Sunday, May 8, 2011

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Rejects Law Suit to Strike down National Day of Prayer

  The Seventh Circuit Federal Court of Appeals recently rejected a law suit by secular progressive group "Freedom from Religion Foundation" and various individuals to have the National Day of Prayer declared "unconstitutional" as a violation of the "Establishment" clause of the Constitution, (see text of original complaint here).  The holiday-- recently celebrated by gatherings of millions on the first Thursday in May under a 1988 version of the law first passed by the Truman Administration in 1952-- focuses on national prayer and re-dedication to God as well as remembrance of the critical and historic role that the Christian faith has played in our nation's formation and public life.  Of course, the fact that setting aside a day for "national prayer and repentance" goes back to the earliest days of our nations's founding, (and even before, see here), didn't keep the atheist "public advocacy" group from filing a suit in 2008 that resulted in 2010 in a Federal District judge in Wisconsin ruling that the law was an "unconstitutional" violation of the oft-misunderstood concept of "Separation of Church and State" under the Constitution's "Establishment Clause."  That ruling was just vacated (thrown out) by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a ruling that the atheist Group lacked "standing" to bring the suit in the first place.  But the lower court's ruling would have come as a surprise to our nations first president George Washington, who on June 20, 1775 publicly proclaimed the following:

... Congress having recommended it to the United States to set apart Thursday the 6th of May next to be observed as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, to acknowledge the gracious interpositions of Providence; to deprecate [to pray or intreat that a present evil may be removed] deserved punishment for our Sins and Ingratitiude, to unitedly implore the Protection of Heaven; Success to our Arms and the Arms of our Ally: The Commander in Chief enjoins a religious observance of said day and directs the Chaplains to prepare discourses proper for the occasion; strictly forbidding all recreations and unnecessary labor.” —George Washington, First President of the United States.
  Indeed, the ruling by the Court of Appeals-- for what is essentially a "technical" reason-- means the appellate court has not reached the merits of the case, and leaves things as if the lower court never issued a decision. 

  While we don't agree with the lower court decision, we do think the ruling on "standing" by the Court of Appeals is erroneous, as the district court made a clear distinction in its decision between the lack of standing to attack Presidential proclamations, (which a citizen or citizen group generally doesn't have), and an attack on the constitutionality of a statute for purposes of "declaratory relief" which the citizenry generally does possess if it can show "harm" resulting to them from the law in question.

 The atheist foundation has vowed to seek reconsiderion by all the justices of the Seventh Circuit sitting simultaneously, (known as "En Banc" reconsideration).  Such motions ordinarily are rarely granted in all but the most important cases.  In this case however there are arguably important public policy reasons for such a motion to be granted, including a more substantive ruling on the merits of the foundation's claims, (something which could actually benefit a more 'traditional' understanding of the much ballyhooed "Separation of Church and State" doctrine that prevailed since our nation's founding and throughout the late 18th and 19th Centuries under the "Establishment Clause".)  That could happen if an 'En Banc' decision by the entire Seventh Circuit on the merits upholds the law and results in a strengthening of the nation's right to public expressions of its religious heritage.

 The ACLP doesn't believe that even if a rehearing 'En Banc" is granted it will, on balance, result in a change of the final outcome in the case, and for that reason believes reconsideration will most likely not be granted.  That does not mean however that the issue is cut and dried by any means for the above-mentioned public policy reasons. 

 Complicating the matter is the fact that however we may disagree with the District Court decision it cannot be denied it is a well reasoned-- and in many respects, arguably correct-- application of precedent re: "Establishment Clause" jurisprudence, (particularly regarding prior appellate cases attempting to apply the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court on such matters, which are tortuously complex and even seemingly contradictory at times, especially when going back before the mid-twentieth century).  

 Indeed, it should not surprise us that the federal courts-- including the nation's highest court-- are likely to closely split on such issues of intense public debate, (a sad but not surprising commentary on the irreligious times in which we live and the poor job our public educational system is doing teaching American history and civics).

 Nevertheless, the fact that the present makeup of the nation's highest court-- with several new(er) members appointed by both the Obama and previous Bush Administrations-- may wish to take the opportunity to clarify its precedents in this area is a strong reason to believe that the whole Seventh Circuit may weigh in first before an ultimate determination of this issue before the high court, (if the high court even takes the case, which they usually don't).  In that regard, it is a perfect "test case" for how the Supreme Court may view such matters going forward, and we accordingly hope that the Seventh Circuit will in fact agree to reconsider this case "En Banc" as it raises significantly the chances the High Court will review it also, (with the end result hopefully bringing some clarity/ sanity to this conflicted area of the law in favor of the more traditional view). 

 We will keep you apprised of this case even as we are watching others of critical interest, most specifically the proceedings in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals where an Obamacare appeal is pending and the government has until May 18th to file its reply brief to the State of Florida along with 25 other states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, (NFIB), who are challenging this sweeping expansion of federal power.  You can read the initial brief of the various states in that momentous appeal winding its way to the Supreme Court here.  

 Like the Obamacare case(s), if in fact the Freedom from Religion Foundation's case gets to the Supreme Court, its importance cannot be overestimated, as it has the potential of completely turning on its head almost a half-century of what we feel are court decisions that have too far tipped the balance towards hostility to expressions of religious faith in the public square, often with lopsided or ridiculous results, (remember the case that said you could display a Menorah or Creche scene on public property as long as there were significant "secular" symbols of Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph?)

