Archive for the ‘terrorism’ Category

We’re No Longer Thinking Trough Problems? Gitmo, Stimulus, Cap and Trade are Just a Few Examples

May 22, 2009

If you had fallen asleep, say, last November, only to wake up this week, you might ask: “When did we stop thinking through the solutions to our problems?”

The answer, one might suppose, could be that if you have a Democrat in the White House and a huge Democrat majority in the House and Senate, no further thinking is required.

For example: after two years of preaching about the immorality of Gitmo, the Congress rejected the funding the White House requested to close Gitmo because they weren’t given a plan on where to put the prisoners.

So the President yesterday gave another hour-long sermon on Gitmo.  To which Harry Reid said, “We still need a plan.”

Not only that, the plan in the speech hasn’t been well thought out.  

“There’s a whole contingent of issues that have to be well thought out before we ever agreed to bring inmates of that caliber into our system,” said Bryan Lowry, president of the National Council of Prison Locals, which represents federal correctional officers.

The stimulus, which spread out $787 billion of taxpayers money like manure on the land wasn’t read by any “lawmaker” that any member of the media has found.  Now Henry Waxman has offered to cure this problem on the Cap and Trade Bill: he’s hired a speed reader.

Rip van Winkle might just elect to go back to sleep fearing that this is going from really bad to really worse….

Here’s a thought: reactivate Alcatraz, put the Gitmo prisoners there and they can vote for Nancy Pelosi…..

Even Joe Biden says we aren’t thinking:
Biden on Obama’s Gitmo “Plan”: “It’s Like Opening Pandora’s Box”

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/0
5/22/supermax-no-were-not-rea
dy-president-obama/

Related:
Hezbollah to Obama: Please Take This Fool Biden Back
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Bush Waterboarded Three Terrorists; Obama Shot Three Pirates — War is Hell
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What California, Pelosi, Waxman, Feinstein and Schwarzenegger Can’t Ignore: Except They’ve Already Proven Stupidity
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“Nobody liked it that we didn’t read the stimulus bill so we hired a speed reader for Waxman’s bill” – Congress

Related:
Obama’s Bone Head Moves, First 100 Days: Add “Photo Op” Of Air Force One For $75,000 “Plus” Freaked Out New Yorkers

Obama White House Engineered Photo Ops, Publicity Stunts Not Always Honest, Well Conceived

 Obama’s Dumb Moves Getting More Difficult to Ignore? On Friday Mainstream Media Realiazes Monday’s Cabinet Meeting Was Laughable, Really

If you had told me some of these Obama stories three months ago I would have said “impossible!”

Was it Joe Biden, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton that thought it was a good idea to encourage Russia to just hit the “reset” button?  Well, whoever…..

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a red button marked "reset" in English and "overload" in Russian.
Coffrini/Getty

Related:
Barack, Hillary: Moronic “Reset” Idea for Relations With Russia

Let’s Talk: Pirate Episode Hurt Obama’s Negotiating Cred

 Obama Loses Photo Op War To Chavez (and the Saudi King, and….): Call Oprah!

The fact that American “lawmakers” are busy passing bills that they haven’t read seems to go hand in glove with a White House that hasn’t thought through the implications of many things.  The Obama Bow to the Saudi King smacks of obeisance; defined as “bending the head or body or knee as a sign of reverence or submission or shame;” or “the act of obeying; dutiful or submissive behavior with respect to another person.”

The President of the United States Barack Obama greets King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

The President of the United States Barack Obama greets King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Photo: Getty Images

Is this what the White House wanted?  It is what they got.

The Brit Prime Minister got movies on CD from the President of the United States: not a very symbolic gift.  One was “Star Wars.”  And nobody in the White House even checked to see if these CDs can be watched in the UK (they use different digital formatting: the CDs given by Obama are “blank” on UK machines).

Don’t forget, many Presidents of the United States do their work in the Oval Office on the “Resolute Desk” which is made from the timbers of a Royal Navy Warship.  That’s symbolism.

JFK among otheres used the “Resolute Desk” — a gift from the UK.  Obama returned one gift from the UK: A Statue of Sir Winston Churchill.

The president gave the Queen of England an IPod — made in China.

