Tag Archives: Osama bin Laden

9/11 reminds me why I am glad we left

The commemorations we have witnessed today as the nation marks the 20th year since the 9/11 attacks have taken us — in my mind at least — on a dual-track remembrance.

I am reminded of how unified we were immediately after the attacks. President Bush called us to arms to fight the terrorist network that launched the attack. We stood behind the wartime president … for a time.

Then he took us into Iraq. The Iraq War was launched on false pretenses. We invaded a sovereign nation, removed a hated dictator and then got bogged down in another conflict with no clear motive for engaging the Iraqis in the first place.

We took our eyes off the key enemy: the Afghan terrorists.

President Bush infamously said at one point during his time in office he didn’t think much about Osama bin Laden. His successor, President Obama, made it the nation’s mission to bring justice to the mass murderer. Our special forces did so in May 2011.

Yet the war in Afghanistan dragged on.

And on and on …

Which brings me to the second track. President Biden ended that war. I am more glad today than ever that he acted when he did. It is true the withdrawal could have been executed more cleanly. But our troops are off the battlefield.

We have removed the world of thousands of terrorists. No, they aren’t exterminated. Others have stepped up to replace them. Indeed, the Afghan War had turned into a never-ending struggle against an enemy that cannot possibly be wiped off the face of the planet.

However, we retain — throughout unsurpassed military and intelligence capability — the ability to search out and destroy anyone who intends to do us harm the way Osama bin Laden did on 9/11.

May always remember the attacks of that horrific day. May we also always remain alert to the danger that lurks.

However, let us also avoid the kind of quagmire — and that’s what it became in Afghanistan — that always exacts too heavy a price.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We are changed forever

We know where we were and what we were doing when we got the word 20 years ago today … correct?

On that landmark Tuesday morning I was sitting at my desk at work in Amarillo, Texas. A young man with whom I worked on the editorial page of the Globe-News, came to work, stuck his head in the door and said, “Did you hear the news? A plan flew into the World Trade Center.”

That’s about all Dave Henry knew at the moment. I asked him about the weather. It was sunny and clear in New York, Henry said. My first thought was that a moron had flown the plane into the WTC by mistake.

I turned on the mini-TV I kept in my office. The “Today” show came on and a few minutes later, all hell broke loose as the second plane flew into the other WTC tower. We heard later that morning about the Pentagon and then about the crash in Shanksville, Pa.

Terrorists had hijacked four jetliners intending to do serious harm to this nation. They succeeded perhaps beyond the wildest dreams of the mastermind, Osama bin Laden, who would be delivered justice a decade later by special operations forces sent to kill him by President Obama.

I don’t know what lessons we learned from that horrifying event. I can think of only one constructive lesson, which is that terrorism is a threat that cannot be extinguished. It will lurk in the evil souls of individuals for as long as they exist among us. The lesson will be that we must maintain the highest level of alert. Always and forever.

They paid tribute this morning in our North Texas community to the lives lost and the heroism displayed by firefighters, police officers, first responders and those passengers who fought the terrorists before crashing the plan in Pennsylvania.

They lowered the flag to half-staff at the Princeton Fire Department Station No. 3, the newest such station in our city. The ceremony was brief, but poignant. We learned about a firefighter who died in NYC on 9/11, Anthony Rodriguez, whose sister lives in Princeton and that the fire station we visited this morning was built in his memory.

The ceremony was brief. Our hearts will remain broken for as long as we remember the events of that day and the war that followed for two decades after the attack.

Mostly, though, I choose to salute the brave men and women — such as Anthony Rodriguez — who ran into the flames.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Did we not prep the Afghan army well?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

As the world watches the Afghan War lurch forward to what looks like a tragic ending, I cannot get past a thought that has been troubling me since the Taliban began their march toward reasserting control over a country it ruled with ruthlessness and depravity.

My thought is this: What in the world did we do to prepare the Afghan armed forces to cope with the onslaught they are facing? 

We arrived on the battlefield not long after 9/11. President Bush ordered our forces into battle to rid the world of al-Qaeda. We succeeded in removing the Taliban from power then after the terror organization had given their fellow terrorists safe haven from which to attack the United States on 9/11.

President Bush left office in January 2009 and President Obama then ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda mastermind; the SEALs and CIA operatives did the deed on May 1,, 2011.

President Obama left office in January 2017 and Donald J. Trump took over. The fight continued.

