Thursday, January 19, 2006
Glenn Reynolds has a round-up of useful links here. The Counterterrorism Blog's link-rich report is here, and Bill Roggio's wrap-up here. Roggio:
The final results of from the airstrike in the Pakistani border town of Damadola are now known. In addition to Abu Khabab al-Masri, who was al-Qaeda’s chief bomb maker, head of the WMD program, and former terror camp commander, two other al-Qaeda commanders were killed in the strike. ABC News confirms that Khalid Habib [or Khaled al-Harbi] and Abdul Rehman al Magrabi perished in the attack.
Khaled al-Harbi is al-Qaeda’s operational commander in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Al-Harbi splits duty in Afghanistan with Abd al Hadi Al Iraqi, and both are considered “two of [al-Qaeda’s] most able commanders”.
Abdul Rehman al Magrabi, a Moroccan, is thought to be al-Qaeda’s commander in Pakistan, and is said to have replaced Abu Hamza Rabia, who was killed in Pakistan on December 1, 2005.
According to a trusted source, the DNA tests are complete and the two other other “foreigners” killed are said to be al-Qaeda bodyguards. Ayman al-Zawahiri appears to have slipped the net.
By the standards of war, we have learned the results of this attack pretty fast -- in about 96 hours, by my quick reckoning. The attack was, without question, a triple, even if not a home run. This attack was a success against enemies of the United States who have declared war against it.
A lot of lefty bloggers are going to be very unhappy about this.
Oh, I'm being unfair? Read what the big left-wing blogs were saying four days ago, when all governments involved were saying that we actually did not know who had been killed in the attack:
AMERICABlog: "At least when Clinton 'lobbed cruise missiles at tents' he wasn't blowing up entire innocent families in small villages who had no idea what was about to happen to them."
Atrios: "Mick Shrimpton is, despite reports to the contrary, apparently still alive. Eight other men, five women, and five children, however, are in fact dead." [As always hipper than thou, Atrios dropped a "Spinal Tap" reference into his post about the air strike. - ed.]
James Wolcott: "At Firedoglake, Jane Hamsher (relaying comments from Phoenix Woman) reminds us of the partisan media uproar over Clinton's decision to bomb an aspirin factory, indignation which Bush has been spared despite the US's bad habit of bombing wedding parties. Must be because Bush is such a beloved president, what with his personal approval numbers down in the low forties and all."
Er, Firedoglake: "While both the traditional media and the warbloggers like Cap'n Ed are quick to dismiss the lives of 17 innocent people we accidentally bombed this morning ('This is war, and unfortunately war results in collateral deaths by mistaken targeting'), Phoenix Woman, from the comments, takes us back to yesteryear:
Note how a few years back, the GOP/Media Axis went into Froth-At-The-Mouth over "Bill Clinton bombing an innocent aspirin factory!"[Well, she makes a good point about the Republican criticism of Clinton, and then scuttles all that useful history by blowing wind over the "murder" of "innocent" men, women and children. Who happen to invite enemy combatants over for dinner so that they can plan their spring offensive in comfort. - ed.]
They did so, even though:
a) the factory was indeed part-owned by Osama bin Laden (who Clinton was chasing down, even as the GOP/Media Axis was mocking him over it and hampering him with their "wag the dog!" crap)
b) the factory wasn't just making aspirin, but other, less charming substances, and
c) the attack took place at night to ensure civilians weren't harmed.
No similar mitigating circumstances exist for this bombing. None. Yet the GOP/Media Axis is still frantically trying to spin the murder of innocent men, women and children as a Good Thing."
Daily Kos (mcjoan): "What this strike has achieved is the further alienation of Pakistan, and provided further proof of the Bush administration's utter ineptitude. It's a reminder that the disastrous Iraq debacle diverted resources from the critical effort to contain al-Qaeda and calls into question exactly what it is that our intelligence agencies are doing."
Juan Cole: "Ooops. The bombing of a village in northern Paksitan, apparently done in hopes of killing al-Qaeda #2 Ayman al-Zawahir, missed its intended target."
