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Showing posts with label Libya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Libya. Show all posts

Thursday, January 31, 2013

AQ 2.0: The Limits of Intervention

Bad choices in 2013.

David Ignatius has an interesting piece today on the perilous options for the West in countering the “cancerous” spread of al-Qaeda in places like Mali.

“Striking at these local nodes — as the French are doing now in Mali — can disrupt the new terrorist cells," he writes. "But analysts stress that there will be consequences: The cells may metastasize further, drawing new jihadists into the fight and potentially threatening targets in Europe and the United States.”

Indeed, they’re everywhere, and nowhere, an annoyance that has become a public menace, like small time hoods hoping to become "made men.”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Benghazi Debacle: FUBAR

On the very first night of my arrival in Vietnam to take over a secret intelligence operation, I was invited with my team to attend a cocktail party at the American consulate in Da Nang, an old French colonial port city on the central coast. I was so new, I was memorizing my cover story even as we drove to the consulate.

I was going to be running a “unilateral” espionage operation, which is to say, I not only wouldn't work with my South Vietnamese counterparts, who were heavily infiltrated by the communists, I was to consider them potential enemy agents, too.

A South Vietnamese colonel approached me during the party and asked what I did.  Using my fresh-from-language school Vietnamese, I told him that I was Army civilian working with a civilian refugee assistance program.

“Oh,”  he said with a smirk, “you’re a spook.” 

I froze. Later on, driving back to our safe house (in a Jeep painted black with diplomatic license tags, no less), I nervously told my teammates about the encounter with the colonel.

“Oh, that’s nothing”, one said, chuckling. “The Green Berets captured a Vietcong terrorist map six months ago. It had a big X on our house.”

“What happened?” I asked. “Nothing,” they said in unison, smiling with war-weariness. “Obviously we haven't moved.

"It’s just Fubar."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Romney's 3 am Phone Call

Arguably the most memorable political ad during Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for the White House was the “3 AM phone call.” 

“It’s 3 am and your children are safe and asleep.  But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call. Whether it’s someone who already knows the world’s leaders. Knows the military. Someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world ... Who do you want answering the phone?”

If the last 36 hours are any guide, you don’t want Mitt Romney answering that phone. In fact, you don’t want him anywhere near the White House situation room, ever.

You do want Barack Obama picking up that phone. For if Obama’s surprising performance over the past three-plus years as commander in chief is any guide, he’s calm, cool, collected--and effective--in a crisis, no matter what you think of his domestic policies or drone strikes.

Romney, in contrast, is an excitable lad. He’s exactly what you don’t want in a commander-in-chief, which is to say, he’s impetuous, not to mention shallow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The High Risks of Cyberwar Revealed in Libya Attack Debate

Why didn’t the Pentagon let slip the dogs of cyberwar on Gaddafi? Depends on whom you talk to, I guess.

According to Monday’s report by the New York Times’ Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker,  the main reason “administration officials and even some military officers balked [at a cyber attack on Libya]" was because they "fear[ed] that it might set a precedent for other nations, in particular Russia or China, to carry out such offensives of their own, and questioning whether the attack could be mounted on such short notice…”

According to today’s story by The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima, however, the main reason the administration demurred was because "there was not enough time for a cyber attack to work.”

Big difference.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Musa Kusa Chronicles: How NATO Botched Libyan Defection

Musa Kusa, the powerful former Libyan intelligence official dubbed “the envoy of death” for sending hit men around the globe to eliminate opposition figures, now sits in Qatar, a man without a country since he fled Tripoli in March.

But it wasn’t for want of trying that Kusa, who tried to defect to the West in March, ended up under the protection of the gulf state monarchy.

According to fresh details from Washington Post national security columnist David Ignatius, the French and then the British “botched” the attempted defection of Kusa, who was also a key CIA interlocutor in the secret negotiations that led to Moammar Gaddafi’s renunciation of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in 2003.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Did Play Station Help NATO Target Gaddafi?

A pile of PlayStation games was found in the wreckage of a building adjacent to a house hit by a NATO missile in Tripoli over the weekend, according to news reports.

“The walls of an adjacent building were partly destroyed,” The Washington Post’s Simon Denyer and Leila Fadel reported.

“In one room, a television was still turned on, and a pile of PlayStation games lay on a sofa, including Modern Warfare 2 and Fifa Soccer 10. A pair of Homer Simpson slippers was half buried in the dust,” they wrote.

