Tag Archives: war on terrorism

American Taliban is out … oh, how I wish he wasn’t

John Walker Lindh became known as the American Taliban. He decided in 2000 to convert to a form of Islam, then joined the terrorists in Afghanistan.

Then came the 9/11 terror attack and the start of our war against terrorism. Lindh got captured early in that fight, was charged with crimes relating to his involvement with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, convicted and sentenced to 20 years in a federal prison.

He walked out of that lockup in Terre Haute, Ind., today. He will live in northern Virginia.

Has this lunatic disavowed his radical views? Apparently not!

That is what makes his release so troublesome, at least to me.

He got out of prison a bit early because he behaved himself while behind bars. Lindh was known to read the Quran daily. He prayed per Islamic tradition. Lindh was 22 years of age when he was captured.

He reportedly also has made pro-Islamic State statements while in prison. Still, the feds decided to turn this guy loose three years before the end of his term?

He was accused initially of a host of crimes related to the uprising in Afghanistan in which he participated, but worked out some sort of a deal in exchange for the 20-year prison term he received.

The feds have put some constraints on Lindh, trying to ensure they keep an eye on him. I’m going to presume he will be unable to leave the country and rejoin his Taliban pals. He also will be disallowed from having any non-English-language telecommunications equipment and his Internet use will be monitored carefully.

There’s just something about this story that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

I hope the federal authorities keep all eyes wide open on this guy and watch his every move.

Our nation will survive — and flourish

Make no mistake about it: I am alarmed at the accelerating crisis in Washington, D.C.

Some Republican lawmakers, such as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, might believe that “no one outside the D.C. Beltway cares” about Russia and Donald J. Trump’s alleged involvement with the nation’s pre-eminent adversary. I, though, do care about it. So do millions of other Americans, senator; you’re just not listening to us.

Does my alarm extend to my fear for the resilience of this system of government of ours? No. Not for an instant.

I remain an eternal optimist that we’ll get through all of this, no matter what the special counsel’s report reveals to us. Robert Mueller could exonerate the president of any wrongdoing. Or he could lay out a smorgasbord of questions that call into fact-based suspicion about the president’s fitness for the job.

Whatever happens, I feel compelled to remind us all that this country has survived equally serious — and more serious — crises throughout our history. We endured the Civil War; we engaged in two worldwide wars; we also endured a Great Depression; we have watched our political leaders gunned down by assassins; Americans have rioted in the streets to protest warfare; we witnessed a constitutional crisis bring down a president who resigned in disgrace; we have entered an interminable war against international terrorism.

Through it all we survived. The nation pulled itself together. It dusted itself off. It collected its breath. It analyzed what went wrong. The nation mobilized.

Our leaders have sought to unite us against common enemies. We responded.

Here we are. The special counsel is preparing — I hope — to conclude a lengthy investigation. There have been deeply troubling questions about the president’s conduct. One way or another I expect the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to answer those questions. They might not be to everyone’s satisfaction. Indeed, I can guarantee that the findings will split Americans between those who support the president and those (of us) who oppose him.

But we’re going to get through it. We might be bloodied and bruised. It might take some time to heal.

It’s going to happen.

The founders knew what they were doing when they crafted a government that they might have known — even then — would face the level of crisis it is facing today.

How we do know when we have ‘won’?

Donald Trump sought to offer a new strategy for the Afghan War.

The president told us he intends to base our strategy on “conditions” rather than on “time.” We’re going to fight the Afghan War until conditions on the ground tell us we can disengage and that we’re no longer going to give our enemies advance notice of when we intend to stop shooting.

Fine, Mr. President.

I need to ask him, though, a question that has nagged me ever since we entered this war back in 2001: How are we going to know when we have “won” this conflict?

The war against international terrorism has established an entirely new benchmark from which our military strategists must work. They cannot keep beating the enemy on the battlefield and then simply declare victory. Terrorists have this way of receding into the darkness and then striking when we least expect it.

