Sunday, July 08, 2007

Another Chance To Kill Al-Qaeda Leaders Lost

The New York Times runs, as its lead article this Sunday, a disheartening report that the Bush Administration -- like the Clinton Administration earlier -- passed up a good opportunity to kill or capture Al-Qaeda leaders, including Ayman al-Zawahiri. who were meeting in a border region of Pakistan.

The early 2005 mission would have entailed landing Army Rangers, Navy SEALS and CIA operatives at the meeting site. But with SEALS literally loaded onto C-130 aircraft in Afghanistan the attack was killed by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld out of concern that the mission had grown to such size that carrying it out would have offended the government of Pervez Musharraf, who has repeatedly shied away from exercising control in those very border areas.

The Times story, by Mark Mazzetti, says that the mission had grown to encompass several hundred military personnel, including security forces designed to reduce the risk to the Special Operations people. Such a mission, the story says, would have been too large to conceal from the Pakistani government.

The Times reporte was unable to ascertain whether President Bush was ever told of the mission. If not, one has to ask, why not?

But the story reports that both Porter Goss, then CIA director, and Special Operations commanders, vainly appealed to Rumsfeld to proceed. It also says resentment in the Special Forces that they were not permitted to go ahead continues to be rife.

Even before 9-11, the U.S. government, during the Clinton Administration, had chances to kill or capture Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, but the missions were always aborted out of an unseemly unwillingness to take risks or ruffle feathers, in this case in then-Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. In one case, fear that some Saudi Arabian visitors to a terrorist camp would get caught up in the melee of an American attack and killed, stayed the U.S. hand. How ridiculous!
Killing off bin Laden is far more important than whatever happens to a few Saudis, who shouldn't be visiting the terrorists anyway.

But the unwillingness to proceed in 2005 raises the most serious questions about whether the Bush Administration was adhering to its own stated policies laid down by the President when the War on Terror began, specifically his promise to pursue and destroy the enemy no matter where he was found. And what about Rumsfeld's repeated assertions that he was going to use "shock and awe" to defeat the enemies of the United States?

Tne 2005 mission was not the first time the Administration dropped the ball. It is widely believed that bin Laden was surrounded at Tora Bora at the end of 2001. Yet at that time, it was decided in Washington that rather than risk Ameican lives, we would rely on Afghan forces to run bin Laden to ground. Instead, he escaped into Pakistan and is still free today to organize terror operations throughout the world.

Is this a war we're fighting, or not?

It is certainly a war the enemy is fighting, with brutality of the lowest, most savage order. Just this weekend, the terrorists exploded a truck bomb in the small city of Amerli in northern Iraq, killing at least 115 of the poverty-stricken Turkomen Shiite minority. The Turkish government flew 21 of the wounded today to Ankara for treatment. Altogether in Iraq this weekend, there were 220 killed in terrorist attacks, including nine American fighting men.

It is hardly surprising that so many Americans are discouraged when the Bush Administration has let the war in Iraq go on for more than four years, without ever following the key military principle of going after the enemy full-bore with the aim of destroying him. Had the raid into Pakistan to kill or capture the al-Qaeda chieftains, it is certainly possible the violence in Iraq would have diminished long ago, since the terrorists primarily take their orders and get their supplies from the jihadists in al-Qaeda.

To hold off against an enemy which has used Pakistan as a privileged sanctuary, without regard for the central authority in Pakistan, and perhaps with the connivance of elements of the Pakistan armed forces and Pakistan intelligence, is shocking indeed. It shows a bad judgment in Washington that should be a matter of desperate concern.

The threat of savage Islamic fundamentalists to the world, far from diminishing, has only grown. As this is being written, fanatics in the heart of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad are fighting the Musharraf government from the Red Mosque in that city. There are reports of impending greater strife in Lebanon. Syria has reportedly taken steps that possibly will facilitate war later this summer in the Golan Heights. The British government is still trying to find all the links to the recent attempted Islamic terror attacks in London and Glasgow. Morocco has gone to its highest terrorist alert.

And all these complications may well have been avoided, or at least greatly reduced, had only our Special Forces been able to kill or capture the al-Qaeda leadership.

They were held back by Washington officials. What a bunch of wimps!


A look at the L.A. Times Web site Sunday night shows how far the newspaper has to go before it has an adequate site. The number of items on the first page was far below that appearing on the New York Times Web site at the same time.

David Hiller, incompetent, Chicago-toadying publisher of the Times, has repeatedly vowed to improve the Web site. In this particular as well as many others, he has failed.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are assuming that the NY Times article is accurate.


7/08/2007 7:52 PM  

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