The Secretary of State in this Obama Administration gave her Russian counterpart a giant red button which was supposed to be marked “reset.”  But the word was not spelled correctly or was just flat out the wrong word.  Besides:  to most Russians a giant red button is for launching nuclear weapons…..

So what are we resetting to with Russia?  Ask Joe Biden: it was his idea apparently to make the ‘reset” button.  Joe “Advisor to Many Presidents” Biden should have asked the staff to discuss with him how Vladimir Putin might reset — back to his KGB roots?
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Muslim Terrorists Offer To Lay Down Their Arms, Renounce Terrorism, To Thank Obama For Closing Gitmo

May 22, 2009

We’ll be waitning to see that headline.  Forever.

Yesterday President Obama said (again):

“Instead of serving as a tool to counter-terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.”

Former Vice President Cheney said:

“Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a “recruitment tool” for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, “We brought it on ourselves.”

If terrorists are delighted that Gitmo is closing it will be because they are now going to live on U.S. soil with the hope of meeting even more people they can recruit to their cause, as Michelle Malkin points out….

http://michellemalkin.com/200
9/05/22/the-jihadi-virus-in-our-jails/

Obama Vindicates Bush

May 22, 2009

If hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue, then the flip-flops on previously denounced anti-terror measures are the homage that Barack Obama pays to George Bush. Within 125 days, Obama has adopted with only minor modifications huge swaths of the entire, allegedly lawless Bush program.

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post

The latest flip-flop is the restoration of military tribunals. During the 2008 campaign, Obama denounced them repeatedly, calling them an “enormous failure.” Obama suspended them upon his swearing-in. Now they’re back.

Of course, Obama will never admit in word what he’s doing in deed. As in his rhetorically brilliant national-security speech yesterday claiming to have undone Bush’s moral travesties, the military commissions flip-flop is accompanied by the usual Obama three-step: (a) excoriate the Bush policy, (b) ostentatiously unveil cosmetic changes, (c) adopt the Bush policy.

Cosmetic changes such as Obama’s declaration that “we will give detainees greater latitude in selecting their own counsel.” Laughable. High-toned liberal law firms are climbing over each other for the frisson of representing these miscreants in court.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co
ntent/article/2009/05/21/AR2009052103
680.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney said in his speech May 21, 2009:

President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less20disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11.

It’s almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future.

Read it all:
Cheney Speech Text, May 21, 2009

39% Say U.S. Legal System Too Worried About Individual Rights Over National Security

May 21, 2009

In the tension between individual rights and national security, 39% of voters nationwide now believe that our legal system worries too much about protecting individual rights.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 24% believe our legal system worries too much about national security and 25% say the balance is about right.

Those figures confirm a shift in perceptions that was first recorded….

Read the rest from Rasmussen:
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politi
cs/general_politics/39_say_u_s_legal_system_too_wo
rried_about_individual_rights_over_national_security

National Security: Obama says he’s undoing ‘mess’ left for him; Cheney disagrees

May 21, 2009

“We are cleaning up something that is, quite simply, a mess, a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my Administration is forced to deal with on a constant, almost-daily basis, and that consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country,” President Obama said, referring to Gitmo, the enhanced interrogation techniques and the military tribunals. 

President Barack Obama gave a national security speech today, laying out his position on Gitmo, interrogations and terrorist.

Related:

White House: “It Was a Mistake” To Set Up Gitmo. Really?

President Barack Obama
APSaid former U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and New York Daily News columnist Ralph Peters, “This did not sound like our president.  It sounded like some lawyer….”

 

“Obama should get on with governing,” Peters said, “not worrying about the comfort of terrorist prisoners.”

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s speech, called a rebuttal, was scheduled before Obama’s and without knowledge of Obama’s text.

Cheney said only three men were “waterboarded” and all had vital information needed to prevent further attacks.  Cheney asked that the documents showing how the prisoners responded to EIT’s be released.

Cheney was undoubtedly sure of what the president was expected to say.

“People who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about ‘values,'” Cheney said.

“We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans,” said Cheney.

“To completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe. The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the President is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States. Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned … one lead that goes unpursued … can bring on catastrophe – it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance.”

“Apparently using the term “war” where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we’re advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as, quote, “Overseas contingency operations.” In the event of another terrorist attack on America, the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, quote, “man-made disaster” – never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of protecting Americans from terrorist attack.