Trump left office in January 2021 and now we have President Biden on the watch. Through all those previous administrations, there had been an understanding — or so many of us believed — that our forces were on call to do two things: to engage the enemy on the field and to train and equip the Afghans to take over the fight when we were finished.

Biden adds forces for Afghan evacuation, defends withdrawal decision (msn.com)

President Biden made the call to end our involvement there. We began pulling troops out. The Taliban went on the march. The Afghan military has done a terrible job of defending their country. Reports from the field suggest that regular army troops aren’t fighting, that the bulk of the resistance is coming from militia forces.

We spent tens of billions of dollars training these forces to do something that was expected of them. To defend their nation against a savage enemy. They appear to be failing in that mission.

Do we return in full force? No! We must not! I happen to endorse the decision to leave the Afghanistan battlefield. I am aghast at the slipshod way it is occurring. President Biden is deploying 5,000 additional U.S. troops to assist in the evacuation of Americans and our allies, to get out of harm’s way.

But … my goodness. I am troubled by the lack of effort reportedly being shown by the armed forces we supposedly prepared to defend their nation.

I want our young men and women to come home as much as the next person. However, it saddens me terribly to believe we spent two decades fighting and dying for a nation that is unable — or unwilling — to defend itself.

Bin Laden raid, plus 10

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My goodness, has it really been 10 years since our special operations guys killed the world’s most wanted man and most despicable terrorist?

Yep. Time does fly.

Oh, how I remember where I was when the world heard the news about the death of Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind and al-Qaeda leader.

We were in our Amarillo, Texas, living room that night watching a bit of prime-time TV. Then we got word of a pending announcement from the White House. Hmm. I thought, “Hey, this is Sunday. What in the world are they going to announce on a Sunday night?” Then it dawned on me. I turned to my wife and I said, “I think they got bin Laden!”

It had been nearly a decade since the 9/11 attack. Three jetliners flew into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A fourth airplane crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers fought with the terrorists. That day is seared in our national memory. I can barely watch to this day the footage of the WTC towers burning and then collapsing.

As for bin Laden’s death and the skill of the Navy SEALs, the CIA commandos and the Army Delta Force pilots that night remain equally seared in my memory.

I recall vividly the sight of President Obama striding to the podium that evening to deliver the news and to assure the world that the fight against those who followed bin Laden’s perversion will continue. The president told us later in a “60 Minutes” interview that the first person he called once he knew our forces had cleared Pakistani airspace was President Bush, on whose watch the 9/11 attack occurred. Obama gave appropriate credit to the diligence of our anti-terror network that had worked since the attack and eventually found bin Laden.

Although bin Laden is dead, the network he led is still alive, although it has been significantly downgraded in the years since our special forces killed bin Laden. The fight has gone on since that raid, beyond the Obama administration. Indeed, the Trump administration also had a hand in wiping out the terrorists’ high command when it sent forces in to kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State.

The fight must go on, even as the Biden administration prepares to remove the last of our troops from Afghanistan, where they were dispatched immediately after the 9/11 attacks to take down the Taliban government that gave bin Laden’s goons the safe harbor from which they plotted their attack against us.

I want to mark this date, though, as one that demonstrates the enormous skill of our military and intelligence forces who — when given the order to do the seemingly impossible — answered the call.

Transition proves tough

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The transition from the presidency of Donald John Trump to Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has proved tougher than I anticipated.

From a blogger’s standpoint, Trump kept me energized damn near daily with commentary to offer; Biden, meanwhile, is essentially keeping a low center of gravity … which I am certain is a good thing.

I am left, then, to think of what kind of former presidency awaits the 45th White House occupant. How does this guy spend his remaining time on Earth? Will he bask in the reflected glory of having served a single term as president? Or will he continue to live under the ruse of the Big Lie that he keeps telling, the one about alleged electoral thievery by the guy who beat him?

There might come a time when the former presidents gather in one place. It might a funeral for one of them. It might be an event that President Biden decides to host that calls on his predecessors to attend. What might that be? Let’s see, we’ll be commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11 later this year. There might be an event at the White House or the Pentagon, or at the World Trade Center in Manhattan that compels the former presidents to show up.

Surely we would see Presidents Bush and Obama there, yes? I mean, 9/11 occurred on Bush’s watch and Obama approved the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. President Clinton is no stranger to comforting a nation grieving over tragedy, which he did after the Oklahoma City bombing. President Carter’s health might not allow him to be there.

