Tag Archives: Osama bin Laden

Another date to mark a war with no end in sight

I refuse to call Sept. 11 an “anniversary.” I reserve that term to commemorate weddings and other happy beginnings.

9/11 is none of that. It’s coming up Monday. Sixteen years ago terrorists commandeered four jetliners; they flew two of them into the World Trade Center’s twin towers; one flew into the Pentagon; one crashed in a Pennsylvania field after a titanic struggle between passengers and terrorists.

Roughly 3,000 people died on that terrible day.

Not long after that, President Bush sent young Americans to war against the terrorists. The Taliban government in Afghanistan, which had given shelter for the monsters, fell to our forces. The war raged on and on and on.

In March 2003 the war spread to Iraq. We toppled a dictator, who later was captured, tried and hanged. We were told we went into Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction. We didn’t find any.

What the 9/11 date will remind me on Monday is that we very well may never — at least not in my lifetime — be able to end this war against international terrorism.

President Bush handed the struggle off to Barack Obama in 2009. The fight went on.

In May 2011, President Obama announced “to the nation and the world” that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind. We cheered the news. Crowds gathered outside the White House chanting “USA! USA! USA!” We got the main bad guy.

What happened after that? The war went on.

The Islamic State surfaced during this time. ISIS has continued to bring havoc and horror. There have been beheadings and bombings.

The war rages on, despite the arrest of and deaths of several key ISIS and al-Qaeda leaders.

Our enemy is cunning. He is smart. He knows how to hit “soft targets.” His victims primarily are other Muslims, which puts the lie to the notion that we are “at war with Islam.” As President Obama said while announcing bin Laden’s death, our enemy comprises a cabal of murderers who have declared war on Muslims as well as they have on Christians and Jews.

This year, President Obama handed it off to Donald Trump. The new president campaigned foolishly on the pledge to wipe out ISIS and al-Qaeda. He boasted that he knows “more than the generals about ISIS.” He doesn’t.

No matter the level of presidential boastfulness, the fight will rage on. We’ll keep killing terrorist leaders. Others will slither out and take the place of those we eliminate.

How do we prevent more “soft target” incidents? How do we prevent the so-called “lone wolf” from driving a motor vehicle into crowds? Or how do we stop those from igniting bombs at sporting events or other places where large crowds of victims gather?

9/11 is no anniversary. It’s not a date to celebrate. It’s a date that should serve to remind us of the threat that has lurked among us for far longer than we ever imagined.

And it lurks to this very day.

The war will rage on.

Where’s the battle plan, Mr. President?

“I know more about ISIS than the generals. Believe me.”

— Donald Trump, while campaigning for president in 2016

This is one of my favorite moments from the 2016 presidential campaign. Donald J. Trump sought to persuade his (now-shrinking) legions of fans that he was the man with the plan to fight the bad guys.

He won the election. Trump took command of our armed forces. The fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram and other terror groups goes on.

Now, though, the president of the United States is angry. Those generals who have been engaged in this fight against terrorists haven’t defeated them yet. Our vaunted military hasn’t yet killed every single terrorist and brought those villainous organizations to their knees.

Trump’s reliance on “the generals” is a ruse, isn’t it? Doesn’t the commander in chief know more about how to fight ISIS and, I presume, other terrorists than they do? Were that the case, then where in the world is the presidential battle plan? Why doesn’t he reveal to the Pentagon brass how they should implement his strategy?

Reports have bubbled out of the White House that the president is dissatisfied with the progress of the Afghan War, which the United States has been fighting since 2001 in response to the 9/11 terror attack in the United States.

The president ought to consider settling down just a bit.

He has a fine man leading the Defense Department, retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis. The new White House chief of staff is another retired Marine general, John Kelly. Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, is an active duty Army lieutenant general. He has two four-stars and a three-star general as critical parts of his national security team. They’re all brilliant military men.

