Apr 05 2010
President George W Bush understood the threat of terrorism, having experienced it up close during his first year in office and then throughout the rest of his two terms. He touched the raw horror, sadness and anger 0f Â 9-11 for weeks and months as he consoled family and friends of the dead, and consigned many more to death and injury in wars meant to change the path of the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He understood that we could not let our guard down as we did prior to 9-11, when foolish legal theories blinded our national defense and domestic law enforcement from 12 high jackers we had in our sites when they were overseas, only to let them go into hiding once they were inside America.
The liberals in this country, on the other hand, never understood what was happening. To them the 3,000 innocent victims on 9-11 was the price of living with fanatical extremist muslims. It was also the price of silly legal theories that claimed proactive defense was a sin and mass murder was nothing to get worked up about.
When President Obama was candidate Obama, his national security team was clear that they were going to roll back the Bush hair-trigger defenses and do things very differently. They were adamant to prove we were not really at war, and that we could fight the bloody-mad Jihadists using courtrooms and prosecutors. Their naivetÃ© knew no bounds.
One person leading this deadly effort was John Brennan, who was quite vocal about his intention to dial back our sensitivity to potential threats during the campaign. He infamously spouted nonsense about our threshold for even the minimum act of investigating detected warning signs:
I would argue the government needs to have access to only those nuggets of information that have some kind of predicate. That way the government can touch it and pull back only that which is related. Itâ€™s like a magnet, set to a certain calibration. Thatâ€™s what I think we need to go to.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the threshold, quite frankly, was low, because we didnâ€™t know the nature of the threat we faced here in the U.S.
[Post 9-11] Every effort was made by the government to try to get as much understanding and visibility into what else might be out there thatâ€™s going to hurt us again. Now that a number of years have passed, we need to make sure the calibration is important.
Emphasis mine. What Brennan was trying to cleverly not say clearly is that he and Obama’s team felt there was too much emphasis on checking out all threats, and not enough ‘probable cause’ to assess everyone in contact with known radicals. This naivetÃ© would lead to two terrorist attacks on our soil before President Obama’s first anniversary in office.
The second person leading the charge of ‘the liberal lemmings’ was Attorney General Eric Holder, who actually hid his true intentions from Congress during his confirmation hearings.
The brief â€“ filed by Holder, then a private attorney, former Attorney General Janet Reno and two other Clinton-era officials â€“ argued that the President lacks authority to hold Jose Padilla, a U.S citizen declared an â€œenemy combatant,â€ indefinitely without charge.
In making their case, Holder and the others argued that using federal courts to fight terrorism, which includes providing Miranda rights to terror suspects, would not â€œimpairâ€ the governmentâ€™s ability to obtain intelligence, which they called â€œthe primary tool for preventing terrorist attacks.â€
Thus the stage was set for team Obama to prove just how right President Bush was and how dangerously and criminally negligent they were going to be.
I have noted many times that the events leading up to the Ft Hood Massacre and near fatal Christmas Day airline bomb attack were suspicious and incoherent with what this nation knew about three people: Major Nidal Hasan (Ft Hood Massacre), Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab (Christmas Day Bomber) and Anwar al Aulaqi (Yemen Cleric).
There are very important details about these three people which resulted in team Obama dismissing them as threats, even with the knowledge and evidence they were enemies of America and reaching out to, or supporting, bloody Jihad against this country. It was these details which were made a priority by team Obama, obliterating the mounting evidence that would have stopped the efforts of these people – if America had kept the national security posture of President Bush.
First off, none of these people were located in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq. Team Obama decided early on to arbitrarily limit the geographic boundaries of terrorism, despite nearly two decades of evidence, going back to the Clinton years at least, indicating global Jihad had truly become ‘global’.
Secondly, two of these people are American citizens: Hasan and al Aulaqi. Most people forget that the liberal left was all wound up about surveillance and investigation of American citizens under President George W Bush’s changes to theÂ FIS Court’s relationship to the NSA and the rest of the Intelligence Community. Holder especially wanted to go back to the pre 9-11 days where even an NSA intercept of an American talking to an known al Qaeda agent COULD NOT initiate a lead to the FBI to investigate and perform surveillance.
A couple of weeks ago the NY Times came out with an article which has helped prove my contention that the Obama administration made critical and stupid changes to our national security posture. Changes which led to the Ft Hood Massacre and Christmas Day bombing attempt, the latter of which only failed to kill 300+ people due to a faulty trigger and inexperienced bomber.
