Tag Archives: war on terror

Senate should confirm Gina Haspel as CIA boss

Gina Haspel has spent her career as an undercover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency. She’s no politician or bureaucrat or think-tank wonk.

She’s a career spook. Haspel also should become the next head of the CIA, despite the criticism she has gotten from some quarters about her role in torturing enemy combatants since the onset of the war against terrorism.

I am troubled as well by her declining to declare torture to be immoral. U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called that refusal a “disqualifier.” I happen to disagree with the brave senator/war hero who knows a lot about torture.

Haspel did tell the Senate committee conducting her confirmation hearing that she wouldn’t “restart such a detention and interrogation program” on her watch. That program includes waterboarding and other forms of “intensive interrogation techniques.”

I am willing to take Haspel at her word, even though the president of the United States said more than once while campaigning for the office that waterboarding “doesn’t go far enough.”

Donald Trump has sought to place the CIA  in the hands of a career intelligence officer. She knows her business. I have to maintain faith that she is alert to the fact that the nation — and the world — are watching her every move as she takes command of the nation’s top spy agency.

So, I will maintain that faith as Gina Haspel takes command of an agency that plays arguably the most vital role in our ongoing worldwide fight against those who seek to do us harm.

And the fight goes on and on

You remember al-Qaida, yes? That was the terrorist cabal that hurled the United States into a global war on 9/11. It’s a new form of worldwide conflict.

In recent years our attention has been riveted on the Islamic State, which emerged as Public Enemy No. 1 in that ongoing war.

ISIS has produced its share of public figures who’ve taunted the rest of the world. Perhaps the most notable of them was a British national nicknamed “Jihadi John,” who beheaded prisoners. Jihadi John got his, though, in a missile strike that took him out in 2016.

Here is some more good news: The U.S. military, working with Libyan forces, has killed a key al-Qaida leader in another strike. Musa Abu Dawud was one of two key militant leaders to get blown to bits in a strike in Libya.

Now, before we start our end zone dance and high-five each other, I would like to remind us all of an irrefutable truth in this war: We will need to kill every single terrorist if we have any hope of ending this threat. In other words, although an al-Qaida leader has been smoked, another one — or more — is likely to emerge to replace him.

Donald Trump once told us knew knows “more about ISIS than the generals.” OK, but there must be continued pressure put on the original top enemy, al-Qaida. That organization has continued to wage terror campaigns even though its leader, Osama bin Laden, died in that U.S. commando raid in May 2011.

This is my way of reminding us about the nature of this war against terror. There likely is no way we can declare victory the way we did in World War II, when the world put down the forces of tyranny emanating from Berlin, Rome and Tokyo.

We aren’t fighting military forces that march under the banner of a nation or even a group of nations. We are fighting shady, cunning and creative terrorists who lurk in darkness before striking out.

The president vows to continue the fight, bringing the full weight of our immense military power to bear against terrorists, whether they represent ISIS, al-Qaida, Boko Haram or any sinister organization that seeks to do us harm.

May the fight go on … for as long as it takes.

Honoring a new ‘Greatest Generation’

I am re-reading a book I’ve owned for a couple of decades.

The great broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw penned “The Greatest Generation” to pay tribute to the men and women who saved the world from tyranny during World War II.

Brokaw’s thesis is one that I still accept, that those 16 million Americans who answered the call to fight a global war on two fronts — in Europe and the Pacific — exhibited unparalleled devotion. They served “for the duration” of the war. They finished the job and came home to start their lives.

I’m reading the book, though, with a slightly different take than I had when I picked it up the first time.

The current generation of fighting men and women is rising to the level of devotion and dedication that my father’s generation did more than 70 years ago.

Under vastly different circumstances, to be sure.

They are fighting an enemy that is every bit as cunning and resourceful as the Nazis were in Europe and the Japanese were in the Pacific. These terrorists against whom we keep sending these young Americans to fight are ruthless and dedicated to the perverted principles they are following.

Today’s generation of young American warriors is facing multiple deployments onto the battlefield in Afghanistan and other places — some of which are undisclosed. Four Army Special Forces troops died recently in Niger, bringing into the open a deployment few Americans knew was under way.

I long have saluted my father for his contribution to fighting tyranny during World War II. I am proud of what he did as a sailor who saw more than his share of combat in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations.

I also want to salute other members of my family who’ve thrust themselves into harm’s way during the current war against international terror. My cousin served multiple Army tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have a nephew who drove an Army tank into Iraq when that war broke out in March 2003; he would return to Iraq for a second tour.

The war on terror just might be a conflict that has no end. There might not be any way for the United States to declare total victory as this country was able to do in 1945. The enemy surrendered unconditionally, giving The Greatest Generation of Americans its ticket home.

Can we achieve a similar end to the current war? I am trying to imagine how that gets done.

Meantime, the current generation keeps fighting. These young Americans have earned their status as the newest Greatest Generation.

I am proud of them beyond measure.

Will the president recognize his Afghan reversal?