What about Donald Trump? Does he get invited to attend such an event?

I am thinking he is going to live out his days as an outcast from this exclusive club of former U.S. commanders in chief. It doesn’t matter one damn bit to me whether he ever rehabilitates himself sufficiently to be welcomed back, or whether he would even feel suited to accept an invitation, were one to be extended.

There might come a day when these thoughts won’t invade my skull. Man, I hope it gets here in a hurry.

Obama weighing in — finally! — on the 2020 election

Barack Hussein Obama is speaking out, labeling Donald John Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as “chaotic,” and criticizing the Justice Department decision to forgo prosecuting an admitted perjurer.

So, you might ask: What is a former president doing here? Isn’t it “normal” for a president to remain quiet about how his successor is doing? Sure it’s normal. Indeed, President Obama has been quiet.

Except for this: Donald Trump keeps invoking his immediate predecessor’s name, criticizing his policies and declaring — mostly without justification — that he has fixed the things that Obama got wrong.

A leaked phone call to a group called the Obama Alumni Association has the former president describing Trump’s response to pandemic as “chaotic” because Trump has been too preoccupied with “what’s in it for me?” rather than fixating on the problem and the suffering of his fellow Americans. Obama also is going all-in for Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee and vows to work as hard as he can to ensure Biden’s election this fall.

I normally would take some alarm at a former president playing such an active role in a campaign involving his immediate successor. However, Trump — as I have noted — brought all this on himself by continually seeking to denigrate the service that Obama rendered during his two terms as president.

A quick review: Obama inherited an economy in free fall; he pushed Congress to enact stimulus packages to rescue the economy; the nation began a 10-year job-growth climb; he ordered the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden; the State Department negotiated a deal to deny Iran access to nuclear weapons; he reduced the annual federal budget deficit by two-thirds; he handed Trump a robust economy.

Trump, though, doesn’t see it that way. So he keeps seeking to criticize Obama.

Now it appears that it’s game on for the former president.

Hey, I don’t hide my affection for the former president and my disdain for the current clown masquerading as president. Thus, if the current White House occupant wants to invoke President Obama’s name continually, well … bring it. I’m quite sure Barack Obama can find plenty more to say in response.

Heroic admiral sounds the alarm

Yes, Admiral William McRaven,  I am afraid. I am quite afraid now at the actions of our commander in chief.

Your op-ed in the Washington Post ought to be read by all Americans. Many of us are alarmed at the actions of Donald John Trump since his acquittal in that U.S. Senate impeachment trial.

I get what you wrote, that Trump’s firing of the director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, because he did his duty in informing members of Congress is a clarion call of alarm to all of us. Maguire wanted to blow the whistle on Russian interference on our 2020 election, just as they did in 2016. Trump reacted not out of concern for the integrity of our electoral system, but out of worry that the revelation would harm him politically.

So, yes, your description of Trump’s huge ego jeopardizing our national security is spot on!

As Newsweek.com reported: “Over the course of the past three years, I have watched good men and women, friends of mine, come and go in the Trump administration—all trying to do something—all trying to do their best,” wrote McRaven, who in 2011 oversaw and orchestrated the Navy SEAL raid in which Osama Bin Laden was killed. He later wrote, “But, of course, in this administration, good men and women don’t last long.”

No, sir, good men and women don’t last long. That’s because this president wants to surround himself only with those who profess unqualified loyalty to him. Their oaths to the Constitution or to the greater national good do not matter to this guy, the president.

But you know that already, admiral.

I admire your service. I salute you. I honor you. I welcome that you have spoken out. You, sir, have credibility that few other Trump critics possess. It is born of your service as a SEAL and the heroism you displayed on the battlefield and the leadership you showed in directing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Thank you for your service and thank you also for lending your important voice to this important debate over the fitness of Donald Trump to serve as our president.

Support the strike; question the strategy

I want to be crystal clear, with no ambiguity about the events that resulted in the death of a bloodthirsty terrorist.

I support fully the air strike that killed Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. No American I can think of is mourning the death of this individual. Indeed, politicians of all stripes are hailing the killer’s death.

What troubles me are the questions that are emerging about whether Donald Trump ordered the strike with a clear post-strike strategy in mind. I am developing growing doubt that the president had thought it out thoroughly.

