Archive for War on Terror

On the War* With the Islamic** State***

*It’s not a war.

**It’s not Islamic.

***It’s not a state.

So, what is “it”, and what are we “doing” about it? Hey, we just told you what it’s not—why can’t that be enough? Next you’ll want the recipe to Michelle’s kale cupcakes.

Some in the Obama administration run from the w-word like the French fun from w itself (cheap shot). Others therein wrap themselves in the battle colors like a latter day Barbara Fritchie. But this is the same administration that blamed the Benghazi atrocity on a YouTube video—and then successfully dodged responsibility for doing so (for a time).

Speaking of Benghazi, remember that Libya was no war either.

Remember what it was?

It’s not a war, the White House says.

Instead, Libya is “a time-limited, scope-limited military action, in concert with our international partners, with the objective of protecting civilian life in Libya from Moammar Gadhafi and his forces,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Pressed on the point by reporters, Carney said, “I’m not going to get into the terminology,” but Libya is not an “open-ended military action, the kind of which might otherwise be described as a war.”

“There’s no ground troops, as the president said,” Carney said. “There’s no land invasion.”

“A time-limited, scope-limited military action”: wonder why they didn’t bring back that gem from 18 months ago? Look at what it did for Libya. Oh wait…

Libya Closer To Failed-State Status, Ushering In Possible ISIS, Jihadist Haven

Well, that was from yesterday. Maybe things are better now.

So, our “strategy” against a non-Islamic non-state is to conduct a non-war, which is, rather, a non-Iraq, non-Afghanistan, quasi-Libyan-cum-Yemen “very significant counter-terrorism operation [that’s] going to go on for some period of time.”

Got it?

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He Said It, Not Me

James Foley could not be reached for comment:

It’s too soon to say what steps the United States will take against ISIS in Syria, President Barack Obama said Thursday.

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Obama told reporters during a White House news briefing. “We don’t have a strategy yet.”

ISIS? What’s that?

The Islamic State group has a long history of expanding its power and preying on the weaknesses of its regional rivals, according to a new report that challenges the notion that the militant organization has only recently emerged as a threat.

Despite some assertions that the group only achieved prominence in June 2014 — about the time it began sweeping across Iraq in a violent offensive — the militants have steadily been gaining power in the region since 2010, the report by the West Point counterterrorism center concludes.

Over those four years, the report says the Islamic State patiently prepared operations that managed to dissolve some of Iraq’s security forces by targeting and demolishing the homes of its soldiers or, in some cases, assassinating troops.

Warning signs that the Islamic State was becoming increasingly dangerous became evident after leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “rebooted” the organization in 2010, the report notes. As a result, the Islamic State has been able to develop a highly motivated infantry force since 2012, enabling its members to launch a wave of 20 multicity synchronized car bomb attacks that lasted until the end of 2013, the report states.

Can ya hurry it up with the strategy there, Mr. Prez?

President Obama will be in New York this weekend to attend the wedding of his personal chef and an MSNBC host.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama will be in attendance on Saturday when chef Sam Kass and journalist Alex Wagner tie the knot at the Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, Politico reported.

Kass is the personal chef of the First Family and also the executive director of Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move,’ which aims to change eating and exercising habits among Americans. Wagner hosts the weekday MSNBC program ‘Now with Alex Wagner.’

They’ve has been described by Vogue as politics’ ‘It’ couple of the year.

Is that supposed to be some crack about Chef Kass’s chrome dome?

Go ahead and take the weekend off, sir. You’ve been working nonstop lately.

It will be a busy weekend for the Obamas.

On Friday, the president is expected at two fundraisers in Westchester and a third one in Rhode Island.

On Sunday, the Obamas will attend the US Open before heading out, according to Talk of the Sound, which first broke the news of the president’s visit to Westchester.

Oh, by the way. Remember that curious, unexplained trip back to the mainland that Obama took in the middle of his Vineyard vacation—at an additional cost of more than a million dollars when Air Force and Marine Ones are accounted for, along with the motorcade and other security protocols?