They also are fighting a profoundly unconventional enemy. These terror groups took the fight to us on 9/11 and we have responded with precision, professionalism and cold calculation. Our nation’s counter-terrorism team tracked down Osama bin Laden and a SEAL/CIA team took him out, killed him dead.

Donald Trump clearly doesn’t “know more about ISIS” than the military professionals who provide him with advice and military counsel.

And, no, Mr. President, the United States is not “losing” the Afghan War. Everyone in America knew this would be a long slog when we went to war in Afghanistan.

If only the president simply would pay attention.

CIA: former foe of the left becomes its friend

An interesting Internet meme is making the rounds. It says that “real patriots” don’t question when the Central Intelligence Agency says that Russians hacked into our electoral system in 2016.

Now, those of us who are old enough to have lived through a good bit of U.S. history remember something quite different about American attitudes toward the CIA.

The meme to which I referred is intended to take a swipe at conservatives who are siding with Donald J. Trump’s view that the CIA’s intelligence-gathering capability isn’t up to snuff. Think about that for a moment: Liberals are siding with the spooks.

It wasn’t always this way.

Let’s flash back for a moment to the 1970s. The Vietnam War was still raging; a Republican president was about to be re-elected; the CIA was allegedly helping the president develop an “enemies list” that targeted left-wing protesters; then came that burglary at the Watergate office complex; the president then told the CIA to instruct the FBI to back off its probe of the break-in.

The crap hit the fan. The CIA was caught doing something wrong. Liberals cheered; conservatives moaned. The president resigned and it took years for the CIA to wipe its face clean.

More than four decades later, the CIA is still on the job. It is conducting intelligence operations around the world. It is well-run. Indeed, the CIA played a huge role in the mission that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011, an event that brought liberals and conservatives together to cheer the success of that endeavor.

Politics, though, does have this way of ebbing and flowing. We are the point today where the CIA is seen as a valuable watchdog against those who would do harm to our political system.

The CIA — and a few other agencies — have concluded that Russian meddled in our 2016 presidential election. Whether they actually swung the election in Donald Trump’s favor is one of the questions of the moment; I tend to think Trump would have won regardless. That’s not the point.

The point is that they meddled. The CIA has determined they have meddled. A lot of political hands across the spectrum — and that includes progressives/liberals — believe in the CIA analysis. The most prominent denier of all this happens to the Republican president of the United States, the current darling of the conservative movement, the guy who says he wants to “put America first” and to make this country “great again.”

Oh, the winds of change do have this curious way of blowing away old thoughts and bias.

No, Mr. President; Obama did react to Russian hacking

Donald J. Trump keeps harping on a canard, which is that Barack Obama “did nothing” when he learned in the summer of 2016 about Russian efforts to hack into our electoral process.

Wrong, Mr. President.

Trump keeps dodging the question about whether he believes the Russians sought to influence the 2016 presidential election. Today, he once again gave the Russians some political cover by saying that “other countries” are hacking us, too.

My point here, though, is that President Obama did react to reports of Russian hacking.

He imposed economic sanctions against individuals; he tossed Russian diplomats out of the United States; he closed two Russian diplomatic compounds — all of this in reaction to reports of Russian hacking.

Trump is having none of it. He wants to divert attention from the questions and suspicion that continues to swirl around him regarding the Russians and whatever — if any — relationship they had with the Trump presidential campaign.

I get that presidents have blamed their immediate predecessors for real and imagined problems. Obama laid a lot of blame at the feet of his predecessor, George W. Bush — although he did give the Bush administration plenty of credit for the work it had done in helping locate Osama bin Laden prior to the May 2011 commando raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader.

Is there ever going to be a moment when the current president would offer a good word to his immediate predecessor? Don’t hold your breath. I won’t.

As for Trump’s insistence that Obama did “nothing” to respond to Russian hackers, that’s just another lie.

How would Trump react if he had ordered bin Laden hit?

I have watched a fascinating interview with Donald J. Trump. CNN broadcast it before Trump became president.

