Nov 12 2008

The NYTimes exposes yet another secret program

Category: media,military,terrorismharmonicminer @ 4:07 pm

The NYTimes is again at work exposing secret US military operations.

The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.

These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.

In 2006, for example, a Navy Seal team raided a suspected militants’ compound in the Bajaur region of Pakistan, according to a former top official of the Central Intelligence Agency. Officials watched the entire mission — captured by the video camera of a remotely piloted Predator aircraft — in real time in the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorist Center at the agency’s headquarters in Virginia 7,000 miles away.

Some of the military missions have been conducted in close coordination with the C.I.A., according to senior American officials, who said that in others, like the Special Operations raid in Syria on Oct. 26 of this year, the military commandos acted in support of C.I.A.-directed operations.

But as many as a dozen additional operations have been canceled in the past four years, often to the dismay of military commanders, senior military officials said. They said senior administration officials had decided in these cases that the missions were too risky, were too diplomatically explosive or relied on insufficient evidence.

More than a half-dozen officials, including current and former military and intelligence officials as well as senior Bush administration policy makers, described details of the 2004 military order on the condition of anonymity because of its politically delicate nature. Spokesmen for the White House, the Defense Department and the military declined to comment.

Apart from the 2006 raid into Pakistan, the American officials refused to describe in detail what they said had been nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks, except to say they had been carried out in Syria, Pakistan and other countries. They made clear that there had been no raids into Iran using that authority, but they suggested that American forces had carried out reconnaissance missions in Iran using other classified directives.

There is much more at the link above.

So who’s leaking, and why, and why did the NYT print the story? Theories, some mutually incompatible:

1) Career staffers, not political appointees, looking for a gig in an Obama administration, are just acting like career staffers, going with the direction of the wind.

2) Some kind of hyper-clever Bush-inspired double entendre is at work. The administration is signaling to some terrorists somewhere that they’ve been located, and might be hit, hoping they’ll move to someplace where they CAN be hit.  No official comment is forthcoming because the administration planted the story in the first place.

3) The NYT is just being the NYT.

4) The public has been assuming all along that this sort of thing is happening (or at least HOPING that has), but the NYT can’t find anything really juicy to reveal, so they went with this.  In that case, it’s just some leaky staffers looking to burnish their credentials as real Washington insiders.

What the NYT doesn’t say, or even suggest, is very simple:  THIS is part of the reason we have not been struck on our own soil since 9/11.  It isn’t just the cells that have been rolled up in the USA, it’s the cells that never got here to BE rolled up, because they were simply destroyed in place.

Damage assessment from the NYT revelations? Not much. The terrorist networks have mostly figured out by now that if they stick their heads up, they may be nailed. That’s why they hide behind women and children, and in mosques and schools. Which is why we send in special forces teams instead of shooting missiles from airborne drones sometimes, to try to kill the bad guys, and leave the rest alone.  The NYT reports this sort of thing with the implication that its somehow bad, when it is an example of restraint not shown by many other nations in similar circumstances, and certainly not by terrorists.

One can only wonder if the man taking office as president will be the aggressive Obama, who was willing to charge into Pakistan after Al Qaeda, or the peace-making negotiator Obama, who will give Iran the time and breathing space they need to finish creating their Bomb. One thing worth noticing, for all you liberal Christians who think that Obama is really against violence because he was against the Iraq war, and who think his Pakistan comments were just to help him get elected and sound tough: his good friend is the unrepentant bomber/terrorist Bill Ayers. Think about what that means.

I wonder if it’s possible that Obama will be that strange contradiction, a politician who is happy to reduce our military strength to fund social welfare programs, while also being perfectly willing to use what military capability we retain.

He’d better be.

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