And when you hear that there are no more, quote, “enemy combatants,” as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they are – or what they would do if we let them loose.”

Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia had a pretty good take on the two speeches:

“Salesmanship versus policy preference. The better salesman is unquestionably Barack Obama, and his credibility advantage gets the administration’s proposals a fair hearing by the voters. Dick Cheney is firmly tied to an unpopular, discredited administration, and it is tough for many people to ignore the messenger so that they can fairly evaluate the message. Yet the other fundamental is at the heart of the President’s problem. Obama is trying to sell a disliked policy. Nothing in his speech acted as an antidote to the NIMBY response that has overwhelmed his high minded argumentation for closing Guantanamo and bringing most detainees to the U.S. If the Republicans had a more appealing spokesperson for their point of view, they might prevail. If the President had a more appealing policy, he might prevail. The party that changes this equation in its favor over the coming months may win the day on this critical matter.”

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From Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times

Accusing President Obama of giving Americans “less than half the truth,” former Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday tough interrogation tactics worked, and said the tactics had the approval of members of Congress including current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The former vice president said the president’s attempt to find a middle ground that angers the right and the left is compromising American security: “in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half-exposed.”

Mr. Cheney said tough interrogation tactics “were legal, essential, justified, successful and the right thing to do.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/20
09/may/21/cheney-says-pelosi-knew-interrogations/

Cheney Speech Text:
Cheney Speech Text, May 21, 2009

Obama Speech Text:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/
05/21/raw-data-text-president-obam
as-speech-national-security/
:

Michelle Malkin:
http://michellemalkin.com/200
9/05/21/obama-channels-john-kerry/

Related

Cheney Speech Text, May 21, 2009

May 21, 2009
Thank you all very much, and Arthur, thank you for that introduction. It’s good to be back at AEI, where we have many friends. Lynne is one of your longtime scholars, and I’m looking forward to spending more time here myself as a returning trustee. What happened was, they were looking for a new member of the board of trustees, and they asked me to head up the search committee.
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I first came to AEI after serving at the Pentagon, and departed only after a very interesting job offer came along. I had no expectation of returning to public life, but my career worked out a little differently. Those eight years as vice president were quite a journey, and during a time of big events and great decisions, I don’t think I missed much.
Being the first vice president who had also served as secretary of defense, naturally my duties tended toward national security. I focused on those challenges day to day, mostly free from the usual political distractions. I had the advantage of being a vice president content with the responsibilities I had, and going about my work with no higher ambition. Today, I’m an even freer man. Your kind invitation brings me here as a private citizen – a career in politics behind me, no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek.
The responsibilities we carried belong to others now. And though I’m not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do. We understand the complexities of national security decisions. We understand the pressures that confront a president and his advisers. Above all, we know what is at stake. And though administrations and policies have changed, the stakes for America have not changed.
Right now there is considerable debate in this city about the measures our administration took to defend the American people. Today I want to set forth the strategic thinking behind our policies. I do so as one who was there every day of the Bush Administration –who supported the policies when they were made, and without hesitation would do so again in the same circumstances.
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When President Obama makes wise decisions, as I believe he has done in some respects on Afghanistan, and in reversing his plan to release incendiary photos, he deserves our support. And when he faults or mischaracterizes the national security decisions=2 0we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer. The point is not to look backward. Now and for years to come, a lot rides on our President’s understanding of the security policies that preceded him. And whatever choices he makes concerning the defense of this country, those choices should not be based on slogans and campaign rhetoric, but on a truthful telling of history.
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Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after September 11th, 2001 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America … and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.
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That attack itself was, of course, the most devastating strike in a series of terrorist plots carried out against Americans at home and abroad. In 1993, they bombed the World Trade Center, hoping to bring down the towers with a blast from below. The attacks continued in 1995, with the bombing of U.S. facilities in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the killing of servicemen at Khobar Towers in 1996; the attack on our embassies in East Africa in 1998; the murder of American sailors on the USS Cole in 2000; and then the hijackings of 9/11, and all the grief and loss we suffered on that day.
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Nine-eleven caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that had been gathering for a while, and enemies whose plans were getting bolder and more sophisticated. Throughout the 90s, America had responded to these attacks, if at all, on an ad hoc basis. The first attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a law enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact – crime scene, arrests, indictments, convictions, prison sentences, case closed.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks at the American Enterprise ...

