Archive for Osama bin Laden

Who Was President in 1993?

Because whoever he or she was, they got some ‘splainin’ to do:

In a revelation missing from the official investigations of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI placed a human source in direct contact with Osama bin Laden in 1993 and ascertained that the al Qaeda leader was looking to finance terrorist attacks in the United States, according to court testimony in a little-noticed employment dispute case.

The information the FBI gleaned back then was so specific that it helped thwart a terrorist plot against a Masonic lodge in Los Angeles, the court records reviewed by The Washington Times show.

“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al Qaeda, directly involved,” Edward J. Curran, a former top official in the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told the court in support of a discrimination lawsuit filed against the bureau by his former agent Bassem Youssef.

Mr. Curran gave the testimony in 2010 to an essentially empty courtroom, and thus it escaped notice from the media or terrorism specialists. The Times was recently alerted to the existence of the testimony while working on a broader report about al Qaeda’s origins.

Members of the Sept. 11 commission, congressional intelligence committees and terrorism analysts told The Times they are floored that the information is just now emerging publicly and that it raises questions about what else Americans might not have been told about the origins of al Qaeda and its early interest in attacking the United States.

“I think it raises a lot of questions about why that information didn’t become public and why the 9/11 Commission or the congressional intelligence committees weren’t told about it,” said former Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, who chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2004 through 2007 when lawmakers dealt with the fallout from the 9/11 Commission’s official report.

“I do not recall the FBI advising us of a direct contact with Osama bin Laden,” Mr. [Lee] Hamilton told The Times in a recent interview.

Like Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Zelikow said he does not recall ever being told by the FBI about the 1993 source and that Mr. Curran’s disclosure appeared to involve “valuable intelligence gathered in 1993 and 1994.”

Okay, we get that the FBI kept mum on bin Laden’s US terrorist aspirations.

But why?

The 9/11 Commission report broadly outlines how, during the early 1990s, bin Laden was seeking to expand al Qaeda globally — an effort that included “building alliances extended into the United States,” and that “the Blind Sheikh, whom Bin Laden admired, was also in the network.”

But the report downplays the notion that bin Laden was actively plotting or seeking to finance any specific attacks inside the United States as far back as 1993 — two pieces of information that, according to Mr. Curran’s testimony and contemporaneous documents, the FBI’s Los Angeles field office corroborated at the time.

It’s one thing to keep the information to yourself at the time: you don’t want to blab to everybody that you have a confidential source placed next to Public Enemy No. 1. But the 9/11 Commission didn’t start its work until ten years later. Wouldn’t bin Laden’s interest in terrorism on US soil (or air) have been relevant to the story?

Whom were they trying to protect? If we could just get to the bottom of who was President of the United States in 1993—who it was who had the future murderer of nearly three thousand Americans in the palm of one hand, and his schlong in the palm of the other—I think we’d be on to something. Any help?

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You Didn’t Kill That

Someone else made that happen:

Friend –

It’s easy to look at the attacks, smears, and lies being told about President Obama and his record and say, “Come on, that’s ridiculous. No one could possibly believe that.”

Trust me: You and I learned the hard way eight years ago this August that in the new world we’re living in — one with 24-hour news cycles, the internet, blogs, the echo chamber, and now the new Citizens United-fueled Republican money machine — even completely baseless attacks can stick if people don’t call them out quickly enough. No matter how self-evidently false the attacks are, or how disreputable the people telling them may be, there’s no attack that can’t take hold.

Seeing the new outrageous attacks made against President Obama from a shadowy Republican-allied veterans group called OPSEC, which take issue with the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, remind me all too well of the notorious “Swift Boat” attacks I faced in the 2004 campaign. I honor and appreciate the service of my fellow veterans, but a false attack is a false attack — no matter who’s making it.

I haven’t been this scared since the Blair Witch Project! That darned shadowy echo chamber… machine… attack… thingy! You take that back! I saw Obama rappel out of a Black Hawk helicopter myself. His glistening biceps sent a thrill up my leg I’ll never forget. I did think he “over-egged the pudding” a bit by calling out “Say hello to my l’il frien’, O lion of Islam!” But who among us hasn’t showboated just a little bit at a moment of triumph?

