Yesterday, John Brennan was confirmed by the Senate to become the director of the CIA. This whole brouhaha over John Brennan, national security, drone attacks, Benghazi and the like should seem very familiar to you. This is almost exactly what we went through just a couple weeks ago with Chuck Hagel. Republicans were mad. They were furious. They demanded answers from the Obama administration. They were gonna block this nominee at all costs. Yet, in the end, nothing changed. Best I can tell, the White House did not fork over any mysterious, all-telling documents. There were no significant policy changes. Nothing. Both John Brennan and Chuck Hagel were confirmed. What we did see was the internal struggle within the Republican Party. They simply don’t know who they are. (more…)
As I mentioned almost two weeks ago, we needed to wait until more of the facts were available before coming to a definitive conclusion concerning the role of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the eventual killing of Osama bin Laden. On one hand, you have Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey stating that the trail to bin Laden started with the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. On the other hand, you have a recent Washington Post op-ed by former POW Senator John McCain, in which states, “I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden — as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.”
Both sides of this torture debate are probably wrong. Intelligence and torture are not parts of an all-or-nothing proposal. There are multiple shades of gray. Was everything that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed spewed out under torture wrong? I doubt it. I think that he probably did give us some valuable information. On the other hand, could we have possibly gathered information from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed through other methods? Probably. Our interrogators seem to be very skilled at garnering information over a period of time.
Our moral compass seems to have been broken for some time. We’ve adopted a “win at any cost” type of mentality. It is as if we were prominently playing some sort of reality game. Whether it is reelecting Senator David Vitter or Representative William “cash in my freezer” Jefferson because he is a senior politician and will bring more money to the state, it is simply wrong. Why the good people of Arizona are putting up with the craziness of Senator John Ensign who has proven himself to be unfit to represent anyone is beyond me. In the name of laissez-faire capitalism and open markets, we allowed the American people to get ripped off for over $13 trillion in which Wall Street banks got rich and the rest of us got to see our housing nest eggs depreciate in value.
Torture is wrong. Wherever you want to draw that line in the sand (on one side there’s torture and the other side there is no torture), I want to be far away from that dividing line. Now, conservatives always come up with the 24-hour scenario (based on the Kiefer Sutherland series 24 hours). What if you detain a terrorist who you “know” has information about an impending terrorist attack? Getting that information will save hundreds, if not thousands, of American lives. What you do? In my opinion, you get special permission from Congress to use your enhanced interrogation techniques on this specific terrorist at this specific point in time. I’m hoping that we can find our moral compass before it is too late.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.