Former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Thursday, May 21, 2009.

(AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
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That’s how it seemed from a law enforcement perspective, at least – but for the terrorists the case was not closed. For them, it was another offensive strike in their ongoing war against the United States. And it turned their minds to even harder strikes with higher casualties. Nine-eleven made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a clear strategic threat – what the Congress called “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” From that moment forward, instead of merely preparing to round up the suspects and count up the victims after the next attack, we were determined to prevent attacks in the first place.

We could count on almost universal support back then, because everyone understood the environment we were in. We’d just been hit by a foreign enemy – leaving 3,000 Americans dead, more than we lost at Pearl Harbor. In Manhattan, we were staring at 16 acres of ashes. The Pentagon took a direct hit, and the Capitol or the White House were spared only by the Americans on Flight 93, who died bravely and defiantly.
Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn’t know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.
These are just a few of the problems we had on our hands. And foremost on our minds was the prospect of the very worst coming to pass – a 9/11 with nuclear weapons.
For me, one of the defining experiences was the morning of 9/11 itself. As you might recall, I was in my office in that first hour, when radar caught sight of an airliner heading toward the White House at 500 miles an hour. That was Flight 77, the one that ended up hitting the Pentagon. With the plane still inbound, Secret Service agents came into my office and said we had to leave, now. A few moments later I found myself in a fortified White House command post somewhere down below.
There in the bunker came the reports and images that so many Americans remember from that day – word of the crash in Pennsylvania, the final phone calls from hijacked planes, the final horror for those who jumped to their death to escape burning alive. In the years since, I’ve heard occasional speculation that I’m a different man after 9/11. I wouldn’t say that. But I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.
To make certain our nation country never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target. But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks. We decided, as well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of the United States. We turned special attention to regimes that had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer such weapons to terrorists.
We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these policies in place. It has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations … the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network … and the dismantling of Libya’s nuclear program. It’s required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan – and at every turn, the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive – and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed.
So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.
The key to any strategy is accurate intelligence, and skilled professionals to get that information in time to use it. In seeking to guard this nation against the threat of catastrophic violence, our Administration gave intelligence officers the tools and lawful authority they needed to gain vital information. We didn’t invent that authority. It is drawn from Article Two of the Constitution. And it was given specificity by the Congress after 9/11, in a Joint Resolution authorizing “all necessary and appropriate force” to protect the American people.
Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.
In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations.
In top secret meetings about enhanced interrogations, I made my own beliefs clear. I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program. The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people.
Our successors in office have their own views on all of these matters.
By presidential decision, last month we saw the selective release of documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a bold exercise in open government, honoring the public’s right to know. We’re informed, as well, that there was much agonizing over this decision.
Yet somehow, when the soul-searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question. Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release. For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.
Over on the left wing of the president’s party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they’re after would be heard before a so-called “Truth Commission.” Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It’s hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize t he policy decisions of its predecessors.
Apart from doing a serious injustice to intelligence operators and lawyers who deserve far better for their devoted service, the danger here is a loss of focus on national security, and what it requires. I would advise the administration to think very carefully about the course ahead. All the zeal that has been directed at interrogations is utterly misplaced. And staying on that path will only lead our government further away from its duty to protect the American people.
One person who by all accounts objected to the release of the interrogation memos was the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta. He was joined in that view by at least four of his predecessors. I assume they felt this way because they understand the importance of protecting intelligence sources, methods, and personnel. But now that this once top-secret information is out for all to see – including the enemy – let me draw your attention to some points that are routinely overlooked.
It is a fact that only detainees of the highest intelligence value were ever subjected to enhanced interrogation. You’ve heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Muhammed – the mastermind of 9/11, who has also boasted about beheading Daniel Pearl.
We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country. We didn’t know about al-Qaeda’s plans, but Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we didn’t think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.
Maybe you’ve heard that when we captured KSM, he said he would talk as soon as he got to New York City and saw his lawyer. But like many critics of interrogations, he clearly misunderstood the business at hand. American personnel were not there to commence an elaborate legal proceeding, but to extract information from him before al-Qaeda could strike again and kill more of our people.