Seriously, this may work on the Kool-Aid drinkers, but who thinks its good strategy to wheel out the last guy to lose an easily won election? Jimmy Carter amy be a little old, but Bill Clinton still has his jab—and he won two elections!

What’s Adlai Stevenson up to these days? Surely he’d appeal to the dead set. Chicago’s full of ‘em.


Clinton Diddled While Drones Purred

Or something like that:

On December 20, 1998, an internal CIA memo was sent by a field agent about a missed opportunity to “hit” Osama bin Laden while he was reportedly visiting a mosque near Kandahar, Afghanistan. “I said hit him tonight; we may not get another chance,” CIA agent Gary Schoen wrote. “We may well come to regret the decision not to go ahead.”

The memo was sent to to Michael Scheuer, then head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden “station,” and is one of more than 100 documents declassified and published by the National Security Archive this week. Although some have been previously cited or quoted in the Report of the 9/11 Commission, the raw documents themselves illustrate the frustrations and missteps in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and alarm among some at the CIA about al Qaeda’s growing sophistication and its plans for attacking U.S. interests.

Scheuer replies to Schoen the following day. “This is the third time you and your officers have put UBL in this government’s sights and they have balked each time at doing the job. … They spent a good deal of time yesterday worrying that some stray shapnel might hit the Habash mosque and ‘offend’ Muslims.”

Another memo from Scheuer, in May 1999, complained: “For the past forty months the CIA, and especially the do (Directorate of Operations) has been in this endeavor virtually alone. … until the african bombings [of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998] the u.s. military did not believe that ubl was a problem.”

“Having a chance to get ubl three times in 36 hours and foregoing the chance each time has made me a bit angry,” he writes.

The report also details the use of Predator drones to search for bin Laden, with the first mission on September 7, 2000. But there were concerns that the drones were vulnerable to detection and the U.S. Air Force “notified the CIA it would have to pay for lost aircraft.” Twice in the fall of 2000, a Predator “observed an individual most likely to bin Ladin; however we had no way at the time to react to this information.”

Oh, for [bleep's] sake. I realize 9/11 didn’t happen until 2001, but those in the know knew exactly how bad this mother[bleeping] [bleep]sucker was. Where was the direction from the top of the government to nail this bastard?

Oh yeah, he was nailing someone else at the time.

PS: Same as it ever was:

And in a passage with echoes today, there is a complaint about leaks compromising the Agency’s ability to implement what became known as “the Plan” to get bin Laden. “Persistent publicity and leaks of information about our methods in the United States and abroad caused the terrorists to [redacted] emphasize their compartmentation.”

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Master of Disguise

First he tried to hide among pigs—but the pigs objected:

Osama bin Laden managed to dodge American security forces by moving undetected between safe houses around Pakistan in a large box hidden in a brightly colored truck filled with chickens, the Sunday Times reported, citing Taliban sources.

According to the British newspaper’s report, the box was designed by Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, bin Laden’s trusted aide, who also set up the house in Abbottabad where the al-Qaeda leader lived for five years until he was killed last May by US Navy Seals.

Kuwaiti moved bin Laden by fitting the box to the floor of one of the elaborately decorated trucks that are a common sight on Pakistan’s roads, the report said. The box would be hidden under cargoes of cement, flour or rice — or even beneath livestock such as goats, sheep or chickens.

You can see why the strategy was so effective, can’t you?

[I was torn between this comparison and one along the lines of "who would notice another chicken?" So I used both!]

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Spiking the Nuclear Football

While President Obama was taking his victory lap a year after SEAL Team 6 greased OBL, declaring Al Qaeda as defunct as Gimbels, Al Qaeda begged to differ:

He could have breezed through security at any airport.

A terrorist wearing the latest underwear bomb would not have been caught by the TSA’s most conscientious human screeners or its highest-tech fullbody scanners, experts told The Post yesterday. But the country ducked a disaster by employing an age-old weapon: a double agent.

With the help of American allies in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the secret agent inserted himself into the terrorists’ secret inner circle, and became so trusted, the thugs accepted his offer to board a US-bound plane wearing the bomb.

Instead, the agent turned it over to the United States.

But experts said that as far as future suicide bomb attempts are concerned, current technology is not good enough to find nonmetallic explosive devices like the newest underwear bomb — despite Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s assurance that there was a “high likelihood’’ the bomber would have been stopped.
One top law-enforcement official insisted, “They would not have gotten him.”

