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Category Archives: al-Qaeda

Is it just me, or is the Tea Party’s religiosity a strange ecumenical brew? They seem to be oddly fundamentalist in their rhetoric yet very reluctant to see any problem with an elder in the LDS church (a Christian cult that espouses that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers) being their anointed spokesman. They also seem hellbent to see no discernible difference between moderate Islam rec centers and Jihadist al-Qaeda terrorist camps. So very weird. An unrelenting broadness that masquerades as narrowness. It just gets curiouser and curiouser.

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The neo cons have a charmingly parochial view of the world. They believe that if we simply occupy more countries and build more bridges (right after we blow them up), we can defuse radical Islamic jihad and spread democracy. No more 9-11s. No more terrorism. All it takes is enough troops. The trouble is that the U.S. army apparently can’t even take an American-born Muslim, pay for his education and train him to use a gun and win his particular heart and mind to the American Way. Is there something about our view of the world and the Muslim view of the world that is fundamentally irreconcilable? Nahhh, that makes far too much sense.

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Prosecuting the war on terror has always required a steely resolve, a heart of courage and a complete disregard for history, facts or anything approaching reality. It is a shame that the Nobel Prize committee can’t cough up a Nobel War prize. John McCain and the neo cons would be shoo ins.   Frank Rich of the New York Times explains:

Perhaps the most surreal aspect of our great Afghanistan debate is the Beltway credence given to the ravings of the unrepenant blunderers who dug us into this hole in the first place.

Let’s be clear: Those who demanded that America divert its troops and treasure from Afghanistan to Iraq in 2002 and 2003 — when there was no Qaeda presence in Iraq — bear responsibility for the chaos in Afghanistan that ensued. Now they have the nerve to imperiously and tardily demand that America increase its 68,000-strong presence in Afghanistan to clean up their mess — even though the number of Qaeda insurgents there has dwindled to fewer than 100, according to the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones.

But why let facts get in the way? Just as these hawks insisted that Iraq was “the central front in the war on terror” when the central front was Afghanistan, so they insist that Afghanistan is the central front now that it has migrated to Pakistan. When the day comes for them to anoint Pakistan as the central front, it will be proof positive that Al Qaeda has consolidated its hold on Somalia and Yemen.

To appreciate this crowd’s spotless record of failure, consider its noisiest standard-bearer, John McCain. He made every wrong judgment call that could be made after 9/11. It’s not just that he echoed the Bush administration’s constant innuendos that Iraq collaborated with Al Qaeda’s attack on America. Or that he hyped the faulty W.M.D. evidence to the hysterical extreme of fingering Iraq for the anthrax attacks in Washington. Or that he promised we would win the Iraq war “easily.” Or that he predicted that the Sunnis and the Shiites would “probably get along” in post-Saddam Iraq because there was “not a history of clashes” between them.

What’s more mortifying still is that McCain was just as wrong about Afghanistan and Pakistan. He routinely minimized or dismissed the growing threats in both countries over the past six years, lest they draw American resources away from his pet crusade in Iraq.

Two years after 9/11 he was claiming that we could “in the long term” somehow “muddle through” in Afghanistan. (He now has the chutzpah to accuse President Obama of wanting to “muddle through” there.) Even after the insurgency accelerated in Afghanistan in 2005, McCain was still bragging about the “remarkable success” of that prematurely abandoned war. In 2007, some 15 months after the Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf signed a phony “truce” ceding territory on the Afghanistan border to terrorists, McCain gave Musharraf a thumb’s up. As a presidential candidate in the summer of 2008, McCain cared so little about Afghanistan it didn’t even merit a mention among the national security planks on his campaign Web site

…Americans, meanwhile, want to see the fine print after eight years of fiasco with little accounting. While McCain and company remain frozen where they were in 2001, many of their fellow citizens have learned from the Iraq tragedy. Polls persistently find that the country is skeptical about what should and can be accomplished in Afghanistan. They voted for Obama not least because they wanted a new post-9/11 vision of national security, and they will not again be so easily bullied by the blustering hawks’ doomsday scenarios. That gives our deliberating president both the time and the political space to get this long war’s second act right.

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Obama goes to the Egypt. Bin Laden comes out of the woodwork.