In public discussion of these matters, there has been a strange and sometimes willful attempt to conflate what happened at Abu Ghraib prison with the top secret program of enhanced interrogations. At Abu Ghraib, a few sadistic prison guards abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulations, and simple decency. For the harm they did, to Iraqi prisoners and to America’s cause, they deserved and received Army justice. And it takes a deeply unfair cast of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful, and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a few malevolent men.
Those personnel were carefully chosen from within the CIA, and were specially prepared to apply techniques within the boundaries of their training and the limits of the law. Torture was never permitted, and the methods were given careful legal review before they were approved. Interrogators had authoritative guidance on the line between toughness and torture, and they knew to stay on the right side of it.
Even before the interrogation program began, and throughout its operation, it was closely reviewed to ensure that every method used was in full compliance with the Constitution, statutes, and treaty obligations. On numerous occasions, leading members of Congress, including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on the program and on the methods.
Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.
I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about “values.” Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program, there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans.
Those are the basic facts on enhanced interrogations. And to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.
The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the President is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States. Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned … one lead that goes unpursued … can bring on catastrophe – it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance.
Behind the overwrought reaction to enhanced interrogations is a broader misconception about the threats that still face our country. You can sense the problem in the emergence of euphemisms that strive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and the terrorist enemy. Apparently using the term “war” where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we’re advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as, quote, “Overseas contingency operations.” In the event of another terrorist attack on America, the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, quote, “man-made disaster” – never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of protecting Americans from terrorist attack.
And when you hear that there are no more, quote, “enemy combatants,” as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they are – or what they would do if we let them loose.
On his second day in office, President Obama announced that he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation and no plan. Their idea now, as stated by Attorney General Holder and others, is apparently to bring some of these hardened terrorists into the United States. On this one, I find myself in complete agreement with many in the President’s own party. Unsure how to explain to their constituents why terrorists might soon be relocating into their states, these Democrats chose instead to strip funding for such a move out of the most recent war supplemental.
The administration has found that it’s easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo. But it’s tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America’s national security. Keep in mind that these are hardened terrorists picked up overseas since 9/11. The ones that were considered low-risk were released a long time ago. And among these, it turns out that many were treated too leniently, because they cut a straight path back to their prior line of work and have conducted murderous attacks in the Middle East. I think the President will find, upon reflection, that to bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside the United States would be cause for great danger and regret in the years to come.
In the category of euphemism, the prizewinning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we’ve captured as, quote, “abducted.” Here we have ruthless enemies of this country, stopped in their tracks by brave operatives in the service of America, and a major editorial page makes them sound like they were kidnap victims, picked up at random on their way to the movies.
It’s one thing to adopt the euphemisms that suggest we’re no longer engaged in a war. These are just words, and in the end it’s the policies that matter most. You don’t want to call them enemy combatants? Fine. Call them what you want – just don’t bring them into the United States. Tired of calling it a war? Use any term you prefer. Just remember it is a serious step to begin unraveling some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11.
Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a “recruitment tool” for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, “We brought it on ourselves.”
It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as victims exactly the best judges of America’s moral standards, one way or the other.
Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.
As a practical matter, too, terrorists may lack much, but they have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion … our belief in equal rights for women … our support for Israel … our cultural and political influence in the world – these are the true sources of resentment, all mixed in with the lies and conspiracy theories of the radical clerics. These recruitment tools were in vigorous use throughout the 1990s, and they were sufficient to motivate the 19 recruits who boarded those planes on September 11th, 2001.
The United States of America was a good country before 9/11, just as we are today. List all the things that make us a force for good in the world – for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences – and what you end up with is a list of the reasons why the terrorists hate America. If fine speech-making, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see th e American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for – our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.
What is equally certain is this: The broad-based strategy set in motion by President Bush obviously had nothing to do with causing the events of 9/11. But the serious way we dealt with terrorists from then on, and all the intelligence we gathered in that time, had everything to do with preventing another 9/11 on our watch. The enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees and the terrorist surveillance program have without question made our country safer. Every senior official who has been briefed on these classified matters knows of specific attacks that were in the planning stages and were stopped by the programs we put in place.
This might explain why President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less20disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11.