This is one of those occasions when US security can proclaim a victory. Usually, it’s only the failures that make the news.

Which makes you wonder:

Federal investigators are conducting a probe into who leaked information about an al-Qaida plot in which an explosive device was to have been detonated on a U.S.-bound airline flight, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity about the leak investigation, which is just getting under way.

An anonymous official leaked information about a leak investigation? Typical.

The federal investigation is the latest move in an aggressive campaign by the Obama administration to crack down on leaks, even as it has supported proposed legislation that would shield reporters from having to identify their sources. The administration has already brought at least six criminal cases against people for discussing government secrets with reporters, more than under any previous presidency.

A spokesman for the AP, Paul Colford, said in a statement that the news organization “acted carefully and with extreme deliberation in its reporting on the underwear bomb plot and its subsequent decision to publish.”

“As the AP has reported, we distributed our exclusive report on the underwear bomb only after officials assured us — on Monday — that their security concerns had been satisfied and we learned that the White House would announce the news the next day,” Colford said.

I’ve got an angle for the FBI to investigate. Given Team Obama’s penchant for boasting (you would have thought Obama himself had caught Osama, with nothing but a lariat and a Swiss Army knife), maybe they leaked the news. They announced it publicly the next day anyway, and it was a national security victory—but as was also true of the OBL raid, premature jubilation can be an embarrassing problem.


Slow Jamming on Osama’s Grave

I think the nation had every right and reason to celebrate the whacking of Osama bin Lyin’-in-his-grave. Part of America’s charm, it seems to me, is the belittling of our enemies, in life and death. (My favorite example being the song going “Hitler was born with just one ball. Goering had two, but very small. Himmler had something sim’lar, and Goebbels had no balls at all.”)

But I did think it was unseemly for Obama to pose urinating on Osama’s body and hold up what was left of his head to put a White Sox cap on it (at least now he can name one of his favorite players on the team—hint: Harold Baines, Mr. President!).

But maybe the president had his reasons:

The Navy SEALS aren’t going to talk? Is she deaf?

In the wake of a warm conservative reception for a web video trashing the president for “spiking the football” on the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death, the conservative group Veterans for a Strong America plans to gather Navy SEALs and Special Forces operators to criticize the White House during the 2012 campaign.

“We’re looking to [put together] a coalition, to field SEALs and operators that want to come out publicly,” executive director of Veterans for a Strong America, Joel Arends, tells BuzzFeed. “I’ve had a lot of discussions with former SEALs and current SEALs. I’ve been talking to operators in the community. There is palatable discontent.”

Arends released his first major ad attacking the White House on May 1, titled “Why Does President Obama Take So Much Credit for Killing Bin Laden?”

The video, which took about ten days to produce, went viral. The ad has had more than 250,000 views on YouTube and he’s received some 4,000 emails.

Presidents earn credit and blame for the events that happen on their watch. But the question of why Obama took “so much” credit for putting two in the head of OBL is valid. They had to drag him off the golf course, for goodness sake; it’s not like he was reenacting some scene out of Platoon or Apocalypse Now, stripped to his waist, camouflaged, wearing night-vision goggles.

Will Fonzie successfully jump the shark? Find out after these messages.

If they had just let the anniversary happen, without the disquieting preening and posing, the credit would have accrued to them in justifiable measure. Now, there’s this sense of almost desperate politicization over every act and utterance of this administration. If I were Romney, I’d take stock. This is not the behavior of a confident administration.

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Red-Blooded Saudi Male

Take a number, Osama. Line forms to the right:

Like all beautiful, successful women Whitney Houston had more than her share of male admirers.

But few stars could have provoked such unwanted attention as that which the singer received from one of history’s most depraved and despicable men, terror chief Osama bin Laden.

Extraordinary as it might seem, bin Laden is said to have lusted after Houston, dreamed of marrying her and at one point even plotted to murder her husband Bobby Brown.

[H]oled-up in his Moroccan compound he had different things on his mind, namely sex, smoking cannabis and dancing to western pop groups like the B52s and Van Halen.
Miss Boof, who claims she was kept as a ‘sex slave’ by bin Laden, said he thought the singer was ‘the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen’ and that he was desperate to marry her.

