Selectively Citing Osama Bin Laden
12:50 PM, May 24, 2013 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
During his counterterrorism speech on Thursday, President Obama defended the use of drones by saying the following:
It is true that the drone strikes have been effective in killing terrorists. So the president is right in that regard and deserves credit for the slaying of some senior al Qaeda and al Qaeda-affiliated operatives. However, drone strikes are only an effective tactic, not a strategy, and the enemy has adapted to this tactic.
Don’t take my word for it. Below is the full quote from the declassified bin Laden document President Obama cited. The president cited only the last two sentences (emphasis added), but the rest of the quote shows that al Qaeda maintains “reserves” outside of the drones’ line of fire. In other words, the full quote shows the limitations of the drone program. Here, bin Laden claims to speak for the entire community of Muslims (the Ummah), but of course al Qaeda does not speak for all Muslims.
Therefore, the full quote actually supports a different argument – that al Qaeda’s “reserves” have been removed from the drones’ kill box. It is quite obvious that improvised explosive devices, car bombs, small arms and the like cannot takeout unmanned drones. So, al Qaeda has simply moved some of its forces elsewhere.
Other documents show that Osama bin Laden ordered some of his minions to relocate to Kunar, Nuristan and elsewhere in Afghanistan. Today, Kunar and Nuristan are al Qaeda safe havens. On the same page as the quote cited by President Obama, Osama bin Laden noted that his “Waziristani brothers” were “frankly exhausted” by the airstrikes. It is for this reason that “reserves” were moved elsewhere. Bin Laden writes:
Several paragraphs later, in this same document cited by President Obama (Document 17 released to West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center by the White House), we learn this (emphasis added):
President Obama trumpeted the “end” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We ended the war in Iraq, and brought nearly 150,000 troops home,” President Obama said. “The Afghan war is coming to an end.”
Now, here is what Osama bin Laden said about Iraq and Afghanistan in the same document cited by the President:
So while al Qaeda’s strategy is to “concentrate” its efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama’s goal is the opposite – to “end” America’s war in both.
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