Monday, July 13, 2009

Aren't we supposed to be killing Al Qaeda?

Ditto on this reaction at Small Wars Journal to the current political ploys in DC targeting the CIA and former VP Dick Cheney. The gist is that at the center of the controversy is a 9/11-generated program, which may or may not have moved beyond the conceptual stage, that was focused on sending hit teams into Afghanistan and Pakistan to hunt al Qaeda.

My reaction is, wait, this program is the dirty secret supposedly hidden by the CIA and VP Cheney? To me, this program should have been operational, and if it required an extra veil of secrecy (and deniability for our nation's leaders), then so be it. The far more worrisome revelation is that this program - hidden or not - apparently was not made operational after 9/11 and we have not had hit teams scouring the region for bad guys. Coincidentally, in a recent 60 Minutes piece, SpecOps commander "Dalton Fury", whose team was tasked with tracking down Bin Laden immediately after 9/11, described how two of his mission plans that may have worked to block bin Laden's escape into Pakistan were rejected from higher up for unknown reasons. Instead, more cumbersome and time-consuming battleplans were employed.

Are we serious about exterminating al Qaeda or are we not?

19JUNE09 UPDATE: A little more information about the CIA plan is discussed here. Above, I parenthetically side-mentioned "deniability for our nation's leaders" as a reason for the program's secrecy. The article mentions that "A second former official with extensive knowledge of the CIA effort said it was seen as crucial that the units reside fully within the CIA so the U.S. government would be able to deny involvement if a team were exposed." Again, the rationale for not reporting the plan to Congress, if that is what happened, fits the popular understanding of the black ops that the CIA is supposed to be doing in the War on Terror. Just what the hell are the Congressmen who are calling for an investigation up to?

19JUNE09 UPDATE2: More confusion. Apparently, President Bush's finding for the CIA to kill or capture terrorists was openly discussed by the NY Times in 2002. EXCERPT:
The administration must notify Congressional leaders of any covert action finding signed by the president. In the case of the presidential finding authorizing the use of lethal force against members of Al Qaeda, Congressional leaders have been notified as required, the officials said. [Later] ... the covert operations are known only to a small circle of executive branch and Congressional officials.
So, if the presidential finding is not the point of dispute, I'm guessing the calls for investigation are based on what Congress was told or not told about programs meant to carry out the presidential finding. Assuming designated Congressional officials are required to be briefed on all clandestine ops (really, all?), they did not receive regular detailed updates about this program, and the program was not operational while perhaps programs with similar objectives (eg, UAV missile strikes) were operational and briefed to Congress, did this particular program reach the level of maturity where the CIA was required to brief the designated Congressional officials on the planning and research for a non-operation? This issue is different from the programs that were operational, eg, waterboarding of high-level terrorists, and briefed to the designated Congressional leaders. There likely is gray area and room for interpretation involved. I just wish these matters would be resolved without displaying the dispute and our secrets to the world.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

<< Home

<< Newer
Older >>

Powered by Blogger