It’s almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future.

Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States. The harm done only begins with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists, who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual. Across the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear that sensitive joint operations will be compromised. And at the CIA, operatives are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough. Why should any agency employee take on a difficult assignment when, even though they act lawfully and in good faith, years down the road the press and Congress will treat everything they do with suspicion, outright hostility, and second-guessing? Some members of Congress are notorious for demanding they be briefed into the most sensitive intelligence programs. They support them in private, and then head for the hills at the first sign of controversy.
As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of his defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won’t let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I’ve formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected. It’s worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself. President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.
I believe this information will confirm the value of interrogations – and I am not alone. President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair, has put it this way: “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” End quote. Admiral Blair put that conclusion in writing, only to see it mysteriously deleted in a later version released by the administration – the missing 26 words that20tell an inconvenient truth. But they couldn’t change the words of George Tenet, the CIA Director under Presidents Clinton and Bush, who bluntly said: “I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.” End of quote.
If Americans do get the chance to learn what our country was spared, it’ll do more than clarify the urgency and the rightness of enhanced interrogations in the years after 9/11. It may help us to stay focused on dangers that have not gone away. Instead of idly debating which political opponents to prosecute and punish, our attention will return to where it belongs – on the continuing threat of terrorist violence, and on stopping the men who are planning it.
For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will stand up well in history – not despite our actions after 9/11, but because of them. And when I think about all that was to come during our administration and afterward – the recriminations, the second-guessing, the charges of “hubris” – my mind always goes back to that moment.
To put things in perspective, suppose that on the evening of 9/11, President Bush and I had promised that for as long as we held office – which was to be another 2,689 days – there would never be another terrorist attack inside this country. Talk about hubris – it would have seemed a rash and irresponsible thing to say. People would have doubted that we even understood the enormity of what had just happened. Everyone had a very bad feeling about all of this, and felt certain that the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville were only the beginning of the violence.
Of course, we made no such promise. Instead, we promised an all-out effort to protect this country. We said we would marshal all elements of our nation’s power to fight this war and to win it. We said we would never forget what had happened on 9/11, even if the day came when many others did forget. We spoke of a war that would “include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success.” We followed through on all of this, and we stayed true to our word.
To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.
Along the way there were some hard calls. No decision of national security was ever made lightly, and certainly never made in haste. As in all warfare, there have been costs – none higher than the sacrifices of those killed and wounded in our country’s service. And even the most decisive victories can never take away the sorrow of losing so many of our own – all those innocent victims of 9/11, and the heroic souls who died trying to save them.
For all that we’ve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings. And when the moral reckoning turns to the men known as high-value terrorists, I can assure you they were neither innocent nor victims. As for those who asked them questions and got answers: they did the right thing, they made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.
Like so many others who serve America, they are not the kind to insist on a thank-you. But I will always be grateful to each one of them, and proud to have served with them for a time in the same cause. They, and so many others, have given honorable service to our country through all the difficulties and all the dangers. I will always admire them and wish them well. And I am confident that this nation will never take their work, their dedication, or their achievements, for granted.
Thank you very much.

Related:
National Security: Obama says he’s undoing ‘mess’ left for him; Cheney disagrees

Terror? Men From Mosque Planned Attack on Synagogue, Air Base; Said They Were Sorry WTC Wasn’t Still Around to Attack

May 21, 2009

Federal agents arrested four men and charged them with plotting to bomb a Bronx synagogue and attack military planes at a New York National Guard air base.

In a criminal complaint unsealed late Wednesday night, federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District identified the men as James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen.

Read it all from The Wall Street Journal:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1242874
00693842147.html

CBS:
http://wcbstv.com/local/terror.plot.te
mple.2.1015238.html

************************

Four men arrested after planting what they thought were explosives near two New York City synagogues were disappointed that the World Trade Center wasn’t still around to attack, a federal prosecutor said Thursday as the men appeared in court for the first time.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090521/ap_on_re
_us/us_temple_plot;_ylt=AjPPMsfZaJ4nc8iIGCw
xst2s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTJmdDZyZWc4BGFzc2
V0A2FwLzIwMDkwNTIxL3VzX3RlbXBsZV9w
bG90BGNwb3MDMQRwb3MDMgRzZWMDeW
5fdG9wX3N0b3J5BHNsawNmZWRzbnlzdXNwZWM

Pakistan is Fighting But is This a Serious Effort To Destroy The Taliban?