The al-Qaeda leader’s remarks, aired on Wednesday by Al Jazeera television, came a day after comments by his deputy who described Mr Obama as a criminal and warned Muslims not to fall for his polished words.

Their statements marked a concerted al-Qaeda propaganda drive to pre-empt a major speech to the Muslim world that the US president is due to deliver in Egypt on Thursday.

“Obama and his administration have planted seeds for hatred and revenge against America,” the Saudi-born bin Laden said in the audio recording.

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Bin Laden and company are sure going to miss Bush. He was the poster child for al-Qaeda recruitment. Now they are trying to come up with ways to demonize Obama. Good luck with that one.

Who says this stuff? Really? A guaranteed attack on American soil to test Obama mettle? Who was he talking to? Future Fear Mongers of America? So maybe Joe Biden really is John McCain’s good friend. He certainly gave a flagging campaign some excellent source material. In the meantime, can we get a gag order on this guy?

As McCain’s campaign drops in the polls, it’s good know that he has growing support from at least one substantial faith community: al-Qaeda. A password-protected al-Qaeda website ecnourages the faithful to support a McCain presidency. He “…would be a faithful son of Bush” who would help al-Qaeda in “exhausting ” America.

Yup. That’s the enemy in a nutshell. And only one man can save us from it: John McCain. He’s a P.O.W., by golly, and ready to kick some ass. This of course, is the unwritten subtext and Joe Lieberman’s and Lindsey Graham’s WSJ Op-Ed column. We have another Cold War brewing, al-Qaeda to left us, a nuclear Iran to the right of us. It’s a big, scary world and no green, big-earred, globe-trotting Hopemonger is going to be able to be tough enough. Heck, he isn’t even man enough to fight dirty in a political election. It’s the mantra that has kept the White House in Republican hands these last 8 years: Be Afraid! Be very Afraid!!!!

He thinks Iranians are training Sunni-based al-Qaeda. He thinks that there is trouble on the Iraq/ Pakistan border ( please see map for irony). And now he tells us that a 16-month withdrawal is a pretty good plan (this of course, is Obama’s timetable…excuse me…time HORIZON). So why do we think McCain will keep us safer? I forget.

When Obama lands in the Middle East this weekend, he may think he has entered the Twilight Zone. For he will be confronted by a US foreign policy that sounds less like George Bush and more like Barack Obama. This president who has consistently resisted “timetables for withdrawal” has agreed in principle to “time horizons for withdrawal.” Apparently, “timeTABLES” embolden terrorists and “time HORIZONS” don’t. You may recall that this same president has consistently said he will never “negotiate with terrorists.” Yet, this week, Bush is sending a member of the State Department to sit at the table and dialogue with the Iranians (AKA the poster children of the Axis of Evil). Then there is the Obama position that we need to draw down troops in Iraq and send more troops to Afghanistan. It seems that Secretary of Defense Gates thinks that is one heck of a good idea. Hmmm. Discussions with Iran, timetables for withdrawal and reallocating troops to Afghanistan. These are all the sort of naive things a President Obama might do. Right? That’s why he can’t be trusted to keep us safe. Right? I seem to remember John McCain saying as much. All of which seems very convenient. Now McCain can distance himself from Dubya and Obama in one fell swoop. They are both, it seems, soft on terrorism.

This was where I thought John McCain might just win this election. As General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker came before the US Senate, I thought John is going to look good. Very good. After all, he has just spent the last week on the campaign trail reminding Americans that a precipitous drawn-down of troops would be foolhardy. And now we have Dave Petraeus in those hallowed halls recommending a 45-day halt to the modest drawn-down that the Administration had promised us. McCain was golden. And he certainly looked the part: calm, even-tempered, but tough––a warrior. That was, until he tried to get the General and the Ambassador to talk about the imminent threat of al-Qaeda. Well, a threat, sure. But not the biggest bogeyman in the region. But they are a threat? Sure. Sorta… They were really trying to give McCain the answer he wanted. He was “Mr. Surge,” after all. But McCain would not let go. He keeped on blabbing about al-Qaeda, like it was the key to this war. The word that strikes terror in the heart of John Q. Public. And then, he did it. He called them Shi’a again. Doooh! Solider Johnny fumbles the globe, once more. Not good. Then Senator Clinton steps to the plate. She is cool, articulate and forceful. This is when I start thinking: This may not be where McCain shines, this may be the forum where the junior senator from Illinois is going to look very…um…junior, I think is the word. I bite my lip hard. My palms begin to sweat. Finally, it’s Obama’s turn. No speechifying is going to save the boy tonight. This is where we see if he is truly a match for these two seasoned Senators. And this is where we got to see Obama at his best. No flowery prose. No retrofitting stump speech bullet points. Instead, a respectful, but tenacious, line of questioning concerning the metrics of success. The question that no one has answered for the past five years. A question that few have even asked. And a question that betrayed something I had yet to notice. Obama has actually thought this thing through. He actually appears to have a plan. A messy one, no doubt. But a plan, nonetheless. And it was pretty clear that this big-eared rookie had just won the day.