Yes, the critics have emerged on the Democratic side of the congressional aisle. They were left out of the loop. Congressional leaders say they weren’t informed of the plan to hit Suleimani prior to the attack occurring. They want Congress to authorize any military action that might occur in the event Iran retaliates.

I, too, am concerned about all of that.

We also need to get real about one more important aspect of this raid. The death of Suleimani does not mean the end of the Revolutionary Guard. The Guard also already has elevated his deputy to top of the its chain of command.

Remember, too, that the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden did not extinguish al-Qaeda. Nor did the mission this past year that took out Abu Bakr al Baghdadi eliminate the Islamic State. The terror organizations are continuing their bloody campaigns against Muslims and against U.S. forces that are still fighting them on the battlefield.

It all arcs back to the most riveting question of the “global war on terror.” How will we be able to declare victory? My hunch is that we are engaging in a war with no end.

As for the death of this latest murderer, I am glad he is dead.

However, we now must be prepared to deal with the consequences.

It was right to toss al-Baghdadi’s corpse into the drink

The head of U.S. Central Command, Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, has told us that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “buried at sea” after Army Delta Force commandos completed their mission to take him out.

I guess I should accept the notion that the military personnel charged with disposing of the Islamic State founder’s remains did so with a modicum of respect. I mean, he didn’t show any respect to those victims he killed over his many years leading the hideous terrorist organization. Thus, he didn’t deserve the respect that Central Command reportedly gave his remains.

However, it was a prudent call to dispose of this individual’s corpse in the fashion that our military did. There would be no way in the world that we should bury him in the ground and create a shrine that would attract Islamic perverts to draw strength from being near his remains.

U.S. forces disposed of Osama bin Laden in the same manner after Navy SEALs killed him in May 2011. They hauled his remains out of the compound where the SEALs found him, took him to the USS Carl Vinson and then sent his body into the drink where it was likely consumed by undersea creatures.

I am going to presume that al-Baghdadi’s remains will meet the same fate. That’s fine with me.

Although it does anger me that these terrorist monsters likely got the respectful treatment they never accorded to their own victims. Whatever. They’re both dead. That’s the best part of how these stories have ended.

Trump ‘spikes the football’ in announcing terror leader’s death

I did not intend to venture down this alley, but now that I have given it some thought …

Donald Trump’s announcement of the death of Islamic State mastermind Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi contained language that seemed, well, more than a bit over the top.

Delta Force special operations commandos launched a raid overnight that resulted in al-Baghdadi’s death. The commander in chief tweeted a message about “something really big” happening and then this morning went on TV to tell the world that al-Baghdadi is dead.

However, the president went much farther than merely telling us about the bravery and precision of our special forces. He talked about how al-Baghdadi “died like a dog,” how he was a “coward,” how he was whimpering and sobbing before he detonated the suicide vest strapped to his body.

So I am left to wonder: Why did Donald Trump feel the need to prance and preen over the death of a monster? Why did he spike the proverbial football and seemingly gloat over the mission he authorized?

According to Time.com: Trump was doing more than running down an adversary; he was actively trying to break the spell al-Baghdadi holds over his followers, says a White House official. “He felt it was important to mock this guy,” the official says, adding that Trump wanted to “rub in everybody’s face that this guy was killing and ordering rape of thousands of people and at the end of the day blew himself up with his three kids rather than fight.”

Make no mistake. I applaud the decision to launch the mission. The president could have chosen other options that carried less risk to our special forces. He chose instead to rely on the extraordinary skill of our soldiers who carried out the mission with extraordinary precision and professionalism.

I am thinking at this moment of the evening of May 1, 2011 when President Barack Obama told the world of the SEAL mission that killed Osama bin Laden. He spoke for about 9 minutes. He told us bin Laden was dead; he hailed the men who conducted the mission; he heaped praise on our intelligence team that toiled for many years over two administrations to find bin Laden; he offered words of comfort to the friends and loved ones of the 3,000 people who died on 9/11. He asked for God’s blessing on the United States of America and then walked away from the microphone.

Trump didn’t do that this morning. He went into extraordinary detail about what he perceived about al-Baghdadi’s final moments on Earth.

The president seemed — if you’ll pardon my use of the term — to “glorify” the circumstances of al-Baghdadi’s death.

It was unbecoming. It was, oh, let’s see, so very un-presidential.