In an autobiography released in 2006, Boof claims bin Laden plotted to have Bobby Brown murdered before wooing Houston by giving her a mansion he owned in the suburbs of Khartoum.

And according to the her account, the strongly racist bin Laden puffed on cannabis before announcing he would be willing to ‘break his colour rule’ and make Houston one of his wives.

What girl could turn down a mansion in the swanky suburbs of Khartoum?

This sounds vaguely familiar—I think we might have covered it before.

Wow, we did! (We’ve been at this too long.)

If it came out that I danced to the B52s, I’d beg Seal Team 6 to put me out of my misery.

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Bin Laden Down, With a Shmear

Oh wait, we already did that.

Naming a product after the world’s most notorious terrorist may not seem like a surefire route to commercial success.

For bakers in the Malawian city of Blantyre, however, this marketing ploy is helping to reel in customers while ensuring that their produce has an unmistakeable identity.

“We make bin Laden buns,” said Mahomed Hanif Valimamade, co-owner of a patisserie within the city named the Portuguese Bakery.

The standard bread rolls — which are not exclusive to any one company and are produced by a variety of outlets in Blantyre — were initially given their unconventional moniker by customers who likened their appearance to similar bread made in the Middle East, says Valimamade.

The tag quickly caught on, and when businesses realized how their products were being identified, they began to label them as such, to great effect.

On a good day, Valimamade claims, small bakeries like his own can sell as many as 2,000 “bin Ladens,” adding that a large part of what makes them stand out is their attention-grabbing title.

Gives new meaning to a BLT (Bin Laden Toast), doesn’t it?

In diner lingo, a hamburger with lettuce, onion, and tomato is “Burn one, take it through the garden and pin a rose on it”. Which sounds like the death and funeral of Osama.


If You Knew Osama Like I Knew Osama

Oh, oh, oh what a guy:

In a new video, al Qaeda’s new leader invites viewers to take a moment to remember the “delicate”, “human side” of Osama bin Laden, the terror leader who gleefully claimed responsibility for the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al Qaeda deputy who slipped into the top spot at al Qaeda after bin Laden was taken out by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs in May, claims in the recently released video that he has been asked by “his brethren” to talk about his time with bin Laden and “shed light on the human side of Osama bin Laden — his noble, refined side.”

“People probably don’t know, they remember the lion of Islam threatening America and [former President George W.] Bush, but people don’t know that he was a very delicate, nice, shy man,” Zawahiri says in the video, which also features a dramatic musical score and a photo-montage of bin Laden. “No one has ever met him with him, friend or foe, and not spoken of his nobility and his modesty.”

The human side of Osama? They won’t even let us see the inside of Osama—release the death photos!

BTW, former SEAL, Chuck Pfarrer, has written the definitive account of the operation to prove just how “delicate” Osama was. You know it’s definitive because the Administration has denounced it as patently false.

You can hear an interview with Pfarrer here.

Howie Carr asks Pfarrer why the Obama administration would denounce him and persist with their lies, if the mission was so successful. As I understood his answer, they were so embarrassed by their multiple, conflicting stories, their ruin of the surprise (and a potential intelligence bonanza) by their premature cowing, they have to denounce this book for telling a version different from their own, even if it’s the real one. Especially if.

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Obama bin Lyin’

Remember this picture?

Everything about it was a lie:

OSAMA BIN LADEN was killed within 90 seconds of the US Navy Seals landing in his compound and not after a protracted gun battle, according to the first account by the men who carried out the raid. The operation was so clinical that only 12 bullets were fired.

The Seals have spoken out because they were angered at the version given by politicians, which they see as portraying them as cold-blooded murderers on a “kill mission”. They were also shocked that President Barack Obama announced bin Laden’s death on television the same evening, rendering useless much of the intelligence they had seized.

The Seals’ own accounts differ from the White House version, which gave the impression that bin Laden was killed at the end of the operation rather than in its opening seconds. Pfarrer insists bin Laden would have been captured had he surrendered.

“There isn’t a politician in the world who could resist trying to take credit for getting bin Laden but it devalued the ‘intel’ and gave time for every other al-Qa’ida leader to scurry to another bolthole,” said Pfarrer. “The men who did this and their valorous act deserve better. It’s a pretty shabby way to treat these guys.”