In my last post on this matter, some very dedicated and smart bloggers fighting the creep of terrorism into this country noted that I had not provided a timeline of events which demonstrated the evidence against Team Obama. So this time I have rectified the situation and created the following timeline that I have gleaned from news reports on the two incidents over many months (click to enlarge).
The Ft Hood/Hasan key events are in pale green text and the Christmas Day/Abdulmutallab key events are in pale blue along the top. The NY Times article key events are in dark blue below the timeline. Other important activities and periods are in yellow text below that, all leading up to the two attacks on America. So let’s walk through this and see if I have made my case.
In the ending days of 2008, after President Obama won election but before he took office, the NSA (presumably) detected Major Nidal Hasan in contact with US born, American citizen, radical Islamist cleric, Anwar al Aulaqi who had fled to Yemen after 9-11. This posed the most challenging of situations to the Bush era changes to FISA – two American citizens discussing terrorism, one inside the country and one outside. Aulaqi is a known al Qaeda cheerleader, but only the intelligence community knows if it had strong evidence at this time of actual support to terrorism (such as recruiting killers).
Once detected these communication incidents were handed over to a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in San Diego. It also appears NSA continued to monitor the communications between Hasan and al Aulaqi under some form of FIS Court authorization. These authorizations are only allowed to run 90 days before the US Attorney General has to petition the court for a continuance. All of these activities are indicated by the three red lines which begin in December of 2008. At some point, the investigation was handed off to another JTTF based in Washington DC.
As noted in the time line, the next big event is President Obama’s inauguration day, followed shortly thereafter by the swearing in of Eric Holder as US Attorney General. Right around this time the first FIS Court 90 day authorization period might have expired and the task force investigation was apparently continued for a 2nd 90 day period. Without much time to investigate the details of the case, I can envision team Obama allowing the JTTF to continue its work as they were taking over the reigns of government.
However, at this same time – according to the New York Times article – the nation’s posture against terrorism was changing dramatically:
In March 2009, the Obama legal team adopted a new position about who was detainable in the war on terrorism â€” one that showed greater deference to the international laws of war, including theÂ Geneva Conventions, than Mr. Bush had. But what has not been known is that while the administration has stuck to that broad principle, it has been arguing over how to apply the body of law, which was developed for conventional armies, to a war against a terrorist organization.
Emphasis mine. What some people might not grasp right away is how any such change on detainees will have ramifications well beyond to surveillance, etc. What this debate was really about is who is a legitimate threat to America, so who can be monitored, captured, detained or killed as an action of war. This is when we began the dialing back of our defenses and trip wires for following intelligence leads:
With the presidentâ€™s directions in hand, Mr. Obamaâ€™s Justice Department came back on March 13, 2009, with a more modest position than Mr. Bush had advanced. It told Judge Bates that the president could detain without trial only people who were part of Al Qaeda or its affiliates, or their â€œsubstantialâ€ supporters.
Here is the trap team Obama set for themselves. Now to detain (or investigate or monitor), the target had to be an associate or proven supporter of al Qaeda. By extension, the administration would be turning a blind eye to new recruits with no proven ties to al Qaeda. This ‘modest position’ killed over 30 at Ft Hood and nearly 300 in the skies over Detroit.
As the article notes, this change in posture did not go over well in many areas of the intelligence and national security community. That summer events started to cascade, as the liberals inside the Obama administration tried to ‘calibrate’ their criminal defense strategy to fighting the war on terror:
There was broad agreement that the law of armed conflict allowed the United States to detain as wartime prisoners anyone who was actually a part of Al Qaeda, as well as nonmembers who took positions alongside the enemy force and helped it. But some criticized the notion that the United States could also consider mere supporters, arrested far away, to be just as detainable without trial as enemy fighters.
That view was amplified after Harold Koh, a former human-rights official and Yale Law School dean who had been a leading critic of the Bush administrationâ€™s detainee policies, became the State Departmentâ€™s top lawyer in late June. Mr. Koh produced a lengthy, secret memo contending that there was no support in the laws of war for the United Statesâ€™ position in the Bensayah case.
Bensayah was an Algerian detained for providing help transporting Jihadists to the front lines in Afghanistan. He was helping to move fighters to the one battle field supposedly without any question or doubt in the US. He was helping to kill American and allied soldiers. This event is critical because the arrival of Koh in June and his document would also imply the US had no authority to monitor said supporters as threats. Supporters and recruiters like Isamist cleric al Aulaqi.