Donald John Trump is preparing to speak to the nation tonight about Afghanistan. The word that’s being reported is that the president is planning to announce the addition of several thousand more troops to the conflict that’s been raging for the past 16 years.

The president is getting high marks for recognizing the difference between campaigning and governing. Indeed, President Barack Obama campaigned for office pledging to close the terrorist internment camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; the camp is still open.

Trump has been a huuuuge critic of the Afghan War. He tweeted repeatedly prior to and during his presidential campaign that the war is a lost cause, that we shouldn’t shed any more American blood in Afghanistan.

Now he’s the commander in chief. He’s expected now to say something quite different from what he said while campaigning for the job.

Will the president take a moment tonight to acknowledge that maybe — just maybe — he might have been incorrect in his prior world view? Might he concede finally that he didn’t see the picture as completely as he does now?

That’s what grownups do. They atone for previous statements.

What’s more, my hope — if not my expectation — is that the president will accept responsibility for any potential setbacks that occur once the troops are deployed to Afghanistan. Will he, as commander in chief, realize that he is ultimately responsible for any result stemming from the decisions he makes — be they good or bad?

The record to this point doesn’t portend much maturity coming from the president.

I hope I am wrong.

Good vs. evil ‘has nothing to do with religion’

Great day in the morning! Could it be that the Trump administration finally is awakening to the reality of what this “global war on terrorism” is all about?

Donald J. Trump stood before a large room full of Muslim heads of state, potentates, kings and crown princes and spoke for 35 minutes without uttering the words “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Instead, he framed the fight against international terror in much the same language used by his two immediate predecessors — Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack H. Obama — as a war of “good vs. evil.”

Then up stepped Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to say that the conflict between our side and the other side “has nothing to do with religion.”

Really! He said that. He echoed the long-awaited and much-belated message the president delivered.

I hope hell hasn’t frozen over. I hope Earth will continue to spin on its axis. I trust the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning — and beyond.


“And I think the context of all of this where the President begins his journey here at the home of the Muslim faith under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque – this great faith, the Muslims – then to travel to the home of Judaism and then to the great leader of Christianity, that the President is clearly indicating that this fight of good against evil has nothing to do with religion,” Tillerson said in a press conference after the president’s speech.

Trump and his team have sounded alarmingly bellicose ever since the billionaire business mogul entered politics by running for the presidency. He once pledged to ban “all Muslims” from entering the United States. While running for office, Trump said “Islam hates America.” Once elected, he sought to impose a travel ban on refugees fleeing certain Muslim countries; that effort is tied up in the federal court system that has ruled it unconstitutional.

Today, the president sounded quite different as it regards this war against terror.

The religious perversion that has overcome the monsters who purport to be Muslim too often gets lost in the United States. Too many Americans have taken the bait that “Islam” is the enemy. It is no such thing. The enemy are those who commit these heinous acts around the world — mostly against Muslims — in the name of a great religion.

President Bush made that point immediately after 9/11. President Obama continued to recite that mantra, often to criticism that he was a “Muslim terrorist sympathizer.”

I doubt we’ll hear any such fecal matter coming from those who continue to support Donald John Trump. Nor should we ever have heard it.

French fight back against fear

Is there a lesson to be learned from the French presidential election?


It is that terror need not sway an informed electorate.

Moderate centrist Emmanuel Macron today became the youngest person ever elected president of France, defeating far-right extremist Marine Le Pen. It was Le Pen who sought to parlay certain elements of fright into an electoral victory. The source of that fear and loathing was the spasm of terrorist violence that has befallen France since 9/11.

France answers the call

Macron sought a different course for France. He wants to keep his country involved with the rest of Europe and the world, unlike Le Pen, who sought to retreat into a “France-first” dogma that mirrors much of what helped propel Donald J. Trump to victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Trump called for a ban on Muslims seeking to enter the United States; he wants to build that wall along our southern border; he is seeking to restrict travel of refugees fleeing several majority-Muslim countries. Why? Because he wants Americans to live in fear of further terrorist attacks.

The French know all about the horror of radical Islamic terrorism. Yet they rejected Le Pen’s platform of retreat.

And if you think about it, France’s decision to go with Macron mirrors earlier presidential elections in The Netherlands and Austria, where voters turned back isolationist presidential candidacies in favor of continued engagement.

I wrote in an earlier blog about how the paltry voter turnout in Amarillo shouldn’t be interpreted as a “mandate” for sweeping change at City Hall.

Get a load of this: Seventy-four percent of France’s registered voters turned out to give Macron a 30-percentage-point victory over Le Pen.

I would call that a mandate.

One person’s ‘serious mistake’ is OK; another deserves to be ‘locked up’


I’m trying to keep all this straight. Man, it’s a struggle.