 Indeed, if the case is resolved 'En Banc' by the Court of Appeals on its merits-- rather than the technical grounds on which the Seventh Circuit has already reversed the District Court-- and subsequently appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court as it is most certain to be by the losing party, (assuming it ultimately gets accepted by the High Court for review, only about one percent do), it would be on par with the Obamacare cases to the extent it could be just as earthshaking but in the area of Religious Freedom/ First Amendment jurisprudence, (and much longer in coming!)  We say, about time!   jp

Saturday, May 7, 2011

President bows to Turkey, breaks campaign promise to acknowledge Armenian Massacre, Fails to Acknowledge National Day of Prayer

  As reported in the Armenian weekly, Despite his 2008 campaign promise that "America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully... I intend to be that President," for the third year in a row President Obama completely ignored this first genocide of the 20th Century-- much to the Chagrin of the Armenian community and the attempts by Congress to acknowledge this pivotal and tragic turning point during and just after world war one-- that many say was the forebear and model for the way Hitler would treat the Jews in the 1930's leading up to WWII.   He also failed to issue an official proclamation marking America's National Day of Prayer or even Easter, the traditional national holiday marking resurrection of Christ for millions of Americans of all ethnic backgrounds and historic day of prayer for the victims of the massacre which saw up to 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered, raped and/or marched into exhaustion in the Syrian desert by their Muslim Turkish captors, (the forebears of modern-day Turkey).

  Initially, we should say that while the debate rages in the blogosphere on whether previous Presidents in fact issued "official" proclamations re: Easter and to what extent other comments of the President may have honored this sacred holiday in spite of his lack of official proclamation-- and in spite of his almost unbroken proclamations re: Muslim Holy days, see here-- whether or not Obama issued an 'official' proclamation matters less to us than the Administration's policies vis a vis their impact on matters where faith and public policy intersect and the results therefrom.

  On this score, and regarding the matter of the Armenian massacre, the President's actions seem like a deliberate slap in the face to the Armenian community for purely political purposes in order to appease Nato Ally in the "war on terror" Turkey, (which had protested and mounted a forceful and political public relations effort to defeat the attempts to publicly recognize this black mark of history).

  It is a whole 'nother matter regarding the pro or anti-Christian bias, (although, as above alluded to, we feel there is a connection between the two).  Again, we wish to emphasize that it is not the failure to "proclaim" anything  particular with regard to any specific religion or holiday 'per se' that we find so troubling, but the anti-Christian attitudes and policies that such a lack of proclamation may indicate are at the root of the Administration's actions (or lack thereof).

  Equally troubling, it seems to us to mark a continued pattern of willingness on the part of Obama to avoid having to make a public stand on important policy issues-- recall his voting 129 times "present" in the Illinois Senate from whence he came, see here and here-- and starkly belies Obama's promise to be "the most transparent Administration in history."  

   Moreover, in light of the President's failure to also acknowledge last Thursday's National Day of Prayer-- a practice recently upheld by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, see HERE, and on which no Previous Presidents have demurred-- as well as many of his openly anti-Christian policies, it does not appear to be coincidence.

   So with this post we shall begin a journey of analysis that attempts to explain Obama's obvious reluctance to take the side of the traditional Christian mores in most all matters of public controversy, (whether it be gay marriage or abortion or stem cell research).

   We should say at the outset that the President's overall conduct and/or foreign policy inaction-- a la the President's delayed intervention in Libya, see here-- cannot sufficiently be explained by mere 'political' factors.  If that were the case, we could expect to see more forceful proclamations--  accompanied preferably by active intervention-- of the Obama administration in the case of other genocides around the world such as in Syria or Sudan, see here, which to the world's (and America's) shame have been largely ignored.

   Indeed, in examining the myriad of possible reasons for this "blind eye" of the President's towards hotspots of the world where Christians are being persecuted horribly one answer for the President's inconsistent reaction routinely arises: That he just isn't very sympathetic towards people of the Christian faith due to his lack of devout faith itself.  Indeed, none other than Franklin Graham, the son of world renowned evangelist Billy Graham and current President of non-profit Samaritan's Purse Ministries, have noted the President's seemingly nominal Christianity, see here.

   But while this explanation might go a long way towards explaining the President's attitude towards public expressions of opinion on matters of Christian faith generally-- as could also be said of President Clinton whose 'faith' it is safe to say was also less than devout and who also coincidentally failed to issue proclamations re: Easter along with most other modern President's, although not so the National Day of Prayer--  it still doesn't explain the seeming and persistent outright antithesis towards a pro-Christian, (or Jewish for that matter) perspective in most domestic and foreign affairs.  Indeed, from 'apologizing' to Muslim countries for "America's arrogance" to his domestic pro-abortion policies, it is almost like the President goes out of his way to diss Christian values and traditions, (often in favor of those of Islam).  This is even more evident when one considers that Obama didn't fail to publicly acknowledge the observance of all major Muslim holidays in 2010, Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fidr, Hajj, and Eid-ul-Adha.

  Whether this is due to experiences and influences as a boy growing up in Indonesia-- which included the sound of the Muslim "call to prayers" that Obama described in his book 'Dreams of my Father' as "one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset"-- his being a "closet Muslim" as alleged by some, see also here or, as Franklin Graham theorizes, is simply non-devout, the public policy results can hardly be doubted:  There clearly appears to be a distinct, anti-Christian, (and/or anti-American?), bias to the President's foreign (and domestic) policy positions.

  Indeed, from repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' in the military to his unilateral decision not to defend the Defense Of Marriage Act to his not allowing evangelical Christian groups to pray at the Pentagon, see here, the President Obama's antithesis towards matters of faith and, indeed, the entire Christian 'world view' as expressed in his policies, is obvious, (even if the entire reasons are not).