Interestingly, scrolling through perhaps a dozen big lefty blogs, I did not see a single post that actually expressed regret that we had not killed al Zawahiri. Most of the posts were almost gleeful that we had apparently missed again, and almost all focused on the "innocent" people who had died (to which I refer you to my discussion of the proper measure of culpability in that regard).
The uncompromising left really should do a better job of concealing its quite obvious hope that Bush fails in every aspect of the prosecution of this war. It almost makes it hard for us to believe that they support the troops, fer Chrissakes, and they certainly don't want us laboring under that impression.
UPDATE: Because I am filled with the milk of evenhandedness, Kevin Drum, who is not of the "uncompromising left" in any case, asks the question that lefty blogs should ask themselves.
I'm always sickened by the sheer joy of leftists when they think that innocent people have been killed by the U. S. military. They actually smile and whistle happy little tunes and make arch jokes and sleep better at night, thinking that our armed forces are cold-blooded and inept killers.
Leftism has replaced religion for many people. It's an article of faith among leftists that the U. S. military is nothing but ruthless murderers, so when leftists think that innocent people have been killed pointlessly, it's the same as when a Christian has one of his or her beliefs validated.
The difference is that the Christian finds joy in miracles of healing or redemption or salvation, while the leftist finds joy in death, failure, suffering, and ugliness.
The thing that really sickens me is this:
We're at war.
Even if *no* terrorists were killed, at worst this would have been an absolutely tragic, but legitimate strike against people who are committing acts of war against us and atrocities against our allies. Where is the perspective? Even the Pakistanis (who have far less reason to be charitable than we) recognize that.
Name a war in history - name any human endeavor - in which there have been no mistakes. No tragic miscalculations.
Yet the Left gloats and bleats over each and every one, even before the dust has settled and it's not even certain that we HAVE made a mistake.
You'd think they'd be afraid of having to eat their words later, but in their haste to heap calumny on the President and our armed forces, they don't hesitate for a moment.
And this is what sickens me, because it shows their mind set: the truth doesn't really even matter to them. We're guilty, no matter how the facts end up turning out, just by virtue of being over there. That's why they don't care what they say and why they never wait for the facts to come in before shooting off their big mouths.
End of story.
"We're guilty, no matter how the facts end up turning out, just by virtue of being over there."
Makes one wonder, doesn't it? What will the lefties say when the bad guys begin to blow up things (again) over HERE? Please forgive me if I already suspect the answer...
Will those lefty blogs you quoted now post something that retracts their mocking?
Or will them simply claim that Bush et al is now lying to cover up the 'innocent' deaths?
I bet silence or the denial.
The great significance of this attack -- signal to noise, folks, signal to noise -- is that Musharraf and the Pakistani intelligence have clearly infiltrated the bad guys, have shared the intelligence with us, and we gave Musharraf a big win.
While there is much bleating that our assault within the borders of Pakistan alienates Musharraf, that is superficial blather. These people have declared war not just on us, but on him. They are actively pusruing his assassination just as they did Massoud in Afghanistan. Musharraf's team is pretty clearly getting us the humint we can't gather, and we are using it to get these assholes.
To me, this is definitive evidence that Musharraf is playing on only one side -- ours. The noose is tightening on AQ leadership.
"I bet silence or the denial. "
You said it! Look at the Kevin Drum blog linked above - the comemnts are 220+, and it's all "don't believe the lies!" conspiracy idiocy.
...but when a report shows the US doing something bad, oh, that's instantly freaking GOSPEL.
Excellent post. Thought that Callimachus ("Done with Mirrors") summed it up well:
"If the current Republican leadership is devoid of creative thinking and the will-power to lead America seriously through a long war, and the Democrats refuse to acknowledge the problem entirely, where do we turn? Start by looking for someone who can say, "We might lose in Iraq," and who says it with a frown, not a smile."
The far left delights in American failure. They can protest otherwise- but the snide smirk always gives it away.
I have to say, I did get a smile out of Phoenix Woman's referencing the "GOP/Media Axis", i.e the original Axis of Evil.
Of course Hitchens had a few uncomplimentary things to say about that bombing as I recall, and I think that was somewhat before he became a hip-pocket accessory to the neo-evil Bush II cartel.