David Petraeus, a retired U.S. Army general and former head of the CIA, admitted to sharing classified information with his mistress. He paid a hefty price politically for it; he resigned as the nation’s top spook.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, while serving as secretary of state, used a personal e-mail server. She was accused by her political foes of letting classified information get out where it shouldn’t belong. She lost the presidential election amid calls from Donald J. Trump, the man who defeated her, that she should be jailed for unspecified and unproven allegations of wrongdoing.

Petraeus, though, is now being considered for secretary of state by the very same man — Donald Trump — who said Clinton needed to be tossed into the slammer.

What gives?

I don’t doubt Petraeus’s tremendous service to the country while he wore the Army uniform. He commanded our fighting personnel in this difficult struggle against international terror organizations.


I am just having difficulty processing how one person can admit to doing something illegal but still be considered for high office and other one can be only accused by her political opponents of breaking the law and be scorned.

Say it again, Trump: ISIS is ‘winning’ … seriously?


Abu Muhammad al-Adnani is dead — reportedly.

Who is this guy, Adnani? Oh, he’s the No. 2 man in the Islamic State hierarchy. He’s one of the founders of ISIS. He’s believed to be the mastermind behind the recent terrorist attack in Paris.

Adnani apparently bought it in Aleppo, Syria, according to ISIS’s media arm.


This is a big deal, man. A real big deal, in fact.

It’s not clear yet how Adnani was killed. Was it an air strike by a manned jet fighter with an American or allied pilot at the stick? Was it by a drone strike?

Does this mean the end of the Islamic State? No.

However, it suggests — presuming Adnani’s death can be confirmed — that ISIS is in serious trouble.

Why mention this today? Well, we keep hearing from Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, that ISIS is “winning,” that U.S. forces can’t defeat this Islamic terrorist organization because the commander in chief, Barack Obama, refuses to link the terror organization to the religion it purports to represent.

Let’s review for a brief moment.

Osama bin Laden is dead; drone strikes have taken out al-Qaeda and ISIS leaders throughout the Middle East; our special operations forces — Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force commandos and CIA operatives — are on the hunt constantly for the terrorist monsters.

We’re killing bad guys almost daily.

When we take out leaders of the Islamic State brain trust — such as Abu Muhammad al-Adnani — that’s a really big deal.

The fight will go on. Can we declare victory yet? Of course not. It is my sense, though, that we’re a lot closer to that moment than we were on 9/11.

Newt proposes going to war against Islam


President George W. Bush stood firm and resolute in the days after 9/11 and declared — without equivocation — that America would not go to war “against Islam.”

Our enemy, he told a grief-stricken nation, are the religious perverts who acted in the name of a mainstream religion.

Then we went to war against terrorists.

President Barack Obama came into office eight years later and said the same thing. He has followed through on President Bush’s declaration. Yet those who condemn Barack Obama’s strategy choose to ignore the war policies enacted by his immediate predecessor in the White House.

So, what does a one-time congressional leader and former candidate for president of the United States want to do? He wants to go to war against Islam. Newt Gingrich said last night the nation needs to apply “tests” to Muslims to determine if they believe in Sharia law, which he said is incompatible with “western civilization.”

The former speaker of the House has given the radical Islamists a lead-pipe-cinch recruitment tool. He has just delivered to them all the evidence many of the terrorists need to justify their jihad against the United States and our many allies around the world.

Two presidents — one Republican and one Democrat — who’ve been up to their armpits in this on-going war against radical Islamic terrorists have laid down an important marker that Newt Gingrich has declared no longer matters.

Suffice to say, at least, that Newt no longer is in a position to turn his shrill rhetoric into public policy.

Thank goodness, at least, for that reality.

Terrorist tragedy hits France yet again


France and its heroic citizens are grieving yet again.

This time the terrorist — or terrorists — employed a new and ghastly method of delivering death and destruction.

It came tonight in the form of a truck that plowed into a crowd of revelers celebrating Bastille Day, which is France’s independence day.

As I am writing this brief blog post, the death count stands at 80. Officials, though, think that number will increase.


The world is shocked and in grief over the tragedy that struck in Nice.

World leaders are issuing the appropriate expressions of condemnation.

What now?

It’s not yet clear whether the driver of the truck was from the Islamic State or al-Qaeda. Officials can’t ask him, because French police opened fire on the vehicle and killed the driver in the hail of bullets.

My sense is that we’ll know pretty damn soon just who this guy was and for which organization he was working — if it turns out he was a terrorist agent.

U.S. officials earlier today confirmed that Omar the Chechen indeed was killed this past spring in a U.S.-led attack on ISIS forces in Iraq. No one, quite naturally, believes Omar the Chechen’s death spells the end of ISIS, given that he was a top-tier commander of the terrorist organization.

This is the kind of “war” the world is fighting against these radical Islamist monsters. They attack so-called “soft targets,” causing uncontrollable fear among their victims. Is it at all possible to detect every single attack before it occurs?

As we’ve learned to our horror once again, the world is fighting a cunning and ruthless enemy.

What’s more, the world has received yet another stern lesson on the need to hit the terrorists hard — and keep hitting them hard for as long as it takes.