The Afghan War is being waged against Taliban and Islamic State terrorists who continue to resist at every turn. Al-Qaeda has been effectively wiped out in Afghanistan; indeed, it was al-Qaeda’s attack on this country on 9/11 that launched the war. Although that terrorist organization has been decimated in Afghanistan, it has plenty of other locations that will give it “safe haven” from which it can strike back — eventually.

The president has indicated that more troops are heading into Afghanistan. We’re going to send fighting men and women directly onto the battlefield, where they will work closely with Afghan troops.

The president was more correct in his assessment of the fight while he was running for office. He called it a hopeless and futile endeavor. I won’t agree with that entirely. My version of a better outcome would involve stepping up our training capability to ensure that the Afghan armed forces can defend their country effectively — without further on-site help from Americans.

Does this mean we stop fighting? Does it mean we simply give up, surrender and return Afghanistan to the bad guys? No. This fight is as complicated and complex as it gets. I am simply leery of any notion that we’ll ever know for certain when and how we can declare victory.

‘Deep reservations’ about all-volunteer military


Secretary of State John Kerry has broached a subject that is sure to get many Americans riled up.

He said during a symposium about the Vietnam War that he has “deep reservations” about our nation’s reliance on an all-volunteer fighting force.

Is he calling for a return of the draft? No. He’s not going that far. Indeed, show me a politician who does so and I’ll show you a politician who’s likely on his or her way out of office.

But this man does know a few things about combat, about sacrifice and about shared responsibility.

He was a Navy officer during the Vietnam War. Kerry came from that war and became a leader in the effort end that conflict.


What was Kerry’s major point about his appearance at the LBJ School of Public Administration at the University of Texas-Austin? “Don’t confuse the war with the warrior.”

That, sadly, is what many Americans did as they lashed out at the policies that caused so much dissension here at home. The blamed the young Americans who were following lawful orders.

That terrible time helped contribute to the end of military conscription.

More than 40 years later, the nation has been fighting wars on multiple fronts with young men and women who have served multiple tours of duty. They serve, return home and then go back into the combat theater. Again and again they go.

Some of them pay the ultimate price during those redeployments.

Kerry has asked a pertinent question: Are enough Americans buying into our nation’s commitment to fighting this war against international terrorism?

Indeed, the all-volunteer force — while still the deadliest fighting force in the world — has put tremendous strain on the young Americans who keep answering the call to thrust themselves back into harm’s way.

Is it time to force more Americans to share in this fight?

Let’s have this discussion.


No 'mistakes were made' apology

President Obama has taken full responsibility for the deaths of two hostages that had been held by al-Qaeda terrorists.

For that he deserves credit.


A drone strike in January targeted some terrorist leaders. Two men, one American and one Italian, also died in the strike.

The American was Warren Weinstein, an aid worker; the Italian was Giovanni Lo Porto. They had been captured by terrorists and, sadly, became the unintended victims of a strike aimed at killing enemies of the United States. The strike did kill some al-Qaeda leaders, but the president today had to own up to the deaths of the hostages.

“I realize there are no words that can ever equal their loss,” said Obama, who spoke with Weinstein’s wife and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

The deaths of the two men perhaps say more about the nature of their captives than about the intelligence capabilities that preceded the drone strike. Obama said the best intelligence gathered indicated the hostages weren’t present in the target area.

One of the al-Qaeda leaders killed in the strike were two Americans, Ahmed Farouq and Adam Gadahn, who were described as leaders for the terror network.

And that brings to mind another matter for which the United States should not apologize: the killing of Americans who align themselves with enemies of their country. Farouq and Gadahn reportedly were not specific targets of the drone strike — to which I would ask: So what if they were?

We’ve killed other Americans who’ve defected to terror organizations and the U.S. government need not apologize for those deaths, either. Those former Americans have all but renounced their citizenship by the mere act of joining these ghastly terrorist cults.

It’s been maddeningly common over the years to hear government officials hide behind that passive-voice “mistakes were made” admission of responsibility. The problem with that kind of delivery is that it absolves individuals or specific organizations of any blame — if it is warranted — for the act that occurred.

We did not hear that today, which is to the credit of a president who isn’t hiding behind rhetorical trickery.