There was no fire-fight, no nothing—unless you consider Osama throwing wives at the SEALs a form of combat:

The first person the Seals encountered was a terrified woman, bin Laden’s third wife, Khaira, who ran into the hall. Blinded by a searing white strobe light they shone at her, she stumbled back. A Seal grabbed her by the arm and threw her to the floor.

Bin Laden’s bedroom was along a short hall. The door opened; he popped out and then slammed the door shut. “Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo,” radioed one Seal, meaning “eyes on target”.

At the same time lights came on from the floor below and bin Laden’s son Khalid came running up the stairs towards the Seals. He was shot dead.

Two Seals kicked in bin Laden’s door. The room, they later recalled, “smelt like old clothing, like a guest bedroom in a grandmother’s house”. Inside was the al-Qa’ida leader and his youngest wife, Amal, who was screaming as he pushed her in front of him.

“No, no, don’t do this!” she shouted as her husband reached across the king-size bed for his AK-47 assault rifle. The Seals reacted instantly, firing in the same second. One round thudded into the mattress. The other, aimed at bin Laden’s head, grazed Amal in the calf. As his hand reached for the gun, they each fired again: one shot hit his breastbone, the other his skull, killing him instantly and blowing out the back of his head.

And we don’t even get to see the picture? Damn!

But if you think the White House was watching this in real time, you couldn’t be more wrong:

Five minutes into the operation the command Chinook landed outside the compound, disgorging the commanding officer and more men. They blasted through the compound wall and rushed in.

The commander made his way to the third floor, where bin Laden’s body lay on the floor face up. Photographs were taken, and the commander called on his satellite phone to headquarters with the words: “Geronimo Echo KIA” – bin Laden enemy killed in action.

“This was the first time the White House knew he was dead and it was probably 20 minutes into the raid,” said Pfarrer.

The following morning White House officials announced that the helicopter had crashed as it arrived, forcing the Seals to abandon plans to enter from the roof. A photograph of the situation room showed a shocked Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, with her hand to her mouth.

Why did they get it so wrong?

“They don’t understand our terminology, so when someone said the ‘insertion helicopter’ has crashed, they assumed it meant on entry,” said Pfarrer.

What infuriated the Seals, according to Pfarrer, was the description of the raid as a kill mission. “I’ve been a Seal for 30 years and I never heard the words ‘kill mission’,” he said. “It’s a Beltway (Washington insider’s) fantasy word. If it was a kill mission you don’t need Seal Team 6; you need a box of hand grenades.”

But a compliant media that doubted the veracity of a Thanksgiving turkey carried by President Bush totally accepts the gruel ladled out by President Obama.

Under that international war criminal, George Bush, Saddam Hussein was captured, tried, and executed according to the legal system in place at the time. Under Barack RambObama, Osama was capped in the head in the sovereign territory of a supposed ally. I salute both outcomes and both presidents.

But the media could try to get a straight story out Obama once in a while, couldn’t they? For variety?


Dead Man Talking

Shut the [bleep] up, dude—you dead!

The way you look tonight…

A day after Americans observed the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks by al Qaeda, a new video featuring the terror group’s now-deceased leader surfaced in which Osama bin Laden warns the American people not of coming attacks, but of the dangers of capitalism and the military-industrial complex.

Appearing thin and with a very black beard, bin Laden says major corporations — the “undeclared kings” of America — ignite wars on purpose for profit and wield the power over elected officials.

Wait, was this an Osama video or an Obama video?

I’ve never made that mistake before, but now I can’t tell the difference.

“And it seems that the path to stop the hegemony of capitalism is to carry out a real radical change that will help you liberate — not to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein — but to liberate the White House so that Barack Hussein will be liberated and with him, everyone else from the hegemony of these corporations.,” he says in the approximately six-minute address. “Peace be upon those who head the advice.”

Bin Laden also urges Americans to read “Obama Wars” by the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, who bin Laden said, “urged Obama to be more honest with you and let you know that he is under pressure to continue the war and to support the Israelis, not to further America’s interests but to further their interests.”

Poor Osama, forgotten but not gone. Some people know enough to stay dead.

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Osama’s Children

Nothing makes me feel warmer inside than the thought of worms inside Osama bin Laden. But in the greater war on terror, his death is a blip. That should be plenty clear, especially given the dire warnings of the last day or so.