Can you say “bachelor party?”

Speculation for why Obama returned focused around the possibility of a secret foreign leader meeting or the rollout of a new administration initiative on immigration or corporate taxes.

But no such explanation materialized.

The most unusual deviation from a normal day at the White House was Obama’s dinner Monday night at Sam Kass’s home. The president, joined by deputy chief of staff Anita Breckenridge, spent nearly five hours at the White House chef’s Dupont Circle duplex apartment.

It’s possible that the party may have been a celebration of Kass’s impending nuptials to MSNBC host Alex Wagner. The couple announced their engagement last September. But the White House provided no details of the meal.

There better not have been cupcakes for dessert. Michelle would have been waiting by the door with a rolling pin.

In summary, while ISIS has been getting the caliphate band back together, Obama and his Merry Men (and underpaid women) have been gamboling in the sand and sea, downing lobster tails and vinagrette-d arugula, partying like Kennedys (though not driving like them), and generally behaving about as unseriously as a person could behave in the face of chaos and perfected evil.

No wonder “we don’t have a strategy yet.”

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Rats Joining the Sinking Ship

What others see as a worry or a concern, BTL sees as an opportunity:

U.S. spy agencies have begun to see groups of fighters abandoning al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Africa to join the rival Islamist organization that has seized territory in Iraq and Syria and been targeted in American airstrikes, U.S. officials said.

The movements are seen by U.S. ­counterterrorism analysts as a worrisome indication of the expanding appeal of a group known as the Islamic State that has overwhelmed military forces in the region and may now see itself in direct conflict with the United States.

“Small groups from a number of al-Qaeda affiliates have defected to ISIS,” as the group is also known, said a U.S. official with access to classified intelligence assessments. “And this problem will probably become more acute as ISIS continues to rack up victories.”

Now that President Obama has woken up to the reality of slaughtered Christians, starving Yazidis, and depraved, subhuman savages in ISIS, this just makes our job easier. It may be hard to pick off Al Qaeda pockets here, there, and everywhere. But if the terrorists want to hop into the pool of blood that is Iraq, I say come on in the water’s fine. Just drop bigger bombs.

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More Mush From the Wimp

Boy, if that isn’t a standing headline:

President Barack Obama acknowledged Friday that the United States “crossed a line” and tortured al Qaeda detainees after the 9/11 terror attacks.

The comments at a White House news conference were the President’s strongest on the controversial subject since he came into office denouncing what he described as the Bush years of torturing alleged terrorists, also known as “enhanced interrogation.”

“When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line,” Obama said. “And that needs to be … understood and accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that hopefully we don’t do it again in the future.”

Well, this fair-minded person doesn’t believe water-boarding or sleep deprivation constitute torture. I don’t think any training method we use on our own special ops trainees constitutes torture. We can disdain them, we can elect not to use them, but shame on he who demagogues over them:

“After I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report,” Obama said Friday. “And my hope is that this report reminds us once again that, you know, the character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy, but what we do when things are hard.”

In April 2009, Obama reiterated his position that waterboarding amounted to torture and “violates our ideals and our values.”

I’ve already stated my position. KSM ought to have been waterboarded. I’m proud that we did so. I’m not privy to the intelligence we gained, but I expect we got plenty. And that lives were saved because of it. That doesn’t violate my ideals or values in the least. And KSM is still alive and kicking.

PS: We all know Obama’s preferred expression of our ideals and values: summary execution by Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone.

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What Do Americans Know That Their Leaders Don’t Know?

Plenty:

Fifty-nine percent (59%) believe there is a global conflict between the Muslim world and Western civilization. Seventeen percent (17%) disagree, but 24% are not sure. These findings are consistent with earlier surveying.

Count me, and any sentient being, among the 59%. If you asked that question in the Muslim world I’m certain the percentage who agreed would be even higher. In any continent not covered with an ice sheet there is a significant, often bloody, conflict between the Muslim world and Western civilization (dare I write just civilization).