  In Dinesh D'souza's book "The Roots of Obama's Rage," he theorizes that Obama's anti-Christian/ Anti-American bent is in fact caused by a deep "anti-colonial" hatred for the West passed on to him from his Father and Grandfather before.  Such influences, joined as they are with memories of subjugation often blended with Christian missionary influences-- in the minds if not in reality for many members of the former African colonies-- would certainly explain Obama's reluctance to take the "pro-Christian" view or become involved in foreign affairs and even domestic policies where Christian religion or influences are implicated.

  Of course, the problem with this is that almost all American institutions are-- and for the most part continue to be in spite of liberal progressives' most ardent efforts to the contrary-- infused with our nation's founding Judeo-Christian roots and beliefs; indeed, from the Mayflower Pilgrims to the Declaration of Independence to our nations laws and monuments, the history of America and its abiding principles of freedom, justice, and the dignity and worth of every person made in God's image just don't make sense apart from the Christian faith, (however much a proper understanding of this has been erased in the minds of the present generation, another topic for another day).

  In any case, such an approach as the President exhibits is sure to promote the roots of injustice and genocide generally in the modern era, as it supplies a potent motive for "revenge" and the continuing of barbarism on a whole different set of peoples not responsible for the "sins" of their fathers and denies the dream of equality across racial and/or religious lines.  A Dream hoped for by none other than American visionary and slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King who spoke of the need-- if ever different races and/or religions were to get along in a just society-- for people to no longer be "judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."  NOTE: Yes, we do realize that race and religion are distinct matters and that Dr. King was speaking-- as a Baptist himself-- from a predominantly 'Christian' point of view, (indeed, as his famous "letter from Birmingham" shows, it was his entire impetus for speaking out against racial segregation).  However, as herein shown, (witness Sudan), sometimes, race and religious belief sadly coalesce.  In any event, we are sure Dr. King wouldn't mind as, in his own words from the Birmingham jail, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

  To that end, we ask that all our readers please pray for President Obama in accord with your religious tradition.  Whatever the devoutness of his Christian faith, (or lack thereof), our country can only be better off for our prayers.  Perhaps it might lead to a badly needed "spiritual rebirth" or awakening in our society generally or on behalf of our President that might move him to a more balanced and helpful view of things to the salvation of many souls, (in the temporal if not the eternal).   Failing that, in the least perhaps our prayers (and accompanying actions) might be successful in removing his administration from power in 2012 if he will not change his evident policies of blocking justice for victims of genocide and Christian values generally for mere political reasons.    jp

Thursday, May 5, 2011

For my liberal readers who can't admit truth that 'torture' helped get Bin Laden

  I have received one too many obnoxious 'comments' from my liberal (friends?) whining about my balanced and reasoned-- if too "conservative" and personally distasteful in its conclusion-- reporting on the controversy over whether so called "enhanced interrogation techniques" were responsible for identifying the "trusted human courier" of Bin Laden's that led to the terrorist leader's hideout at a fortified private compound in Abbottabad, Pakinstan.  So finally, after enduring their attacks, (which usually consist of just insults or hysterically accusing me of "lying" without any particular evidence or refutation of my facts, name calling, "right wing" smears, you know, all the typical stuff), and now that it's become obvious-- even if all the left-leaning bloggers can't bring themselves to admitting the truth and keep posting the opposite!-- that it was in fact Bush-era 'enhanced interrogation' policies that enabled their man Obama to track down the mass murderer and leader of the Al-Qaeda terror network, (see statements of Democratic CIA Chief on msnbc, not exactly "right wing" sources), I have decided to post links to multiple sources that confirm my initial conclusions.

  The reason I decided to simply post the "evidence" if you will and let it do the talking instead of responding to the same old arguments is I am, at heart, and the ACLP is, an organization dedicated to the discussion of ideas, and more importantly, hopefully solutions for the serious policy and other problems vexing our Republic currently, (not, believe it or not, just arguing about the politics of the situation, as interesting as that may be).

  We would hope that by discussing the various pros and cons of issues affecting our nation, we might, in some small way, call attention to issues needing redress, or bring another angle to an issue that perhaps you haven't thought about.  Then, and as is the genius of our constitutional Republic our Founders so wisely bequeathed to us, the people, once informed, can properly direct their elected representatives and leaders-- are you listening Mr. President?-- on the way in which they wish to be represented on such matters with the goal of breaking through the political morass that is Washington which we hope in turn will enact pragmatic, common sense solutions for our present problems that actually work, (rather than top-down government bureaucratic solutions which history tells us don't). 

   And while we realize we may not always succeed, and that some of the issues facing our nation are vexing and complex-- and will accordingly require more systemic, long-term change-- the solutions are indeed often simple, (I said simple, not necessarily easy.  Making money in the stock market is also simple, exemplified by the dictum "buy low, sell high," but the "doing of it" is not always an "easy" thing to do in practice, especially in the short term!)   Take, for example, our huge budget deficits.  Solution?  Reduce spending, and/or raise revenue.  Simple solution, difficult in practice to do, (especially politically).  But nonetheless necessary, (at least if we are to avoid becoming a third world nation of want and anarchy).   But I digress.

  The long and short of it is, for all the above-- and other reasons, chief among them being time-- and since my liberal 'friends' are obviously so unhappy with my analysis and/or can't seem to add anything substantive or positive to the discussion, I have decided to just point out the sources supporting my conclusions directly.