Modern Warfare 2, it turns out, can unlock a user’s computer to outsiders.

U.S. should revisit ban on assassinations

The Saturday air strikes that once again killed a child of Moammar Gaddafi but not him should prompt a new look at the U.S. ban on assassinations of foreign heads of state.

No matter that we keep missing the troglodyte of Tripoli, either it’s the law or it isn’t.

Originally signed by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 and reinforced by presidents Carter and Reagan,  the original ban explicitly stated: “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”

NATO gives Obama only the thinnest of fig leaves.

Even though it was relaxed by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to allow for the assassination of designated terrorists, the executive ban stands. Ignoring it not only exposes the United States to worldwide mocking and condemnation, of course, it invites retaliation.

Is it any surprise that Gaddafi's mobs attacked the British and Italian embassies on Sunday? It could get far worse.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gaddafi video a fake, may be incapacitated, ex-CIA official says

An official Libyan TV video purporting to show Muammar Gaddafi visiting a school in Tripoli on Saturday is a fake, according a top former CIA and White House intelligence official. In reality, he said, the besieged dictator may have suffered a stroke.

Vincent Cannistraro, who headed CIA counterterrorism operations in the George H.W. Bush administration, told SpyTalk that the authenticity of the state television video, purporting to show Gaddafi’s first public appearance in five days, could be easily dismissed.

“There is no school on Saturday, as it’s the second of a two-day weekend in Libya [and] in the last two weeks schools in Tripoli have been closed,” Cannistraro said.

“Most tellingly, the blackboard shown in the film has the date as 2009,” added Cannistraro, who was also in charge of intelligence programs in the Reagan administration's National Security Council. “Gaddafi doesn’t speak and the soundtrack appears unmatched with the film.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Musa Kusa had 'too much blood on his hands' to join rebels

In the end, Musa Kusa had nowhere else to go.

Moammar Gaddafi's hit man emeritas, who plotted assassinations and airline bombings as well as helped Washington pursue al-Qaeda terrorists, could not defect to the opposition like other top Libyan officials.

He had  “too much blood on his hands,” a spokesman for a U.S.-based Libyan human rights group told me earlier this month.

Libyan rebels need CIA's radio sets, not just Tweets

Upon a report Wednesday that President Obama has authorized "covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi," the logical question is what kind of secret activities the CIA and Defense Department could effectively undertake.

Besides improved weapons, what the rebels most need is a means to coordinate NATO air strikes from the ground.  A former top CIA official told me over lunch the other day that he'd heard that British SAS commandos were already on the ground in Libya sending target information to overhead jets, if not AWACS planes quarterbacking the strikes. 

Obviously, however, with Gaddafi's forces still capable of pushing back the rebels, that's not working well enough.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Obama's Libya critics should stop whining

As predictable as dogwoods in springtime,  "American intelligence" is saying Moammar Gadhafi is on the ropes.   It's enough to make one worry things aren't going as well as it looks for the rebels.

The report came from CNN, which quoted an anonymous intelligence official saying there were indications that the "morale of Gadhafi forces is on the decline." Along the same lines,  President Obama declared in his speech Monday night that "we have stopped Gadhafi's advance." 

One can only hope. But stopping Gadhafi's advance and crushing his regime are not the same thing. In any event,  much the same was said of Osama Bin Laden and -- who could forget? -- Iraq, the Taliban and, going back a long way, the North Vietnamese.  They were always on the ropes, except when they weren't.

Friday, March 21, 2008

John McCain’s Polish Moment, Iranian Style

The Republican candidate’s insistence, then backtracking, then his campaign’s backtracking on the backtracking, that Iran is training al Qaeda evoked President Gerald R. Ford’s declaration that “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.” For others, it was a reminder that we have all been here before — and we are once again exposed to the ignorance of top American officials about the Middle East.

CQ Homeland Security (03/21/2007)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Libya May Escape Final Judgment in Pan-Am 103 Case

Libya is close to getting off the hook for millions of dollars in payments to relatives of the 189 Americans who died in the bombing of Pan American Flight 103, amid a stiff new challenge to the 2001 verdict and rapidly warming relations between the erstwhile terrorist state and Washington.
See story

CQ Politics(12/20/2007)