Among our other insights:

Many hoped that the “Arab Spring” protests that began three years ago would lead to a new era of democracy in a number of Islamic countries, but U.S. voters now see that as increasingly unlikely and think the changes there have been bad for America.

[J]ust 27% of Likely U.S. Voters now believe the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror. That’s down eight points from 35% in April and 47% a year ago.

[J]ust 44% now think the United States is too involved in the Middle East, down from 54% last October. Twenty-one percent (21%) say we are not involved enough in that region, an 11-point jump from 10% in the last survey.

Considering what counts for “involvement” with the Obama regime, I’m afraid I can’t agree with my countrymen. Butt out of Israeli affairs. Let them win.

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Arab EMTs

When the going gets tough, the terrorists scatter like so many cockroaches:

But as pathetically humorous as it is to watch the little Arab rats scurry and hide, it’s nowhere near as pathetically humorous as watching the little Arab rats play-acting:

Hee-hee. Pallywood really ought to sell tickets for these comic shorts. They’re blockbuster.

There are a few among the dead whose deaths I’m sure I regret. A few. But if Hamass fires off missiles and mortars from behind the skirts of Arab grannies, Israel not only can fire back, it must. Chalk up all deaths to Hamass.

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Feel Safer?

Your National Security Adviser:

Lesley Stahl: But when you have so many phone records being held, emails, heads of state’s phone conversations being listened in to, has it been worth our allies being upset? Has it been worth all the tech companies being upset? Has it been worth Americans feeling that their privacy has been invaded?

Susan Rice: Lesley, it’s been worth what we’ve done to protect the United States. And the fact that we have not had a successful attack on our homeland since 9/11 should not be diminished. But that does not mean that everything we’re doing as of the present ought to be done the same way in the future.

As NRO’s Jim Geraghty puts it: Ahem.

I would also note that any nation’s diplomatic property is sovereign to that nation. The terrorist lynching of Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, and Chris Stevens IS a terrorist attack on our homeland.

But then, what would she know about that?

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If You Like Your Bride, You Can Keep Your…

Oops:

A U.S. drone mistakenly targeted a wedding convoy in Yemen’s al-Baitha province after intelligence reports identified the vehicles as carrying al Qaeda militants, two Yemeni national security officials told CNN on Thursday.

The officials said that 14 people were killed and 22 others injured, nine in critical condition. The vehicles were traveling near the town of Radda when they were attacked.

“This was a tragic mistake and comes at a very critical time. None of the killed was a wanted suspect by the Yemeni government,” said a top Yemeni national security official who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to talk to media.

U.S. officials declined to comment on the report.

What are you going to say? Best wishes? Many happy returns?

Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is just another desperate attempt to keep Obamacare off the front pages. (If Mandela had to go, what’s another dozen Yemenis?)

PS: Can you blame Obama for wanting to play with his cool toys?

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The drone, or unmanned aerial system, was launched from a torpedo tube on the USS Providence, the Navy said in a news release.

The drone itself was inside a launch vehicle called the Sea Robin that fit inside the torpedo tube.

Once launched, the Sea Robin made its way to the ocean surface and, upon command, the drone itself launched from there, the Navy said.

The drone, powered with electric fuel cells, then flew for hours, streaming live video back to Navy officials.

Awesome. You might want to reconsider any oceanfront wedding plans.