May 12, 2009

FACED with catastrophe, Pakistan still has time to play the dead-man’s hand it holds. The question is whether its leaders are betting or bluffing.

The recent, belated military response to the Taliban’s dissection of the country, combined with the disgust locals feel over extremist excesses, offers a potential winning formula.

By Ralph Peters
New York Post

Unless Pakistan’s government chooses to lose.

First, consider the current offensive to drive Taliban fighters from Buner and parts of the Swat Valley. Sounds great. But we’ve already bought that used car, only to see it break down pulling out of the lot.

Yes, the Pakistani army and its paramilitary Rangers are fighting. But the key questions are “For how long?” and “How far will they go?” A limited operation will have limited results. The religious extremists must be destroyed if Islamabad wants a return of peace and order.

Overheated news reports focus on refugees and distant air strikes. But every battle seems like the big one to the inexperienced. You can’t tell what’s really gone down until the dust settles.

Read the rest:
http://www.nypost.com/seven/05122009/po
stopinion/opedcolumnists/paks_p
oker_hand_168800.htm

For Obama, Gitmo Has Become a Tar Baby of His Own Making

May 9, 2009

On Wednesday, April 29, in an East Room news conference, President Barack Obama claimed, “We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.” That simply isn’t true. What he did do was issue an executive order directing the facility be closed by January 2010 — more than seven months from now. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama — in his naive exuberance to fulfill a pledge that had earned standing ovations and rave reviews from the mainstream media during the presidential campaign — really didn’t have a plan. That’s coming back to haunt him.

On Wednesday, while Mr. Obama was holding a photo op at the White House with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, quietly deleted funds for closing Gitmo from the fiscal year 2009 supplemental spending bill. The O-Team had requested $80 million for this fiscal year and an equal amount for next year to cover the expense of shuttering the detention facility and relocating the terrorists housed there. Obey, one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill, justified eliminating the FY ’09 funds by noting, “I personally favor what the administration is talking about doing, but so far as we can tell, there is yet no concrete program for that.” Just in case the nice folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. didn’t get the message, Obey added, “While I don’t mind defending a concrete program, I’m not much interested in wasting my energy defending a theoretical program.”

On Wednesday, April 29, in an East Room news conference, President Barack Obama claimed, “We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.” That simply isn’t true. What he did do was issue an executive order directing the facility be closed by January 2010 — more than seven months from now. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama — in his naive exuberance to fulfill a pledge that had earned standing ovations and rave reviews from the mainstream media during the presidential campaign — really didn’t have a plan. That’s coming back to haunt him.

On Wednesday, while Mr. Obama was holding a photo op at the White House with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, quietly deleted funds for closing Gitmo from the fiscal year 2009 supplemental spending bill. The O-Team had requested $80 million for this fiscal year and an equal amount for next year to cover the expense of shuttering the detention facility and relocating the terrorists housed there. Obey, one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill, justified eliminating the FY ’09 funds by noting, “I personally favor what the administration is talking about doing, but so far as we can tell, there is yet no concrete program for that.” Just in case the nice folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. didn’t get the message, Obey added, “While I don’t mind defending a concrete program, I’m not much interested in wasting my energy defending a theoretical program.”

Read the rest from Oliver North:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/
articles/2009/05/09/gitmo_quag
mire_96416.html

Israeli PM: global threat of terror greater than ever

April 28, 2009

As Israel commemorated Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers and victims of terror on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the global threat of terror was greater than ever and vowed that Israel would never cease to defend itself.

“We have no choice but to fight terror until it is obliterated and to defend our lives,” he told bereaved families gathered for the official state ceremony on the Mount Herzl military ceremony in Jerusalem.

“This is what we have done and what we are doing. The State of Israel, through the Israel Defense Forces, has responded with war, determination and diligence, with courage and sophistication, using an incomparable morality of combat,” he said.
.
“Terror is a war crime, the indiscriminate murder of innocent civilians,” the prime minister added.

From Haaretz (Israel):
http://www.haaretz.com/has
en/spages/1081771.html