   As you can see from the list, they are not all "conservative," (unless you consider MSNBC and the London Telegraph "conservative!")  Anyways... here's hopefully to better understanding... Happy clicking!

Obama CIA Chief Panetta confirms contribution of waterboarding- MSNBC 

"Intelligence gained by waterboarding" under Bush-- Chairman of Homeland Security, Congressman Peter King R-NY

Straight from the horses mouth- Donald Rumsfeld on Hannity May 3 2011 (Video

Straight from the horses mouth Part Two- Donald Rumsfeld on O'reilly Factor May 4 2011 (Video)

Proof of prevarication on Bin Laden raid facts in accounts from White House

Overview of Bin Laden capture narrative- London Telegraph

Rumsfeld says misquoted on enhanced interrogations (great links too!)

Explanation of how liberals are sowing confusion on waterboarding issue

CIA Chief Leon Panetta admits waterboarding yielded "vital" intelligence- London Telegraph

declassified docs on enhanced interrogations

Critique of New York Times biased coverage on "torture" issue

  As you can see, the support for my conclusions is fairly conclusive, in fact, overwhelming if you are honest about it, (notwithstanding all the bloggers to the contrary).  So unless this is all just some grand "conspiracy"-- wait, I thought it's only the political right that believes in conspiracies, was that really a third shooter on the grassy knoll? lol-- I'd have to say to my liberal friends that their argument isn't with me, but the truth.

  Having thus said, we are open to alternate points of view on here, which is better than you'll get at the Daily Kos or Obama's site if you happen to try posting from the "conservative" point of view.  In that regard, we welcome your disagreement with our reasoning or conclusions.  All we ask if you post here is a few basic ground rules:  1)  That you don't accuse us of lying, (this is just so pointless, as it usually is mere political-speak for you don't agree with our conclusions);  2) That you refrain from name-calling and personal insults, (or, just as bad, meaningless labels and/or talking points), AND, 3) Actually have something specific to say that will contribute to a rational discussion, (not just "that's false" or "I disagree" but WHY you disagree, with reference to facts, sources and logical argument, I know kinda elementary but you should see the comments we get!)  Otherwise your comment will get deleted. It will NOT get deleted for merely disagreeing with us or disputing the facts, (as our publishing previous dissent shows.  However, you can expect further rebuttal and/or discussion on anything you challenge, as a perusal of prior comments also shows. It might even spark a whole post if it's that thought-provoking!  But that's just Free Speech in the greatest country in the world in action :)

  Finally, for those who have taken the time to comment positively, (or even not so positively!); thanks for your feedback, (even the nasty ones let us know we're getting noticed!) and stay tuned for news on our expansion coming soon due to our increasing support and web traffic!  Your prayers and encouragement, including suggestions about how to improve the site, are, as always, much appreciated.   And if you're enjoying the site, PLEASE click buttons at bottom of articles to register your vote and/or comment, as well as use your google, yahoo or email to "follow us" so we will know you're on board (or better yet add a link to us on your own blog or social media site!)  Thanks again for being in the fight for truth and helping heal our body politic from the malaise in which it finds itself.  jp

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Former Defense Secretary confirms likelihood of Bush-era Enhanced Interrogation Techniques contributing to Bin Laden Capture

 Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confirmed on Fox News' 'Hannity' show last night that the receipt of voluminous actionable intelligence from the enhanced interrogation techniques employed by the Bush Administration, including information received from the waterboarding of Khaleid Sheikh Mohammed, was likely ultimately responsible for the Obama Administration's successful capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden, (the Al-Quaeda terror leader responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks on the world trade center in 2001 which killed 3000 Americans).  In that regard, the death of Bin Laden in last Sunday's daring raid on a sprawling Pakistan compound largely due to U.S. intelligence has kindled a fierce debate over just to what extent the Bush-era "enhanced interrogation techniques" contributed to the success of the operation as well as the appropriateness and efficacy of such techniques from a moral and legal perspective.  But again, don't just take my word for it.

"It is correct that today CIA Director Pendeta indicated that one of the individuals that provided valuable info had been waterboarded. I think that anyone who suggests that enhanced interrogation, let's be blunt, waterboarding,did not produce an enormous amount of valuable intelligence isnt facing the truth. The facts are,Gen. Mike Hayden,who had no connection to waterboarding concluded that most of the intelligence came from the three men who had been waterboarded."-- Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, 5/3/11

 The three men that both Obama CIA Chief Leon Panetta, Peter King, (R-NY) and the former Secretary of Defense above refer to were Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.    

  While previous statements of Rumsfeld's that the Department of Defense procured no actionable intelligence from waterboarding at Guantonomo have been repeatedly misquoted out of context by the political left-- Rumsfeld subsequently explained he was only talking about alleged interrogations at Gitmo by the military, and NOT that done by CIA contractors at prisons in Eastern Europe during "rendition" where the controversial interrogation tactics were used to great success-- there is little doubt that it ultimately yielded the critical information about the identity of Bin Laden's trusted "courier" that led U.S. intelligence investigators to the Pakistan compound where Bin Laden was found.

  That however hasn't stopped the controversial interrogation tactics-- including that of "rendition" where an enemy combatant or terror suspect is taken to a foreign detention center overseas and out of the jurisdiction of American courts for aggressive interrogation techniques up to and including the water-boarding that Khaleid Sheikh Mohammed and the two other Al-Qaida terrorists were subject to during the Bush Administration-- from engendering a firestorm of debate.  Indeed, some of the techniques might well be considered "torture" if conducted on American citizens within the U.S. and subject to the same level of constitutional analysis that a typical and more common criminal case would be in the federal court system.  (Aye, but there's the rub, your average joe mohammed terrorist plotting mass murder just to make a political point is NOT typically a U.S. citizen and these are anything but "common" criminal cases, if only the Obama Administration would stop treating them as such!)  And this besides the fact that many military types-- in all probability including the very special-ops navy seal team which apprehended Bin Laden-- have voluntarily or as part of their training undergone such techniques with no lasting harm, (for an account of one who has written about the experience click HERE).