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First They Came for the Post-Partum Depressed Mom

And Mark Steyn spoke out:

[A]n unarmed woman was gunned down on the streets of Washington for no apparent crime other than driving too near Barackingham Palace and thereby posing a threat to national security. As disturbing as Miriam Carey’s bullet-riddled body and vehicle were, the public indifference to it is even worse. Ms. Carey does not appear to be guilty of any act other than a panic attack when the heavy-handed and heavier-armed palace guard began yelling at her. Much of what was reported in the hours after her death seems dubious: We are told Ms. Carey was “mentally ill,” although she had no medications in her vehicle and those at her home back in Connecticut are sufficiently routine as to put millions of other Americans in the category of legitimate target. We are assured that she suffered from post-partum depression, as if the inability to distinguish between a depressed mom and a suicide bomber testifies to the officers’ professionalism. Under D.C. police rules, cops are not permitted to fire on a moving vehicle, because of the risk to pedestrians and other drivers. But the Secret Service and the Capitol Police enjoy no such restraints, so the car doors are full of bullet holes. The final moments of the encounter remain a mystery, but police were supposedly able to extract Ms. Carey’s baby from the back of a two-door vehicle before dispatching the defenseless mother to meet her maker.

Did I mention she was African American? When a black teen dies in a late-night one-on-one encounter with a fellow citizen on the streets of Sanford, Fla., it’s the biggest thing since Selma. But when a defenseless black woman is gunned down by a posse of robocops in broad daylight on the streets of the capital, the Reverend Jackson and the Reverend Sharpton and all the other bouffed and pampered grievance-mongers are apparently cool with it.

This isn’t very difficult. When you need large numbers of supposedly highly trained elite officers to kill an unarmed woman with a baby, you’re doing it wrong. In perhaps the most repugnant reaction to Ms. Carey’s death, the United States Congress expressed their “gratitude” to the officers who killed her and gave them a standing ovation.

This was a repulsive act by Congress.

Miriam Carey is already forgotten, and the lawyer her family hired has now, conveniently, been jailed for a bad debt. I am not one for cheap historical analogies: My mother spent four of her childhood years under Nazi occupation, and it is insulting to her and millions of others who know the real thing to bandy overheated comparisons. But there is a despotic trend in American government. Too many of our rulers and their enforcers reflexively see the citizenry primarily as a threat. Which is why the tautness of one’s buns is now probable cause, and why in Congress the so-called people’s representatives’ first instinct is to stand and cheer the death of a defenseless woman.

Worship him as I do, Mark Steyn glosses over a few important points. The late Ms. Carey did have a documented history of erratic behavior—if not outright loopiness (yes, loopiness—look it up in the DSM). She did try to drive her car onto White House grounds, and she did knock over a Secret Service agent while trying to get away.

The chain-of-events began when the woman sped onto a driveway leading to the White House, over a set of barricades. When the driver couldn’t get through a second barrier, she spun the car in the opposite direction, flipping a Secret Service officer over the hood of the car as she sped away, said B.J. Campbell, a tourist from Portland, Ore.

“This wasn’t no accident. She was not a lost tourist,” Campbell said later near the scene that had been blocked off with police tape.

Then the chase began.

“The car was trying to get away. But it was going over the median and over the curb,” said Matthew Coursen, who was watching from a cab window when the Infiniti sped by him. “The car got boxed in and that’s when I saw an officer of some kind draw his weapon and fire shots into the car.”

And yet, the story may not be so cut and dry. Before the lawyer was jailed:

Besides, I remember another time Mark Steyn held his applause at the gunning down of another “terrorist”:

Mark Steyn 12:01AM BST 26 Jul 2005

[W]e turn to Jean Charles de Menezes, the supposed “suicide bomber” who turned out to be a Brazilian electrician on his way to work. Unfortunately, by the time the Metropolitan Police figured that out, they’d put five bullets in his head. We’re told we shouldn’t second-guess split-second decisions that have to be made under great stress by those on the scene, which would be a more persuasive argument if the British constabulary didn’t spend so much time doing exactly that to homeowners who make the mistake of defending themselves against violent criminals. And, if summary extrajudicial execution was so urgent, why did the surveillance team let him take a bus ride before eventually cornering him in the Tube?

[F]ew of us had an inkling of the Met’s new “shoot to kill” policy until they shot and killed Mr de Menezes. And although I’ve had a ton of e-mails pointing out various sinister aspects of his behaviour – he was wearing a heavy coat! he refused to stop! – it seems to me there are an awful lot of people on the Tube who might easily find themselves in Mr de Menezes’s position.