Wolf Blitzer asked Trump to identify something positive about Barack Obama’s presidency. Trump said it was “very hard” to find one to say positive about the 44th president of the United States.

Blitzer then blurted out that he “got (Osama) bin Laden.” Trump responded that Obama was taking “too much credit” for authorizing the commando raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader in May 2011.

Here’s the video:

Trump offered a seriously stupid response.

I am struck by this notion: How do you think Donald John Trump would have responded publicly had he been the commander in chief and had he ordered the raid that killed bin Laden?

Something tells me he might have declared that he flew one of the helicopters into bin Laden’s compound himself, rushed the building where the terrorist was holed up and put a bullet into him.

Just sayin’, man. Just sayin’.

Hoping ISIS leader is a goner … finally!

The Russian government usually isn’t to be trusted to tell the truth about anything.

The country’s foreign ministry, though, has put out a tantalizing morsel: Russian air strikes might this past month have killed the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Before we get all a-flutter over this possibility, it’s good to ponder some elements that ought to keep us grounded.

Is the terrorist really dead?

Al-Baghdadi’s death would not mean the end of ISIS. It opens the door for another madman to step forward to take his place.

You might recall that when U.S. special forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011, there was dancing in front of the White House and chants of “USA! USA! USA!” Sure, we got the 9/11 mastermind, but the fight against al-Qaeda goes on.

There also have been earlier claims of al-Baghdadi’s death. The Russians have been hitting ISIS targets in Syria with air strikes and ground-based artillery. Are the Russians to be believed now? Do we hold out hope that they actually got this monstrous madman? Furthermore, are the Russians to be believed?

I guess I could remind all of us that terrorism doesn’t exist within the ranks of international organizations. “Lone wolf” terrorists lurk among us. They skulk out from under rocks. Latest example? The guy who shot the Republican lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game, wounding several people, including the House GOP whip, Steve Scalise.

I am going to hope the Russian claim that they might have killed al-Baghdadi. I am going to retain the realism of the fight in which we are engaged against terror. The fight likely never will end.

Another prime al-Qaeda target emerges

Welcome to the world of most wanted public enemies, young man.

I refer to the son of Osama bin Laden, a fellow named Hamza bin Laden, a 28-year-old terrorist with visions of walking along his late father’s blood-soaked trail.

The young bin Laden has declared that he wants to rekindle al-Qaeda as a terrorist force, a force for evil.

OK, then. Here’s a thought for Donald Trump’s national security team.

You’ve got a professed killer on the loose with the stated aim of juicing up a bloodthirsty terrorist organization. That means he has declared himself to be an enemy of the United States of America.
What does this mean? It means the young man is fair game. He’s a target for our special ops forces, our CIA spooks and those who might be close to him who could help guide our personnel toward a hit in the manner of the mission that took out Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

The president has a first-rate national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, on the job. His homeland security secretary, John Kelly, also is a competent former Marine general. They have the best military apparatus ever assembled at their disposal; indeed, former Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis has emerged as a serious-minded secretary of defense. They also have the best intelligence-gatherers available to them as well — no matter what the president might think of them.

Let’s get busy and find this guy.

I think they ought to commence — if they haven’t already — a “search and destroy” mission to rid the world of Osama bin Laden’s son.

Good hunting. We’ll await your report.

More like a stand-up double, maybe, Mr. President

The president of the United States believes he “hit a home run” on his first trip abroad as head of state.

I believe I will disagree with Donald J. Trump on that one.

“But we have been gone for close to nine days. This will be nine days. And I think we hit a home run no matter where we are,” Trump said in Italy as he prepared to return home — and into the political maelstrom that awaits.

Let’s review:

* He started in Saudi Arabia and delivered an acceptable speech to a room full of kings, presidents and potentates about the threat of international terrorism. It’s interesting that he would make such a speech in a country that has done next to nothing to curb its breeding of terrorists. Hey, wasn’t Osama bin Laden a Saudi native?