  But opponents, one of whom recently wrote me to protest what a "stain" on America such practices are, say that such techniques violate our fundamental constitutional values and only prove what the terrorists say about America as the "Great Satan."  Consequently, or so goes this narrative, they are used to recruit potential terrorists from Mid-eastern men who become "embittered" against the West by news of the interrogation tactics, (or, unfortunately, pictures).  Moreover, and in any case, such "torture" techniques --as opponents of such practices call them-- do not yield accurate or useful information anyway, (obviously one reason why the Obama Administration is fighting so hard to deny the former President's policies may have contributed to the apprehension of Bin Laden).

  Proponents of such techniques on the other hand say that to cling to Westernized Democratic concepts of constitutional "values" to appeal to still largely authoritarian and tribal societies who in all likelihood are going to hate us anyway is penny wise and pound foolish, and that in a crisis where a terror suspect in custody could provide "Jack Bauer" sort of "real-time" information that may be needed to stop an imminent and disastrous nuclear or chemical attack is not the time to "play nice," (especially so in an age when our attackers no longer come dressed in military fatigues and attack when and where we most expect them).

  According to this perspective, we simply must reserve the right for our military and intelligence communities to use whatever techniques as they deem helpful in stopping such attacks, and prohibiting them from doing so is simply naive and irresponsible.

 While it is admittedly a close call, and the debate is likely to rage on as long as we have those among us who would blow others up just because they don't agree with their beliefs or may not like our politics-- as a person who I recently met in a Starbucks near where I live stridently made clear-- it does seem to us, perhaps precisely because we don't find causing the deaths of thousands of innocent people just to achieve ones political ends at all rational, that whatever the merits of their political ends, (if there are any), the latter perspective makes more common sense from a "public safety" perspective in an age in which saving lives from wanton terrorist attacks must be the paramount deciding factor.   

  After all, while the blame-American-first crowd would certainly strenuously argue, as I'm sure my Starbucks friend and recent commenters would-- and our President publicly has-- that it is in fact American policies and arrogance that-- to quote Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright-- have caused the radical Islamist terrorists to "come home to roost," the bottom line as we see it is when one terrorist in custody has information on an active terror plot that could potentially kill tens of thousands of Americans, constitutional niceties such as reading terrorists miranda warnings and asking "please" just doesn't cut it.  Indeed, when it comes to stopping nuclear, chemical or other mass attacks that could kill thousands of innocent Americans in a population centers like New York City or Chicago in just moments, outright prohibiting such techniques for sake of a "principle" to benefit those who have none instead of allowing our President to make the tough choices necessary is akin to arguing over who forgot to change the battery in the smoke detector while the house is on fire.  

  And if the string of terror attacks and attempts in just the last few years is any indication, our house is indeed "on fire." 

 Moreover, to those who would emphasize constitutional principle over public safety we would like to point out this is no mere "academic" matter.  Rather, it is especially of great and timely interest going forward from Sunday's raid, as even prior to these recent events, warnings had been issued, ostensibly from high ups in the world-wide Al-Qaeda network, of dire consequences in the event their leader Bin Laden was killed or captured, see here and here.

  So it is with great interest we come to the former Defense Secretaries statements last night on Fox.  Now to be fair, surely some will say that he is just "covering" for his former boss.  Perhaps.

 However, also to be fair, and unless we are mistaken, he was also known recently to have opposed such practices personally, which, if true, would raise the credibility of his statements now.

 Add to that the fact that whatever his former employment, we see little reason to believe Mr. Rumsfeld would say things that could later, if proven untrue, undermine his own integrity and credibility.  Indeed, in addition to Donald Rumsfeld just seeming to us to be too much of a "shoot from the hip" straight-shooter kind of guy to beat around the Bush-- no pun intended!-- or care about political correctness, it makes little sense he would lie to defend his former employer who holds no sway over him now when he is a successful author and personality in his own right. 

 Between that and the Chairmen of the House Homeland Security Committee Peter King's (R-NY) emphatic statements that he knows those who have personal knowledge of the intelligence gleaned from the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2003 and that such information divulged the "nick name" of the human courier later identified from further interrogations of captured Al-Qaeda combatant Al-Libi in 2007 as the real-life courier of Bin Laden's which ultimately led U.S. intelligence to the compound in Iraq-- admittedly after further steps such as the electronic "pinging" of his cell phone--  we feel confident that in time the veracity of these accounts will be confirmed.  Indeed, when combined with declassified information from a 2004 GAO report supporting the assertions of efficacy of such techniques, (see yesterday's post), we feel the burden is on the other side to disprove such claims.