I happened to be passing through London on Friday. It didn’t feel terribly warm, but I spend half a year up to my neck in snow so when it climbs to a balmy 48 I start wearing T-shirts. But I can understand why a Brazilian might find 61 and overcast no reason to eschew a heavy jacket. So a man in a suspiciously warm coat refuses to stop for the police. Well, they were a plain-clothes unit – ie, a gang – and confronted by unidentified men brandishing weapons in south London I’d scram, too.

Mr de Menezes is forgotten; Miriam Carey is on her way to join him in oblivion eight years later. Their behaviors aroused suspicion, and in tense times (Tube bombings and Navy Yard shootings) their unnecessary deaths were “collateral damage” in the war on terror. There’s a fair amount of that going around—if I were a Waziristan grandmother, I’d leave the fu**ing okra to rot on the vine, or however it grows.

It is what it is, the sports cliche goes. But we don’t have to like it. We don’t have to excuse it. And shame on us, forever, if we choose to forget it.

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Good Self-Awarenss

In a related story [see post below]:

This will not go over well for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
According to the new book “Double Down,” in which journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann chronicle the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama told his aides that he’s “really good at killing people” while discussing drone strikes.

Peter Hamby of The Washington Post reported the moment in his review of the book.

The claim by the commander-in-chief is as indisputable as it is grim.

Obama oversaw the 2009 surge in Afghanistan, 145 Predator drone strikes in NATO’s 2011 Libya operations, the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and drone strikes that killed the Pakistani Taliban leader and a senior member of the Somali-based militant group al-Shabab this week.

His administration also expanded the drone war: There have been 326 drone strikes in Pakistan, 93 in Yemen, and several in Somalia, compared to a total of 52 under George Bush.

Furthermore, the disturbing trend of the “double tap” — bombing the same place in quick succession and often hitting first responders — has become common practice.

Needless to say, a lot of innocent people have been killed along with combatants.

I didn’t know about the “double tap”, did you? But it’s true:

Late in the evening on 6 June this year an unmanned drone was flying high above the Pakistani village of Datta Khel in north Waziristan.

As the drone circled it let off the first of its Hellfire missiles, slamming into a small house and reducing it to rubble. When residents rushed to the scene of the attack to see if they could help they were struck again.

According to reports at the time, three local rescuers were killed by a second missile whilst a further strike killed another three people five minutes later. In all, somewhere between 17 and 24 people are thought to have been killed in the attack.

BOO-YAH!

He sure is good at killing people! But everyone’s a critic these days:

“These strikes are becoming much more common,” Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who represents victims of drone strikes, told The Independent. “In the past it used to be a one-off, every now and then. Now almost every other attack is a double tap. There is no justification for it.”

By the way, these are the same reporters who wrote Game Change, about the 2008 election. I can’t wait to see the HBO movie of this new book, in which Morgan Freeman (have you seen Obama’s gray hair?) plays the great man boasting what a bad ass he is. Date night.

PS: If this is true, our president is a sick [bleep].

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Why We Blow Up Grandmas

With sympathy and respect to the Waziristan family who traveled to Washington to testify how an American drone wasted grandma when they went out to pick okra (as we reported), this is why:

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The U.S. ambassador to Islamabad was summoned to Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday, a day after Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed by a U.S. drone strike.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry did not explain why the envoy was summoned. A U.S. State Department official confirmed the meeting to CNN but would not disclose details about it.

The State Department official would not discuss U.S. operations in Pakistan but stressed the Pakistan Taliban’s 2009 attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan and claims of responsibility for a failed attempt to bomb Times Square in New York.

Mehsud, who had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head for his alleged involvement in the 2009 attack , was killed in a drone strike in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, senior U.S. and Pakistani officials told CNN.

He was buried overnight, though the body was burned beyond recognition, Taliban sources said. The organization was scheduled to meet Saturday to pick a new leader, the sources said.