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On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, it is an appropriate concern that the next US president have the right experience, the right knowledge and the right judgment to be Commander-In-Chief. Arguably, the president we got 7 years ago could have benefited from a little more seasoning, a little better grasp of international affairs. So it is a bit alarming when one of the candidates currently running for the highest office in our country seemed to believe that Iran is busy training al-Quaeda. This candidate, in fact, was emphatic about this so-called intelligence. It was, to quote them, “common knowledge.” If anything the American electorate has learned over the past five years it is to be highly skeptical of politicians who begin their sentences about the Islamic world with the words: “It is common knowledge.” It was sentences like these that assured us that it was common knowledge that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. It was common knowledge that Saddam was in some way behind the events of 9-11. All such knowledge turned out to be dead wrong. 4,000 American lives dead wrong. But perhaps the most perplexing thing about this week’s statement concerning al-Qaeda and Iran is that this presidential candidate obviously confused Sunnis with Shiites. Iran is Shia and al-Qaeda is Sunni. These guys hate each other. Iran isn’t training al-Qaeda, they are trying to exterminate them. This, if you will forgive the phrase, is sort of “common knowledge.” And a candidate that is this inexperienced, this uninformed, this befuddled, is clearly not ready to occupy the Oval Office. Perhaps, they could use a few more years of seasoning. You think? The funny thing is, the candidate that made this curious error, was John McCain. The guy with all the experience. The guy–– who like current guy––got things dead wrong.

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Peggy Noonan had it right. John McCain could actually be a quite formidable candidate if he would simply think before he speaks. The latest example of his propensity to just blurt things out was this Friday, when he told the crowd of supporters that he was afraid that al-Qaeda may be planning new attacks to sway this election. This would be classic GOP fear-mongering except that he was implying two very curious thoughts. The first is that the terrorists are pulling for the Democrats. This is very curious, given the main reason we haven’t had a terrorist attack on US soil since 9-11, is that the current President has made killing Americans infinitely easier. He has put them within spitting distance. Thank you, Mr. Bush. You’ve saved al-Qaeda the trip. He has also helped increased recruitment for the terrorist cause by putting boots on the ground on sacred Islamic soil. Which, for those who actually have been paying attention, is the real reason that Osama bin Laden hates the US. We keep desecrating their land with our military bases. So, in fact, the military policies of the Republicans have proven a boon to terrorism. So I don’t see Osama pulling for the Democrats. Not by any stretch of the imagination. The second implication in Senator McCain’s remarks is that a terrorist attack on America would somehow hurt his bid for Commander-In-Chief. This is almost laughable. Such a tragedy would play right into his hawkish strengths! It would be exactly the thing that would make American’s pull the McCain lever. So, on second thought, maybe this isn’t an example of McCain shooting from the lip. Maybe this guy is a Rovian genius! Maybe Peggy has pegged the old boy all wrong.

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That’s right. Waterboarding may look barbaric, but it is actually the CIA’s most effective weapon against terrorism. And George W. Bush is making darn sure that it stays legal. It’s just amazing the crazy stuff we can get these detainees to admit to mid-drowning! Golly, it’s effective! Yessir, the Spanish Inquistion has nothing on us. By, the way I’ve heard burning people alive can also work its magic. You know, something we can fall back on when there’s water rationing or something. Just a thought.