  After all, it's not as if Obama doesn't have reason to want to be seen as the "sole defender" of America against terrorism.  Indeed, his popularity in the polls have jumped nine points since announcement of the death of Bin Laden.  Let's just hope that the President will put the nation's good above his own political ambitions at re-election.  Our country just can't afford to play politics with the nations's safety.  jp

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Obama Administration backtracks on key claims of Bin Laden assault and disputes value of Bush era intelligence

 Last Sundays announcement by the President of the capture (and death of 9/11 terror mastermind Usama Bin Laden) at the hand of Special Ops and ultra classified "Seal Team Six" in Pakistan was inspiring.  Unfortunately, in light of subsequent public statements by Counter-terrorism Advisor to the President John Brennan this morning on Fox news and other national news outlets, as well as at a White House news conference yesterday afternoon with White House press secretary Jay Carney, in which he made certain statements which both contradict earlier statements of the Administration and other facts on the record regarding the Bush Administration's interrogation policies and to what extent they contributed to the success of this nation-critical security mission, we feel compelled to write a further response to these events and express our deep concern over an apparent attempt on the part of the Obama administration to unduly minimize the prior Administration's contributions in order to manipulate these events for partisan advantage.  (Especially onerous after such gracious and congratulatory reactions to the news by both former President George Bush and former Vice-President Dick Cheney, see yesterday's post).

 In the same news conference yesterday at the White House in which Obama's press secretary stated "the fact is that no single piece of information led to the successful mission that occured on Sunday, it simply strains credulity to suggest that a piece of evidence that may or may not have been gathered... eight years ago somehow directly led to a successful mission on Sunday," the top counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan backed off his initial claims that Osama Bin Laden was armed with a "knife or gun," used one of his wives as a "human shield" to deflect the assualt by U.S. Navy Seal special forces, and that the raid resulted in her death, (she was actually only shot in the leg when she rushed the commandos).   He also backed off claims that Bin Laden was offered a chance to surrender before the elite U.S. commando squad killed him with two gun shots to the chest and head, bringing to an end his reign as head of the world-wide Al-Qaeda terror network and exacting justice for the 9/11/01 world-trade-center attacks.  The 2001 terror attacks caused 3000 American citizens to be killed by the suicidal ramming of the trade towers with fully-fueled jetliners piloted by young Mid-Eastern and mostly Saudi nationals who received their flight skills largely by the beneficence of American flight schools.  Adding to the denials of Mr. Carney were the comments of Mr. Brennan, who affirmatively and openly denied that certain Bush Administration policies, (namely the Bush policies of "enhanced interrogation" of terror suspects and enemy combatants), played any significant role in the apprehension of Osama Bin Laden, a sentiment he repeated this morning on Fox news, to wit:

What allowed us to get to the Abbottabad compound was many years of pain-staking analysis as well as collection, putting together bits and pieces of information, some of it came from individuals who were in custody, some of it came from human sources, other technical means, but there was no single bit of information that was instrumental...-  John Brennan, Obama Administration's Chief Counterrorism Advisor, May 2, 2011, emphasis added.
  This followed incredulous claims by attorney General Holder-- which we shall deal with on another day-- that he "didn't know" if enhanced interrogation techniques under the Bush Administration led to "any actionable intelligence" helpful to apprehending terrorists engaged in jihad against the U.S., see here and here, in spite of it blatantly contradicting the express statements yesterday and repeated today by Peter King (R-NY) member on the House Intelligence Committee and Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee to the contrary.  Indeed, Congressman King was adamant today in reaffirming his initial statements, stating that "The initial information on the courier was obtained by waterboarding back in 2003.  I've spoken to people who... have first-hand information... I'm telling you that people who were on the ground, people who are in a position to know, they told me that."  Peter King, (R-NY), May 3, 2011, Watch video here.

 Regardless of the controversy-- which we expect, (and indeed hope), the U.S. Congress will get to the bottom of in investigative hearings in due course-- we find the claims of counter-terrorism advisor Mr. Brennan and the Administation highly doubtful at best, and at worst blatantly false, in light of what we already know about the information the Bush Administration received from its interrogation policies during George W. Bush's Presidency, (more on this below).  First however, from the Administration's Chief National Counter-terrorism Officer's own words, we know at least the following:

 First of all, as National counter-terrorist Advisor Brennan explicitly said of the information that led U.S. intelligence to the Bin Laden compound, "some of it came from individuals who were in custody," leading to the obvious questions, what information, from what individuals, and where in custody?  If we didn't know better, this sure sounds like it could comport with the "enhanced interrogation" policies and intelligence that we already know was gleaned from the Bush Administration; indeed, rather than disproving the contribution of Bush-era policies, such words, depending on what exactly they refer to-- reference the old trick of political operatives not wanting to get 'nailed down' saying something with which they could later be accused of lying in some Congressional Committee hearing while at the same time not wanting to be particularly helpful-- could actually, without explicitly coming out and saying so, confirm what Mr. Brennan couldn't directly say.  Otherwise, why the shocking vagueness and lack of specificity to this answer?  

  Indeed, the complete lack of verifiable detail in his answer, as well as mere logic, indicates the probability that Mr. Brennan falls into one of two categories:  1)  He is not being truthful in his answers for fear it might embarrass or reduce the "gravitas" and positive political impact to President Obama if it got out that, in fact, the success of this critical mission was actually owing to the enhanced interrogation policies of the Bush Administration his boss so vehemently opposed when he was a Senator (and subsequent candidate for the Presidency himself), OR 2) His lack of candor and verifiable detail is due to an ongoing need to protect valuable intelligence assets. 

  Judging however from Mr. Brennan's failure to assert any such need to protect intelligence assets, (though he doesn't say so and in all fairness isn't further pressed on this), we rather think that the latter possibility is more remote owing to the fact that Osama Bin Laden is now dead and that any living human intelligence source for the information now knows, or will know, this fact and/or is likely to have already divulged any relevant information, (or will not divulge any more due to their seeing the results and/or fear that if they become subsequently known as a "rat" it could endanger their lives from other al-Qaeda operatives if they eventually fail to be convicted or get freed from American custody as dozens of other Guantonamo detainees have).  In light of this we think it at least equally plausible that the White House's Security Chief falls into the first category.