* Trump ventured to Israel, where was met by government officials who were steamed that he revealed classified secrets to Russian visitors earlier that had come from Israeli intelligence officials. Lord knows what Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu likely told him in private.

* Then he went to the Vatican and met with Pope Francis, who he had criticized while campaigning for the presidency because the Holy Father disagreed with some public policy statements the candidate had made.

* Trump then ventured to Brussels, where he scolded NATO allies because some of them aren’t paying enough for the defense of Europe against Russian threats and those threats presented by terrorists. The reactions of the heads of state and government who heard the lecture couldn’t have been more instructive; they couldn’t believe the president would dress them down in such a public manner.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/335416-trump-at-conclusion-of-first-foreign-trip-i-think-we-hit-a-home-run

Along the way, the president was met with concern, a bit of anger over past statements. By my way of reasoning, he didn’t do much to assuage the concerns of world leaders who are concerned about the absence of any public service experience in his background.

Home run, Mr. President? Hardly. I’d say you hit — maybe — a stand-up double.

No surprise that POTUS skips correspondents dinner

The White House Correspondents Association is having its annual dinner tonight.

One of the normal attendees is missing. That would be the president of the United States. Are you surprised? Me neither.

Donald J. Trump has declared the media to be the “enemy of the people.” He has accused the media of peddling “fake news.” He said just today that the media have “purposely” reported “negatively” his first 100 days in office.

Did anyone really expect the president to stand before a large banquet room full of media representatives, wisecrack his way through a routine, slap a few backs as if he really harbors no ill feelings toward the media? Of course not!

What the president has done, of course, is attack an institution that was guaranteed protection from government bullying and coercion. That guarantee is written explicitly in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That has not mattered to the president, who has banned certain media outlets access to his administration and scolded certain media members harshly in public for allegedly reporting falsehoods.

How ironic it is. You’ll recall that in 2011 Trump — then just a mere real estate mogul and reality TV celebrity — sat among the media at a White House correspondents dinner. That was the event in which President Barack Obama poked fun at Trump, needling him for promoting the “fake news” about the president’s place of birth and assorted other mistruths. He did all that, by the way, on the same day he ordered the CIA-Navy SEAL operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

Hey, maybe Donald Trump believes Barack Obama’s act is too difficult to follow, given the former president’s impeccable comic timing. Nah, probably not.

Maybe the president will bury the hatchet with the media and recognize publicly that the media have a job to do, which is to hold public officials — including the president of the United States — accountable for their actions and decisions.

Trump declines to mingle with ‘the enemy’

We might have seen this one coming.

Donald J. Trump announced today he won’t attend the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, an event that attracts noted journalists, assorted celebrities and politicians — and usually features a blistering bit of self-deprecation and jabs at others from the president of the United States.

It’s a whole lot of fun for those who attend. At least it’s supposed to be fun.

Trump, though, will forgo the event. “I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Is anyone surprised? Really? I didn’t think so. Trump, after all, has labeled the media the “enemy of the people.” Why would he want to mingle with such “dishonest” individuals and organizations?

The president has gone on the warpath against the mainstream media, going so far as to ban certain media organizations from attending routine White House press briefings. He has called them “fake news” outlets. He has accused the media of making stories up, of hiding their sources and attribution.

It is all — if I may borrow a term — “unpresidented” of the president to say these things about the media.

However, the White House Correspondents Dinner has been notable at many levels for many years. Perhaps the most notable event occurred in 2011, when then-President Obama joked about Trump — who was in the audience — concocting all sorts of conspiracy theories, starting with whether the president was born in the U.S. of A. Trump, at the time a mere real estate mogul and reality TV celebrity, took the ribbing stone-faced

What we didn’t know at the time, of course, was that earlier that day Obama had approved the commando mission to kill Osama bin Laden, who was holed up in a Pakistan compound. The president  carried on as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

The dinner, which occurs on April 29, will no doubt include plenty of barbs tossed at the president from the podium.

I’m willing to consider taking bets on whether Trump unloads via Twitter in response when they start flying at him. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, either.