I have noted this ‘summer’ event along side another summer event – the suspicious closure of the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into Major Nidal Hasan. I do not think it is coincidence at all that Hasan’s communications with fellow American (but jihad-happy) al Aulaqi were summarily ignored around the same time as Koh showed up (see his bio for evidence of his hard left views) and was penning his missive on how not all terrorists can be considered terrorists.
This event also lines up nicely with the need for Eric Holder to submit a request for another (3rd) 90 day FIS Court authorization period. The questionable way a rationale was created to end the investigation pretty much confirms the Obama administration deliberately turned a blind eye to Hasan and his situation, especially since we know the communications continued well after the end of the task force investigation.
Anyway, during the summer the Hasan investigation was shut down and Hasan was able to be in a position later in the fall to murder over 30 fellow Americans at Ft Hood.
Also during this time period, another African far from the war front and without any clear connections with al Qaeda was banned from the UK. One Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – the underwear bomber. Â He too was in contact with Islamist cleric al Aulaqi. But at this point it seems al Aulaqi was now being given the benefit of the doubt. No connection would be made until after his Christmas Day attack. Is it really coincidence that dots were not being connected at the same time the Obama administration was requiring strong proof of allegiance to al Qaeda before we would begin responding to threats?
The next big event on the timeline was the precursor ‘underwear bomb’ attack on Saudi Arabia in September 2009 (which also just barely failed to hit its objective). The technology behind this new threat unnerved the western intelligence community because it was clearly a weapon of mass destruction undetectable by typical security measures (as Abdulmutallab would prove on Christmas Day).
That attack was linked back to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which operates out of Yemen. Some time shortly afterwards, according to news reports, the US intelligence community returned its attention and focus to Yemen with great concern. However, also according to news reports, one connection failed to be detected – the connection between Abdulmutallab and al Aulaqi.
Also in September 2009 a foreign intelligence service learned of a new al Qaeda recruit named “Umar Farouk”. It is interesting this was a foreign intelligence service, and not ours.
Also in September, the debate on who would be considered a threat to the nation in the ‘war’ on terror raged:
In September 2009, national-security officials from across the government packed into the Office of Legal Counselâ€™s conference room on the fifth floor of the Justice Department, lining the walls, to watch Mr. Koh and Mr. Johnson debate around a long table. It was up to Mr. Barron, who sat at the head of the table, to decide who was right.
But he did not. Instead, days later, he circulated a preliminary draft memorandum stating that while the Office of Legal Counsel had found no precedents justifying the detention of mere supporters of Al Qaeda who were picked up far away from enemy forces, it was not prepared to state any definitive conclusion.
So with no consensus, the legal team decided on a tactical approach. For as long as possible they would try to avoid that hard question. They changed the subject by instead asking courts to agree that people like Mr. Bensayah, looked at from another angle, had performed functions that made them effectively part of the terrorist organization â€” and so were clearly detainable.
What this means is people like Hasan and Abdulmutallab would not be considered threats because they had no confirmed ties to al Qaeda. It means even American Islamist cleric al Aulaqi, without hard evidence to the contrary, would not be considered a threat if all he did was spout support for al Qaeda. The administration closed the door to any and all threats coming from new recruits and as-yet-undetected jihadists. This was the final step to making sure the administration would miss any and all warning signs on new recruits Hasan and Abdulmutallab.
What happens next is the Ft Hood Massacre in November, followed by the slow and painful realization that Hasan was not a ‘lone wolf’ disturbed individual, but was connected to the terrorist cells in Yemen. What did not happen in the refocus on Yemen – apparently – was a refocus on American born Al Aulaqi. He does not show back up on our radar until very late, and well after the Ft Hood Massacre.
As the timeline shows, once the administration took its eyes off the threats it struggled, without any hope, to catch back up. It had tied its hands and blinded itself, and Americans died at Ft Hood. Ten times as many nearly died on Christmas Day.Â This is not coincidence, but evidence of a pattern of criminal negligence based on naive liberal dogma.
I have no way to confirm the events, time frames and sequences of this timeline. I suspect it is off here and there, but generally accurate. It is sufficient for any real journalist to investigate, if they are not simply political apologists for the searing failures of this administration. There is very little doubt in my mind that this evidence shows team Obama made risky and dangerous decisions that left this nation exposed to at least two terrorist attacks. It wanted to change the national security posture of the nation, did so, and Americans died.