But Osama’s irrelevance, beyond mere symbolism, has been clear for a long time now to anybody paying attention.

The police have to factor terrorism into “everything we do,” Mr. Kelly said. If that means following leads that take NYPD undercover detectives into mosques, Islamic bookstores, Muslim student associations, cafes and nightclubs, so be it. Mr. Kelly vowed to continue stationing liaisons in 11 cities abroad to “ask the New York question”—much to the occasional chagrin of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the CIA.

It was an undercover officer in an Islamic bookstore who helped stop Shahawar Matin Siraj, a homegrown Muslim extremist and self-professed al Qaeda admirer, from bombing the Herald Square subway station during the 2004 Republican convention, Mr. Kelly said. Another undercover officer prevented homegrown terrorists Ahmed Ferhani, 26, and Mohamed Mamdouh, 20, from bombing a Manhattan synagogue and trying to “take out the entire building.”

Would he continue sending NYPD officers across the Hudson into deepest, darkest New Jersey? Yes, he declared, if that was what was needed to keep tabs on the likes of Carlos Almonte and Mohammed Alessa—al Qaeda sympathizers arrested en route to Somalia at JFK Airport in 2010 “who were determined to receive terrorist training abroad only to return home to kill us here.”

Michael Sheehan, a former NYPD deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, says that the NYPD has succeeded thanks to its collection and sharing of domestic and foreign intelligence through “humint” (human sources) and “sigint” (signals intelligence) such as electronic intercepts and the monitoring of Internet, cellphone and other communications. Tip-offs from concerned family or community members have also been vital.

Sigint was key in disrupting at least two of the most serious al Qaeda plots targeting New York since 9/11: the 2006 “Liquid Bomb Plot,” or “Operation Overt,” in which 25 British citizens of Pakistani descent targeted some seven transatlantic commercial flights from London to North America; and Operation Highrise, an attempt to use suicide bombers to blow up New York City subways in 2009.

The homegrown Islamist in that plot was Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan immigrant with al Qaeda ties who grew up in New York City and staged his operation from there and Colorado. In Zazi’s case, investigators say, officials were initially tipped off by the intercept of an email he sent from Colorado to an address in Pakistan that was associated with another group of terrorists who had been arrested earlier that year in Manchester, England.

The “link man,” or coordinator in Pakistan, writes Mitchell D. Silber, director of Intelligence Analysis for the New York Police Department, in his forthcoming book, “The Al Qaeda Factor,” was corresponding with operatives in three different al Qaeda plots. Zazi’s New York subway plot took off only after he contacted the coordinator, identified only as “Ahmad,” and informed him that the “wedding,” or suicide operation, “was ready to proceed,” writes Mr. Silber.

Another serious plot that was disrupted thanks to Internet intercepts was a 2006 scheme by Assem Hammoud, a 31-year-old Lebanese al Qaeda member, and several other still unnamed Islamists—all overseas—to flood Lower Manhattan by setting off explosives in the PATH railway tunnels under the Hudson River. While no arrests in America were made, several suspects have been detained in Lebanon and other Arab states.

Mr. Silber argues that humint has proven even more valuable than sigint in detecting and thwarting homegrown threats—the fastest-growing category of militant Islamist terror. This explains Mr. Kelly’s determination to preserve the NYPD’s vast intelligence capabilities, even if he’s forced to scale back elsewhere in the department due to budget cuts.

With Osama bin Laden dead and al Qaeda under pressure, some terrorism experts argue, as does Peter Bergen, author of the book “The Longest War,” that al Qaeda, or at least its “core,” “no longer poses a national security threat” to America “that could result in a mass-casualty attack anywhere close to the scale of 9/11.”

Mr. Kelly isn’t buying it. He’s fixated on the recent jump in homegrown extremist plots throughout the country—to 10 in 2009 and 12 in 2010 from four in 2007 and just one in 2005.

Many of us have wondered, though few have had the nerve to speak of it, when Al Qaeda would scale down its ambitions from 9/11-style fireballs to smaller-scale, but equally terrifying attacks. Obviously, they already have.

The idea that Al Qaeda has been emasculated into some sort of harem eunuch is absurd. Al Qaeda doesn’t need an HQ or a CEO if it has branch offices in bookstores, mosques, and taxi companies across the world. Ideologies and the Internet were made for each other, the former being spread by the latter without hindrance or counter argument.

