, the local AQ affiliate) or the Nigerian Boko Haram would love to know so they can have an easier time striking back against our… “secret” operations.

I had to love this little gem from late in the article:

In an interview with The Post, Djibril Bassole, the foreign minister of Burkina Faso, praised security relations between his country and the United States, saying they were crucial to containing al-Qaeda forces in the region.

“We need to fight and protect our borders,” he said. “Once they infiltrate your country, it’s very, very difficult to get them out.”

Bassole declined, however, to answer questions about the activities of U.S. Special Operations forces in his country.

“I cannot provide details, but it has been very, very helpful,” he said. “This cooperation should be very, very discreet. We should not show to al-Qaeda that we are now working with the Americans.”

Umm…. too late?  Hate to break it to you, Djibril, but al-Qaeda has people who can use computers and probably saw the same article I did. Agreeing to drinks with the Post reporter was not the best idea, capiche?

This may be another in the series of leaks designed to make Obama look tough on national security, or it may just be a case of too many people being too willing to talk to the reporter from the big newspaper and wanting to look important. Regardless, I wish to God more people would remember that we are at war and that, sometimes, silence really is a virtue.

As the great Strother Martin once said, “Morons. I’ve got morons on my team.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Yemen underwear-bomb plot: I was right

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**Posted by Phineas

A few days ago, when writing about the revelation of a Al Qaeda plot to blow up a commercial flight with a new and improved underwear bomb and our penetration of said plot, I speculated as to why we were hearing about what should have been a top-secret operation:

With the economy in the crapper and the public mood so bad that even a convicted felon gives Obama a run for his money in a Democratic primary, Obama needs all the good news he can get.

You can bet on it: The One and his team couldn’t wait to brag about this. And all it cost was letting AQAP know just how much we had penetrated them.

I’m sorry to say I was right:

Detailed leaks of operational information about the foiled underwear bomb plot are causing growing anger in the US intelligence community, with former agents blaming the Obama administration for undermining national security and compromising the British services, MI6 and MI5.

The Guardian has learned from Saudi sources that the agent was not a Saudi national as was widely reported, but a Yemeni. He was born in Saudi Arabia, in the port city of Jeddah, and then studied and worked in the UK, where he acquired a British passport.

Mike Scheur, the former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit, said the leaking about the nuts and bolts of British involvement was despicable and would make a repeat of the operation difficult. “MI6 should be as angry as hell. This is something that the prime minister should raise with the president, if he has the balls. This is really tragic,” Scheur said.

He added: “Any information disclosed is too much information. This does seem to be a tawdry political thing.”

He noted that the leak came on the heels of a series of disclosures over the last 10 days, beginning with a report that the CIA wanted to expand its drone attacks in Yemen, Barack Obama making a surprise trip to Afghanistan around the time of the Bin Laden anniversary and “then this inexplicable leak”.

The agent was apparently a Yemeni studying in Britain who was recruited by MI6 and spent over a year in Yemen covincing Al Qaeda that he was ready and willing to be a suicide bomber. When he got his hands on the bomb, he was spririted out of the country. Now Al Qaeda can be certain who the mole was; this guy is going to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder, wondering when the revenge hit will strike.

And it’s bad enough that we blew our own secrets, but we compromised British and Saudi intelligence, too. As the article goes on to point out, the British may well think twice and then think again before sharing with us. The danger, of course, is not just a loss of trust between intelligence services that have a long tradition of close cooperation, but that, for failure to share information, we might miss a terrorist plot in the making and wind up with a lot of corpses and a lot of grieving families wondering how it could have happened.

All because either Obama himself or someone on his team wanted to make him look tough for his reelection campaign.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is not happy and he’s asking questions:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) blamed administration “chest-thumbing” for the leak of information over an intelligence operation which thwarted a plot to bomb an America-bound airliner.

“I think there was a little premature chest-thumbing,” said Rogers on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “I’ve ordered a preliminary review. And I’ll tell you something, this has been a damaging leak. We shouldn’t underestimate what really happened here.”

(…)

Rogers was asked by host Bob Schieffer if he believed information about the operation was leaked to the press by administration officials “to take credit for it.”

“I said chest-thumping, but it clearly raises some serious questions that we are going to have to ask,” responded Rogers. “We do know that the CIA was trying to stop the story and we know that there was a scheduled White House or at least planned press conference on the particular event. Those two disparate positions lead one to believe that someone was at odds over how much they should or shouldn’t talk about it.

“It’s clear that the information was leaked. That information as presented at some point to the CIA,” added Rogers. “The CIA at that point tried to put the story back in the can for security reasons. People’s lives were at stake during this operation. And that’s where it gets a little murky, which is why I ordered the review. “

To top it all off, while the administration was apparently anxious to blab to all and sundry about the operation, they neglected to tell the ranking members of the Intelligence Committee, even though they’re required to do by statute. Probably shouldn’t be surprised, though; it’s not as if they’ve shown any respect for Congress’ oversight function in the past.

I’m tempted to quote again Bill Clinton on the amateurs in the White House, but that would be too flip. These amateurs aren’t just earnest bumblers; they’re doing real harm.

And it’s worrying.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)