  Indeed, taken together with what we already know about the information the Bush Administration received from its "enhanced interrogations" of top Al-Qaeda operatives Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2003 and Abu Faraj al-Libbi in 2007, (before Obama was even President), we find the former category much more pursuasive for the following reasons.  

  As we established yesterday, the joint CIA-Military interrogations of both Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi were responsible for the key information regarding the identity of the trusted " human courier" of Osama Bin Laden's that ultimately led U.S. authorities to the Pakistani compound in Abbottabad in which he was hiding.   

  Indeed, even if the Obama Administration's claims about surveillance of the Pakistani compound or "other confirming intelligence" gleaned from the unknown detainees which Mr. Brennan referenced in yesterday's press conference and/or even the Pakistan government which may have more explicitly identified this key link in the process of finding Bin Laden's hide out are true-- which this last we find particularly dubious in light of the failure of the Pakistani's to notify us of the sprawling compound located less than a mile from the Pakistani equivalent of America's "West Point"--  it still proves the Bush Administration must properly be credited in large part with the capture/death of bin laden.

 This is so because, regardless of subsequent "corroborating intelligence" regarding Osama Bin Laden's courier and the subsequent extensive surveillance of the compound, such investigation and surveillance never even would have gotten off the ground in the first place if not for the Bush Administration's enhanced interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi yielding the critical " nick name"  identity of this trusted human contact of Bin Laden's. 
 Moreover, and equally salient, due to President Obama's blanket opposition to enhanced interrogation or rendition of enemy combatants-- not to mention closure of the Eastern European 'black sites' where the enhanced interrogations were conducted by CIA operatives and his attempted closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, indeed, his first act as President was to sign an Executive Order calling for Gitmo's closure-- no interrogations at all, enhanced or otherwise would likely have taken place sufficient to yield this critical information which ultimately led to Bin Laden as there wouldn't have been anywhere to conduct any questioning at all if Obama's preferred detention policies favoring the handover of enemy combatants to the civilian federal justice system for trial and closure of interrogation facilities had been the prevailing policies at the time following 9/11 instead of the Bush Administration. (Indeed, due to the Obama Administration's policy preference for terror suspects like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi to to be processed through the criminal justice system no differently than common criminals, see here or heresuch policies would likely have resulted in these suspects-- upon being read their "Miranda rights" which our nation's Attorney General Eric Holder has suggested is appropriate for some terrorist suspects like the Times Square bomber or Christmas day bomber-- simply "lawyering up," resulting in no ability for useful intelligence to be gathered whatsoever, (a fact unaffected by Obama's subsequent backing off of such "preferred policies" and approach to terror suspects, but see here).  And this is so even if rendition and waterboarding were only used in these and one other case.  (Indeed, as far as we are concerned if such practices saved even one American life from these terrorist scum who respect no war treaties or conventions and don't fight under any nation's flag it would be worth it!)  See also GAO report on enhanced interrogation techniques and their results here.

 In light of these facts, we find it incredibly arrogant, not to mention dishonest and ungrateful, for the Obama Administration to not only act like this victory in the war on terror was all their doing but to continue to do so even after being on the receiving end of such gracious and pubic comments as have been made by both former President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, (which we cited in yesterday's post).
 As troubling as this is however, even more troubling is what all this portends vis a vis the apparent M.O. of this Administration, (we knew we could count on the President to prove his Administration was "transparent" in at least one area of his Presidency!)  Indeed, the lapse of the Obama Administration into the familiar pattern of conduct which by now has become almost expected is clear: Smear, distort and attack your political adversaries' policies, then co-opt and claim credit for them when they yield results which could help you politically, (even though you have previously undermined them at every chance you could). 

 Such political tactics share more resemblance with the logically flawed red herring, "strawman" and "ad-hominem"  arguments-- favorite logical fallacies of the left in all matters legal or political-- utilized most recently in the budget showdown with the Republican House over deficits and government spending which resulted in a last minute 'bi-partisan' compromise successful in avoiding a government shutdown, only to see President Obama subsequently, (the very next day!), turn around and slam Republicans and their chief budget policy wonk, Congressman and House budget committee Chairman, Paul Ryan (R-WI), see our post about it here.

  And while we don't know the efficacy of such tactics in the long run-- even if the American people's forgiveness and/or absentmindedness of such things is legendary-- especially so far in advance of the 2012 elections, (indeed, a year and a half is almost an eternity in politics), if history is any guide a lot rides on such "practical" considerations as the economy, the outcome of Obamacare before the U.S. Supreme court, and whether Obama can avoid any further terror attacks in coming months, all largely unknowns at this point in time.  On that score perhaps a final note about the politics and policies of the Obama Administration going forward is in order.

  Since we know the President is personally deeply opposed to enhanced interrogation techniques against the war on terror that were so helpful here-- as candidate Obama informed us in no uncertain terms in his 2008 campaign-- what could be behind the President's suddenly more strident anti-terror rhetoric and his insistence on claiming sole credit for the capture of Bin Laden and pledging anew his commitment to fight terrorism in the face of the approaching 10 year anniversary of 9/11? (Indeed, and amazingly, Obama even quoted the Pledge of Allegiance at his news conference, a political prop no other Administration has succumbed to in recent memory... We are still waiting for the liberal press corp and Congressional Democratic leadership who so mercilessly pilloried Republicans for reading the Constitution to kick off the opening of the 112th Congress to denounce this clear act of political demagoguery ;). 

