During his counterterrorism speech on Thursday, President Obama defended the use of drones by saying the following:
To begin with, our actions are effective. Don’t take my word for it. In the intelligence gathered at bin Laden’s compound, we found that he wrote, “We could lose the reserves to enemy’s air strikes. We cannot fight air strikes with explosives.”
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.
The Ummah should put forward some, but enough, forces to fight America. The Ummah must keep some of its forces on reserve. This will be in the Ummah’s best interests. The Ummah will use the reserve in the future, but during the appropriate time.
In the meanwhile, we do not want to send the reserves to the front line, especially in areas where the enemy only uses air strikes to attack our forces. So, the reserves will not, for the most part, be effective in such conflicts. Basically, we could lose the reserves to enemy’s air strikes. We cannot fight air strikes with explosives!
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:
It is known that they teach in military and war science that if a war breaks out between two countries, the two countries do not send all of their forces to the front line. Instead, they hold back some forces, especially forces with special training.
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):
We have plenty of time to view and examine the appropriate time to begin our jihad work against the apostate regimes in the region…We still have a powerful force which we can organize and prepare for deployment. The organization process and the preparation for deployment will need time.
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:
Our goal is to build our state, then spread God’s Call to the rest of the world. We can, God willing, accomplish this goal, as long as we stay put on the path of jihad.
We need to concentrate our jihad efforts in areas where the conditions are ideal for us to fight. Iraq and Afghanistan are two good examples. We do not have to rush to other areas of conflict, especially in areas which appear to have unfavorable jihad conditions.
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.
The special election campaign for Senate in Massachusetts is only a few days old, but it's already looking close. A new PPP poll shows Democrat Ed Markey leading his Republican opponent, Gabriel Gomez, by only four points. Here's more from PPP:
PPP's first poll of the general election in the Massachusetts Senate special finds a close race, with Ed Markey leading Gabriel Gomez by a 44-40 margin.
Top U.S. intelligence officials revealed new details about the exploitation of Osama bin Laden’s extensive archive during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday. The officials revealed that at least several hundred intelligence reports have been generated based on an analysis of bin Laden’s files.
During the House Intelligence Committee hearing today on “Worldwide Threats,” Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper said that he has recently had conversations about releasing more of the documents captured in Osama bin Laden’s compound. More of the documents should be released, Clapper said.
In February, Esquire magazine published a lengthy profileof "The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden." The story did not identify the killer by his real name, referring to him only as "the Shooter."
The Shooter told Esquire that the night bin Laden was killed he had encountered al Qaeda's leader face-to-face in the top-floor bedroom of the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where bin Laden had been hiding for more than five years.
Director Kathryn Bigelow, who won an Oscar for The Hurt Locker after a career of making worse-to-middling action pictures, is a visionary of the grubby. In that 2009 Iraq war movie, and in her new one about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, sand and dirt and grime and mold and mildew and puddles become characters as vivid as, if not more vivid than, the humans. Bigelow anthropomorphizes grubbiness—investing it with menace, or despair, or sadness, or pathos, or rage, or whatever the scene calls for.
In response to a report that classified information had been leaked to the makers of the Hollywood movie Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, says he's concerned.
Mark Bowden, the author of Black Hawk Down and, most recently, of The Finish: The Killing Of Osama Bin Laden (for which he interviewed President Barack Obama), claimed on CNN last night that Obama and his political team are actively playing down al Qaeda for political gain:
On and around September 11, 2012, al Qaeda attacked multiple American assets around the world. The attack that has received the most attention is the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. But the U.S. consulate in Libya was not the only diplomatic facility assaulted by al Qaeda-affiliated groups in September. Terrorists with ties to al Qaeda’s senior leaders, including al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, were involved in at least three other U.S. embassy sieges in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, and possibly elsewhere.
A central tenet of President Obama’s foreign policy platform is that al Qaeda is “on the path to defeat.” The death of Osama bin Laden, drone strikes in northern Pakistan and elsewhere, the Arab Spring, and Obama’s more conciliatory approach to the Muslim world have all supposedly come together to sound the death knell for al Qaeda.