Tag Archives: predator drone

Friday Evening News Roundup

For some reason, I got a call from the Republican National Committee. The guy started off with some small talk and then said that he knows I’ll agree that President Obama has not handled the economy in a responsible way (I’m paraphrasing). I said, “No, I don’t agree with that statement.” He hung up. 🙂 Let’s skip over the fact that somebody placed me on the RNC call list. Let’s think about this statement just for a second. President Obama has mishandled the economy. How? What was he supposed to do? Economists almost universally agreed that we needed a stimulus package. We needed a stimulus package that equalled somewhere around 10% of GDP. That would’ve been a stimulus package of $1.5 trillion. He was barely able to get a package through Congress that was half of what we needed. So, when economic growth petered out after 12 months or so, who’s surprised? Who were the ones who limited the size of the stimulus? Was it the Democrats or was it the Republicans? Again, I would ask what was Obama supposed to do? More tax cuts which don’t work?

Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, has passed a bill which alters the filibuster. It doesn’t eliminate it, but it alters it. I’m not sure I completely understand this.

Gaile Owens was released from prison in Tennessee. She was on death row but the governor pardoned her last year. She was placed on parole today. Read about her story here.

As most of you know, the predator drone is this small attack airplane that is flown via remote control. Well, it seems that some computer virus has gotten into its system. This can’t be good. This seems like an episode of NCIS – LA.

Rick Perry just stated at the Values Voter Summit that “every human being is entitled to life.” I guess that doesn’t include the 234 people that have been executed while he’s been governor of Texas.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has proposed zero corporate tax if corporations bring their money back from overseas. Of course, he wants us to forget that this has been tried before and it’s been nothing but a windfall for big corporations who momentarily bring their money back only to open new tax shelters overseas.

There’s some serious concern that Monarch butterflies, which fly from as far north as Canada and then roost in Mexico won’t make it through Texas. Read more here. (This has nothing to do with Rick Perry and the death penalty, I promise.)

More e-mails have been released from the White House regarding Solyndra, the failed solar panel company. Just for a second, let’s get some perspective. We, the American people, have been paying somewhere around $4.5 billion per year in tax deductions, preferences and credits for the oil and gas industry. Let’s see… $4.5 billion verses $535 million. Secondly, even those guys who understand money, venture capitalists, don’t get 100% return on their investment. Instead, they’re expecting a 20% return on their investment. They’re expecting that only one or two companies out of every 10 that they invest in to make it big. They are expecting several companies to break even and a couple to fail. This is their business model. Their business model isn’t 100% success on every investment.

It seems that AT&T wants to stick it to customers.

The new job numbers are out. They were slightly better than I expected.

I guess that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor does not like democracy. He seems to have some issues about Occupy Wall Street. He says that he’s becoming increasingly concerned about the “mobs.” I guess he should’ve been equally concerned about the Tea Party.

Read the compelling stories of the new Nobel laureates for Peace. Very powerful.

Occupy Together is the unofficial hub of all of the events going on around the country. Check it out.

So, what’s on your mind? What stories are you following?

The trail to Osama Bin Laden

The world is an extremely complex place, filled with lots of nuance. Neither the right nor the left really has the correct narrative. One side wants to give President Barack Obama all the credit for tracking down Osama bin Laden. The other side wants to give President Bush all the credit. Neither narrative is true. One side wants to tell us that torture was completely vindicated by the death of Osama bin Laden. The other side wants us to know that torture had nothing whatsoever to do with the intelligence that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. In reality, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle. There is probably some shred of truth that some information came from torture or “enhanced interrogation techniques.” On the other hand, it is not clear if we’ve could’ve gotten that information in other ways. The same thing holds true for President Bush and President Obama. It is probably true that the changes that took place in the intelligence community laid the groundwork for the cooperation that we saw between special forces, the military, the FBI and the CIA. It is also true that President Barack Obama chose a team that can work together and get the job done. He was the one that authorized the team to go and get Osama bin Laden. He decided not to use predator drone strikes or a B-52 bombing raid. (I do not understand a spontaneous party outside of the former president’s house at one in the morning.)

While I believe in the rule of law, I also understand that Osama bin Laden is/was a killer. I understand that he murdered thousands of Americans and Muslims. I understand that, like Bonnie and Clyde or Pablo Escobar, he was not going to be taken quietly. He was not going to recite his own Miranda rights. I am completely comfortable with the president’s decision to kill Osama bin Laden. I also endorse the scrutiny and the questions about the legality of the president’s actions. I think this is a healthy debate. In the end, it doesn’t matter what other people decide. I know that if I were president, I would’ve authorized a strike on Osama bin Laden. Any president who wants to protect the American people would’ve made that decision. I understand. I think the American people understand. Now, let the lawyers figure it out.