Saleem Mehsud, a journalist who is close to the Mehsuds and familiar with the Pakistan Taliban, told CNN on Saturday that the central shura, or council, of the Pakistan Taliban has approved Sheheryar Mehsud as its new chief.

Sheheryar Mehsud is from the Jangara area of South Waziristan and belongs to the Shabikheil sub-tribe within the larger Mehsud tribe, he said. That’s the same sub-tribe that Baitullah Mehsud, who led the Pakistan Taliban before Hakimullah Mehsud, belonged to.

I think I see their problem. (Have you seen Deliverance?) Their gene pool is more like a puddle.

Still, the family might have a point. There’s no shortage of Mehsuds to take over the Pakistani Taliban; but they had only one grandma. Nailing a terrorist leader isn’t going to put okra on their table.

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Another Thing Obama Doesn’t Know?

We’re vaporizing Pakistani grandmas—is that what President Obama means by American exceptionalism?

Nine-year-old Nabila Rehman rested her head on the table.

Nabila, a shy girl with startling hazel eyes and red streaks in her dark hair, along with her father Rafiq and 13-year-old brother Zubair, have told the story of the day when a drone fell from the sky in their village in North Waziristan so many times. By Tuesday morning the tale was rote — even if this particular retelling was before U.S. lawmakers, at a briefing which was the first opportunity for members of Congress to hear directly from Pakistani victims of American drones.

It was October 24, 2012, the day before the Islamic holy day of Eid-al-Adha in North Waziristan. Zubair, Nabila, their little sister, five-year-old Asma, and some of their cousins were all in the fields beside their house as their grandmother, 67-year-old Momina Bibi, showed them how to tell when the okra was ripe for picking.

Zubair knew the drones were circling overhead; he has known their distinctive buzzing since he was even younger — a methodical zung, zung, zung, he says.

“It’s something that even a 2-year-old would know,” he said in Pashto, speaking to Al Jazeera through a translator. “We hear the noise 24 hours a day.”

Before the missile hit, he remembers hearing two clicks, like a trigger being pulled. Suddenly, day seemed to turn to night as they were enveloped in darkness and heat. Their grandmother, Momina Bibi, was thrown 20 feet away and killed instantly.

Zubair, Nabila and the other children wounded in the attack were taken to a hospital. Zubair had shrapnel lodged in his leg — an injury that would take expensive laser surgeries to heal — while Nabila looked down to see her hand bleeding.

“I tried to bandage my hand but the blood wouldn’t stop,” she said. “The blood kept coming.”

The Rehmans traveled halfway across the world, from their remote village of Tappi, to tell their story, and to urge lawmakers to put an end to the covert CIA program of “targeted killings” in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. They also participated in an Amnesty International report about casualties of drones and a documentary by filmmaker Robert Greenwald, called Unmanned. According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 376 total strikes have taken place in Pakistan, killing up to 926 civilians, and as many as 200 children.

The Obama administration, for its part, until recently did not even acknowledge the existence of the program.

See? He probably doesn’t even know. He didn’t know bubkes about Benghazi, about the IRS, about the NSA, about EdselCare—what’s he going to know about a grandma picking okra with her grandkids?

Ultimately, only five members of Congress arrived at the briefing to hear their testimony Tuesday morning: Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, who organized the briefing, along with Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Rush Holt, D-N.J., John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rick Nolan, D-Minn.

I’m actually kind of ashamed only five congressmen showed up, none of them Republican. Still, maybe one of the Democrats can get word to Obama, and he can find out whose ass to kick.

From another account:

“What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village,” al-Muslimi said, “one drone strike accomplished in an instant: there is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America,” adding that he has ”seen al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula use U.S. strikes to promote its agenda and try to recruit more terrorists.”

The drones are an important tool in counterterrorism, no doubt. But President Obama has a Big Problem here. Under President Bush, a rabidly ruthless press would hound him until he changed policy (see the successful surge in Iraq). This press corps is complicit—accessories before, during, and after the fact.

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