With the end of a year in which America made virtually no progress on any geopolitical front comes a host of revelations signifying that 2010 might be no better. Specifically…
1. The administration has apparently released Qais Qazali, the head of an Iranian-backed Shi’ite terror group operating in Iraq, along with 100 other terrorists. Qazali and his group killed five American soldiers in an attack on an outpost in Karbala in 2007; in exchange for his release the group, affiliated with and trained by Iran’s Quds force, released a British hostage and the remains of three other Brits.
The effect on morale within the U.S. military of this decision isn’t a particularly positive one. “We let a very dangerous man go, a man whose hands are stained with US and Iraqi blood,” one officer is quoted as saying. “We are going to pay for this in the future.”
2. News hit Wednesday that the Taliban sympathizer who killed seven CIA operatives and a section chief, effectively wiping out the agency’s presence in critical Khost province, was not even searched for weapons and had been invited onto the American military base where he detonated a vest bomb.
3.Federal prosecutors attempting to convict five Blackwater security operators for a shooting incident in Baghdad in 2007 had their case thrown out when a judge ruled that the government’s case was based on sworn statements by the Blackwater operatives that had been given under a promise of immunity. It’s not clear what actually happened in the underlying incident to the case, but it appears the Blackwater operators were involved in a firefight resulting in the deaths of some bystanders. The Iraqi government demanded a role in the case but was rebuffed, and with the operators going free it’s likely a significant controversy will ensue between America and Iraq.
4. It was confirmed yesterday that a Somali man charged with possession of a virtually identical mix of chemicals to those Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had in trying to bomb Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day was let go by the Somali government; a court in Mogadishu found there was no evidence the man had committed a crime. According to the Associated Press:
The Somali case drew little attention before the attempted attack on the U.S.-bound plane. The Homeland Security Department did not learn of the November incident at Mogadishu’s international airport until Wednesday, when U.S. officials began investigating for links between it and the Detroit case.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Wednesday that linking the case to the Christmas attack “would be speculative at this point.”
In a related tidbit, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol relates a conversation with a friend, who comments on the fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s lawyering up and subsequent refusal to cooperate with investigators is extremely damaging to our security:
“In Abdulmutallab, we have a terrorist in custody who’s probably a lot smarter than the Richard Reids and Zacarias Moussaouis of the world, at least based on his educational background, and who therefore may be a rich source of intelligence –and we’re letting him invoke Constitutional protections that he has only by virtue of coming to our country to murder hundreds of people!”
5. Meanwhile, the Saudis are engaged in a military struggle with an Iranian-backed Shi’ite group known as the “Believing Youth” – and losing despite receiving American military aid. They had asked the Egyptians to provide support, but have now been turned down.
6. Finally, in an explosive piece on The American Spectator’s website today, sources inside the administration allege that White House officials David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel and Robert Bauer are scouring the history of the Bush administration’s battles against jihadist terrorists for ammunition to use in making favorable comparisons against their predecessors’ efforts in the War On Terror. From the article:
“The idea was that we’d show that the Bush Administration had had far worse missteps than we ever could,” says a staffer in the counsel’s office. “We were told that classified material involving anything related to al Qaeda operating in Yemen or Nigeria was fair game and that we’d declassify it if necessary.”
The White House, according to the source, is in full defensive spin mode. Other administration sources also say a flurry of memos were generated on December 26th, 27th, and 28th, which developed talking points about how Obama’s decision to effectively shut down the Homeland Security Council (it was merged earlier this year into the National Security Council, run by National Security Adviser James Jones) had nothing to do with what Obama called a “catastrophic” failure on Christmas Day.
“This White House doesn’t view the Northwest [Airlines] failure as one of national security, it’s a political issue,” says the White House source. “That’s why Axelrod and Emanuel are driving the issue.”
What to make of all this? Our current effort in the War On Terror that we can’t even describe outside of euphemisms and bureaucratic doublespeak is all but doomed without a sea change. Our troops are suffering from low morale on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, we are in full diplomatic reversal on several major fronts, we are paralyzed while watching a golden opportunity to eliminate the Iranian regime through a popular revolution that we have done nothing to support, our domestic security apparatus has been exposed as a sloppy, wasteful, Byzantine bureaucratic mess and atop it all sits a White House more interested in scoring rhetorical points against its predecessors than actually doing its job.
This has been a wasted year in the War On Terror, and America is now in retreat. That much seems apparent; the enemy certainly has the initiative. Is there any reason to believe this administration is willing to take action to regain the upper hand, or will the enemy continue taking the fight to us across the globe?