But let's put all that aside and accept the angry Left's assertions that bin Laden was indeed 'invested in' using the Khartoum aspirin factory for nefarious purposes. Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, two senior counterterrorism figures from the Clinton National Security Council, have written a book, The Age of Sacred Terror, in which they make the case that "Iraqi weapons-scientists" were linked to Bin Laden's factory. For what it's worth, Richard Clarke has said as much too, telling the press at the time of the bombing that he was "sure" that "intelligence existed linking bin Laden to Al Shifa's current and past operators, the Iraqi nerve gas experts and the National Islamic Front in Sudan."
All of which is to say that, even now at this late date, the facts of the Sudan aspirin factory are in dispute. But I do find it amusing that the Left is so intent on discrediting George Bush it seems not to notice when it helps buttress one of his central arguments for war.
I read the comments only at Drum's blog, but they're probably pretty typical: First, you can't believe a single thing this Administration EVER tells us; second, the moral equivalence on display is Hall of Fame stuff, for example, doesn't this kind of 'terrorism' justify Iraqi insurgents, Palistinian violence, Castro, and any other dirtbag that has a grievance; and finally, the notion that it doesn't change a thing, so we might as well just give up and await what we deserve, I guess. No wonder they're the political persuasion out of power. May it stay that way.
"...we have an obligation to use non-lethal force (i.e. surround the village and move in to capture the guy...)"
I'm a little dazed by some of the remarks posted on Mr. Drum's site, the above quote being representative of them. What exactly would be non-lethal about surrounding a village with troops and moving in to "capture the guy"? As I recall, that was done on Uday and Qusay and there was quite a fight. There was nothing non-lethal about that move.
If the US did use troops, violence would've been inevitable; I simply don't see the village rolling over and playing dead at the display of troops and firepower. And then, what would the criticism be? The US should've used air power to keep the casualties to a minimum?
I understand the sentiment of not wanting to be part of a side that inflicts civillian casualties. I wouldn't want us to become callous bastards and stop caring about innocents killed by our hand either. It's vitally important for us to continue to reasses our role, and contiually evaluate our actions in this conflict. But it worries me that some are ready to condemn any action the US takes as unjust. That's more kneejerk than thoughful.
I would challenge Kevin on one assumption in his argument and that is, if any civilians were present they (except for children) knew they were harbouring some of the most wanted terrorists on the planet and therefore were not "innocent". Further, they knew the danger they faced and took that chance.
Something for the left to consider.
Partial cross post to the comments @ Drum's post:
What progessives consistent fail to grasp is the difference between 'us' and 'them' isn't tactics, it's the motives of either side and the consequences of the victory of either side. If you genuinely believe that the world would be the same or a better place if AQ wins/the US loses then yeah, civilian deaths are civilians deaths and the actions of either side are morally equivalent. Of course, if you genuinely believe that the world would be the same or a better place if AQ wins/the US loses then you're either someone that enjoys stoning gays and oppressing women... or a mouth breathing moron. Otherwise, the civilian deaths are bound up in that great balancer of progressive books, 'for the greater good'. Further, as has been pointed out, everyone seems to take it for granted that the terrorists should bear even the slightest bit of culpability for adopting as an institutional tactic the shielding of themselves with innocents.
I have some respect for people who oppose a tactic because they believe it's ineffective toward the common goal like combatting terror; that's a gentlemen's disagreement over methods, but the basic logic is shared. But most of the dissenters seem to not share that basis, and instead seem to view terror, poverty, racism, et al as the justifiable result of the US's very existence.
I'd like to thank junyo for the comment, I generally lean to the left, so having someone recognize that there IS an argument to be made is nice to hear.
I think perhaps more honest discussion of what really should be done, rather than constant derisive screaming from BOTH sides would be refreshing on a blog. maybe you guys should spend some time posting over there... AND staying above the frey.
We at Al Qaeda High Command are the real celebrants of Bushes repeated mistakes and out right fuckups.
He's made recruiting much easier and the Arab peoples now overwhelmingly hate him and the US.
He is indeed a gift from Allah!!
No matter what the Bush administration does to protect the American people the left will find fault.
No matter what success the Bush administration achieves,the left will see only failure.
Any American failure,is seen as success for the left.