We are indeed fighting “The Longest War”, but do we understand that? Do we have enough faith in our society to defend it indefinitely? Now that George Bush is well-removed from the picture, now that Obama’s flattering speeches to the world’s Muslims have fallen on deaf ears, his embrace of the Arab Spring rebuffed by the hardline Islamists who have sprung up in its vernal warmth—do liberals or Americans in general understand that the question isn’t “Why do they hate us?”, or even “Why do they hate?”—but “Do they hate?”

The answer to that one is simple, and our response clear.

PS: From another WSJ piece this morning:

One exchange sticks in Mr. Mukasey’s mind for what is says about both the terrorists’ mindset and America’s vulnerability. The informant and one of the defendants were walking along a New York street “looking for a piece of electronics that they could use as a detonator. The [defendant] starts to talk about, ‘Look at this society—how open it is. You can get anything here. You can get these electronics, you can get’—he segues from that to Playboy magazine and pornography and the whole span of things that are available in an open society. It was a combination of awe and contempt—awe at the openness and contempt at the notion that people could do anything they wanted. . . . The bottom line is we were ripe for plucking because of all of this.”

You’ll pry that Playboy out of my cold, dead hands.

PPS: From later in that same piece:

Judiciary Committee Democrats, led by Chairman Patrick Leahy (and again including Mr. Schumer), demanded that he deliver a legal opinion he was not qualified to render. At issue was the CIA’s program that subjected high-value detainees to “enhanced interrogation,” a designation Mr. Mukasey calls “probably the worst marketing since new Coke.”

“Not having seen, and not being cleared to see, the CIA program, I was asked to pronounce that waterboarding, in the abstract . . . was torture,” Mr. Mukasey recalls. He refused. “In retrospect, I’m very glad I did that, because then I read about the program, and it didn’t violate the torture statute. . . . The torture statute defines torture as acting under color of law so as to cause severe physical or mental pain or suffering, and severe mental pain or suffering is defined in durational terms.” Waterboarding “didn’t produce physical pain . . . and there were no lasting psychological effects,” so it was permissible under the law.

By the time Mr. Mukasey took office, the question was moot anyway. He learned that the Bush administration had suspended enhanced interrogation. The Obama administration went further, barring the CIA from interrogating terrorists altogether. “The current interrogation regime is limited to the Army Field Manual,” which, Mr. Mukasey notes, “has been available on the Internet for years and is used as a training device by terrorists.”

Exactly. Al Qaeda doesn’t issue a magnifying glass or a decoder ring to anyone who can’t withstand Army Field Manuel interrogation tactics while reciting the Koran backward in pig latin. And we use waterboarding as training on our own operatives.

Thanks, O, for keeping us safe.

PPPS: Yet more:

A vigorous critic of the Obama administration, he is not impressed when I point out that except for interrogation, Mr. Obama has ended up largely continuing his predecessor’s antiterror policies.

“Where they were coming from was articulated during the campaign, which was they felt that we had overstepped,” he says, noting that “the first thing [President Obama] did was sign an order closing Guantanamo. . . . They’ve done as much as they think they have to do, but . . . their instincts, I don’t think, are in it.”

“Look at the paper that the president issued back in August on dealing with terrorism—’community cooperation’ or something of that sort. It’s meant to sound like harmless pap. It isn’t, really. It suggests that the thing we have to worry about most in the United States is a backlash against Muslims.”

He does have a few points of agreement with the administration. He praises the use of drone strikes against terrorists, and he thinks the appointments of Mr. Panetta at the Pentagon and Gen. David Petraeus as CIA director will enhance cooperation between the military and the intelligence community. And, of course, “the most commendable thing [Mr. Obama] did—the gutsiest thing he did—was the killing of bin Laden. He didn’t do it with a drone strike, he did it in a way that would allow exploiting whatever intelligence we could find and in a way that . . . we could be sure that we got him, and that it was him that we got.”

But that leads to a caveat: “It was a mistake to disclose that we had found a trove of information. We could have done without disclosing that, because obviously the people who dealt with [bin Laden] directly . . . I’ve got to believe that some of them changed their daily habits.” It’s reminiscent of the release of that list of co-conspirators back in the 1990s, except that this time it was an unforced error.

So was the ’08 election.


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