Marcy Wheeler has a wonderful post on the trail of evidence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden:

The AP has confirmed that intelligence leading to the courier that in turn led to Osama bin Laden came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and–as I surmised earlier–Abu Faraj al-Libi while in CIA custody. But partly because of the language AP uses to describe this–and partly because the wingnuts love torture–many are drawing the wrong conclusion about it. Here’s what the AP says:

Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

Note what AP says: KSM provided the courier’s nom de guerre. The CIA got similar information from al-Libi. And they were tortured. The AP does not say torture led to this information.

Here’s what a senior administration official said last night about when they got the intelligence on the courier.

Detainees gave us his nom de guerre or his nickname and identified him as both a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of September 11th, and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the former number three of al Qaeda who was captured in 2005.

Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with and protecting bin Laden. But for years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location.

Four years ago, we uncovered his identity, and for operational reasons, I can’t go into details about his name or how we identified him, but about two years ago, after months of persistent effort, we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated. [my emphasis]

In other words, while the CIA may have learned the courier’s nickname earlier, they didn’t learn his true name until “four years ago”–so late 2006 at the earliest. And they didn’t learn where the courier operated until around 2009. (more…)

Bin Laden is dead! (Updated – there are several)

Awaiting President Obama’s announcement. This is what we know…or think we know. It has been nine years since 9/11. It has been eight years since George W. Bush declared Mission Accomplished.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I have called for the death of Osama Bin Laden for years. We took the fight to Bin Laden. We focused. We got the resources necessary and accomplished the task. This is how America works. I can’t let this topic go without mentioning how Bush failed. There are going to be many bloggers who are going to rub Bush’s face in his failure. I will say that we had the tools to get Bin Laden when Bush was in the White House. I will not say any more on this at this time.

Information on the city that Bin Laden was found in – Abbottabad.

From President Bush:

Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.

From LAT:

A CIA-led operation has killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and recovered his body after a tortuous decadelong hunt for the elusive militant leader who commanded the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. government officials said Sunday night.

CIA Director Leon Panetta called key members of Congress late Sunday to describe the killing of the Al Qaeda leader, and President Obama is expected to make the announcement on national TV.

From WaPo:

Al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden is dead and the United States has his body, a person familiar with the developments says.

President Barack Obama is expected to make that announcement from the White House late Sunday night.

From MSNBC:

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is dead and the U.S. has his body, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.

U.S. President Barack Obama was to make the announcement shortly that after searching in vain for bin Laden since he disappeared in Afghanistan in late 2001, the Saudi-born extremist is dead, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Details of the death were sparse. A senior U.S. counterterrorism official, who spoke with the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said bin Laden was killed in a ground operation in Pakistan, not by a Predator drone. The official said it happened last week.

CNN and Reuters reported that the al-Qaida leader was killed in a mansion outside Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.

It is a major accomplishment for Obama and his national security team, having fulfilled the goal once voiced by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, to bring to justice the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

From Yglesias:

I’ve seen this Mark Twain line dug up by a number of people: “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”

Seems about right.

Finally, I must wonder how we did this. How did we kill Osama bin Laden? Yes we’ve all heard about the intelligence tip. We’ve heard about the compound. We’ve heard about the helicopter and how one of them crashed. We’ve heard about the firefight. But what was different? What did we do different this time that we didn’t do last year or five years ago or even 10 years ago? I really can’t count President Clinton’s effort to kill Osama bin Laden. Yes, President Clinton understood the risk that Osama bin Laden posed but he did not go after Osama bin Laden with the full force of our military. He couldn’t. He was politically hamstrung. You can make other excuses for President Clinton but this is the reality. Monica Lewinsky and Newt Gingrich made it impossible for him to fully go after Osama bin Laden. President Bush, on the other hand, told us that he wanted Osama bin Laden “dead or alive.” President Bush told us that he was throwing the full resources of the American government behind getting this terrorist. Yet, we came up empty. Why? Was the difference truly the president’s resolve and focus? Did the CIA make the difference? Was Leon Panetta a better manager of the CIA than George tenet? Did he make the difference? In the coming weeks and months we will hear more details about how this was actually accomplished. We hear a lot about the military personnel that were involved. We will hear more about the presidential decisions and Barack Obama’s role in directing the CIA and the military. In my mind, the bottom line is that in spite of all of the criticism that President Barack Obama has had to endure, he has risen to the task and gotten the job done. Whether it was turning the economy around or passing health-care legislation or winding down the Iraq war, Barack Obama has figured out a way to get the task accomplished.