Becareful what you wish for,you might just get it.
Hey! Republicans are doing much better at keeping collateral casualities down. Looking back in history Dresden had 100,000 collaterals under a Democratic president, Hiroshima had about 70,000 collaterals again a Democratic president, Nagasaki had about 90,000 with a Democratic president again. So until Bush gets about 230,000 more collaterals
(estimates about 30,000 Iraqi's so
far) Democrats can't even begin to complain.
to "Anonymous, at Sat Jan 21, 09:43:24 AM":
The same can be said of the right when a democrat is in office.
Tell that to the families... It seems strange to make such a thing a numbers game. Pretty much a meaningless statement really.
Ahh! The families that were hosting people within their homes to plot to kill other people? Those poor poor people. I think quite a few of them probably really aren't that innocent. If they really are that good and wonderful they should turn in these bastards get the reward money and build a couple of schools, generating plants, water treatment etc., instead of dancing around for the Al Jezzera cameras chanting Death to America. Those poor poor people.
Doubtless some of those 'poor poor people' are in fact guilty of what you suggest (and I suppose I would feel less bad about those, but maybe not the children); Also doubtless is that many were not.
It's life we value right? When americans die senselessly (in this war or previous) no doubt there were those on the other side who said 'they got what they deserved'. Did they? "No because we were in the right" would be the argument. But say you didn't give a damn, you just wanted to live, and the bomb came down.
I know that you can't avoid "collateral damage" completely. I also know that in many ways the attack was a success. I don't deny that. But it is a problem that I think is especially difficult and new in this war that is not on countries, but on a mysterious, hard to locate 'movement'.
Is it so unbelievable that there might be argument and confusion over this? The terrorists make use of this problem, it is part of their power. Perhaps bombing these people who surround themselves with innocents (which I believe to be the case), is simply aggravating the problem. That is what I believe. The situation reminds me of the image of someone putting their finger in a hole to stop the water, and watching the water pop out in twenty other places. The war on terror reminds me of the war on drugs quite a bit.
Terrorism is a huge, unprecented and terrible problem. I doubt, if you ask yourself honestly, that anyone on either side of the fence would deny that. It is a question of HOW it is dealt with. The right tends towards using force, the left tends towards using diplomacy (all standard polititian bs'ing aside). It's simple really. The left just thinks the problem is being dealt with in the wrong way. They don't hate America, they don't love terrorists. It is ridiculous to assert that in my opinion.
There is a fairly large question of whether you are really living in the real world when someone has a gun pointed at your head with every intention of pulling the trigger and a third party (the Left) helpfully waggles a finger at you and says..."Gee whiz...you know violence is so 5 minutes ago. Why can't you people use diplomacy?".
My answer to that one is this: "Fine. Let me step aside for a moment and you put YOUR temple next to this gun barrel and I'll stand there and tell YOU to use diplomacy.".
If someone comes to your house and rings the doorbell to talk, you sit down and talk.
If someone comes to your house armed to the teeth and starts shooting at you, the efficacy of holding an multilateral conference to wag the stern finger of international diplomacy at him is somewhat dubious.
But hey, that's just me.
A few things about this (and I can affirm for you that I do live in the real world. Is there another I should know about?)
one is that for some reason you seem to be responding to me as if I'm not someone who lives in America... Thus the idea "let me step aside and for a moment and put YOUR temple next to this gun barrel". Well, if you think about it, both our heads are already there. It's America and American/European interests that are being threatened, not just the right wing party.
Second, If I did happen to have someone with a gun to my head, I think I'd rather not have Rambo come in and take his chances with the bazooka if you know what I mean.
Really, you're just restating what was already said. You do not believe that changes in foreign policy or diplomacy would accomplish anything positive. I know that already, and I disagree. That's just me though.
Most of these posts and comments are about the "evil left." Why don't you write about your own party? Is this a playground fight?
"The difference is that the Christian finds joy in miracles of healing or redemption or salvation, while the leftist finds joy in death, failure, suffering, and ugliness."
Wrong. Christians recognize that Jesus is God and try to emulate Him, and leftists try to discourage support for the war and promote social policies. Quit rewriting religion as a foil for political parties.
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