 Of course, we wouldn't dare be so cynical as to wonder aloud if any of this could possibly have anything to do with the President recently kicking off his 2012 re-election campaign-- or would we?-- even in light of the known edge for Republicans on national security issues and the President needing to look more "decisive" of late, (something he has been universally criticized for from both sides of the political spectrum for everything from delay in repealing the DOMA to invading Libya... Just saying...).  But for those still unconvinced perhaps a review of our previous post(s) on Obama's dithering is in order.  We welcome you to do so by just clicking on that link.

  But all things considered, and politics aside, we should like to say that besides the death of Bin Laden there is at least one good outcome of all this in our body politic, and that is an unquestioned boost for the idea of the importance of human intelligence to our country's safety, (something the Administration has not always been so strong in, as above mentioned).

  Regardless of the political calculus that may lie behind President Obama's pro-military stance of late and public acclamations re: the role of human intelligence in the Bin Laden affair, it has at least resulted in a much-needed morale boost to the U.S. intelligence community by calling attention to the critical role intelligence plays in our nation's security. In this regard hopefully such public proclamations by the Administration will make such ideas politically impossible to retreat from in the future and translate into concrete policies that both parties could support to enhance and rebuild our national intelligence capabilities.

  In any case, and regardless of the motives of the present Administration in denying credit where credit is due, (i.e. the Bush Administration policies that made the Bin Laden victory possible), one thing is beyond question: Our armed forces, particularly the special ops experts making up "seal team six" which actually carried out this daring operation-- in addition to their civilian intelligence analysts and commanders-- deserve a debt of gratitude from all of us for their sacrifice and service to our country.

  In our perspective, no amount of politicking will, or can, change that. As we said in our last post on this subject, our hat is off to these American heroes for keeping our country safe. Moreover, whatever else is revealed in the days ahead, we also agree with President Obama on at least one thing, that "our country is safer as a result of the death of Osama Bin Laden." And on that closing note, all I can say is Amen! jp

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden killed by CIA, U.S. "Special Ops" Navy Seals in Pakistan!!!

  Tonight, May 1, 2011, President Obama declared that Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 world trade center attacks on America and head of Al Quaeda worldwide, was killed in a "firefight" between CIA and NSA-directed U.S. "special ops" Navy Seals and Bin Laden security personal today at a privately-owned compound in Pakistan, see here, (NOTE: this is being published at just after midnight and technically May 2nd).  The news began circulating shortly before 10pm Eastern that the White House had informed national news media of a "big" news item to be released in a quickly arranged and highly unusual late Sunday evening news conference.

  According to news reports and President Obama's address to the nation on the meticulously and jointly-planned CIA-NSA Special forces assault early Sunday morning, the operation utilized Blackhawk Chinook attack helicopters which landed the highly-trained Navy Seals inside the compound upon exhaustively-confirmed human intelligence of Bin Laden's presence, (indeed, one might even say the cautious nature of our President which we have often criticized was on full display, thankfully to no ill effect here).  In the ensuing 40 minute gun battle in which residents of the sprawling compound resisted American forces, Osama Bin Laden was killed by gunshot wounds to the head and the chest by U.S. Navy Seals after being given a brief chance to surrender, and, according to at least some reports, after one American helicopter was shot down by pro-Osama snipers on the roof in the initial attack, though with no American casualties, (see below).  The Administration awaited the return of conclusive DNA tests on Bin Laden's body to release the information of the attack and his demise. 

   Bush Administration 'enhanced interrogation techniques' vindicated?

  The "human intelligence" information that led U.S. forces to the conclusion-- in conjunction with further and ongoing CIA investigations in recent years that narrowed suspicions re: the occupants of the million-dollar compound located in a private resort setting near military facilities often called the 'West Point' of Pakistan in the Abbottabad district-- was originally provided from joint CIA-military questioning of enemy combatants pursuant to policies of the Bush Administration which were heavily criticized by candidate Obama in 2008 and in large part banned under his Presidency, details here and here.

  The Bush-era 2003 capture and subsequent waterboarding of Al-Qaeda terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed revealed the "nick name" of a trusted "courier" to Osama Bin Ladem, (who had ceased using all modern technology in favor of human to human communications to avoid detection by U.S. intelligence authorities).  This alleged Al-Qaeda courier's area of operations in Pakistan, as well as real identity, was subsequently confirmed by further Bush-Administration-authorized enhanced interrogations-- now banned by the Obama Administration-- of Guantuanomo-held enemy combatant Abu Faraj al-Libbi in 2007.  It is the discovery of the true identity of this trusted associate of Bin Laden's, as well as his further tracking by U.S. intelligence subsequently over the last four years, that led the Obama Adminstration to the discovery of the compound in Pakistan where Bin Laden was found and killed.

 Thus, whatever role the Obama Administration played in following up on this Bush-era information vis a vis U.S. intelligence agencies, however "augmented" it may have been with more recent and extensive "on the ground" human intelligence and surveillance of the reclusive compound in Pakistan by CIA operatives over the last six months, there can be no doubt that the success of the Obama Administration's efforts to find (and kill) Osama Bin Laden was directly tied to information gathered by Bush Administration's interrogation policies, (the very policies that Obama has expressly banned and personally renounced as being 'unreliable' and 'against our principles.'  Of course, President Obama mentioned none of these facts in his evening news conference but only his re-affirmation of the Bush-era policy authorizing the assassination of Bin Laden as if it were his own).

  As for the mission itself to actually take down Bin Laden-- which to his credit Obama did authorize--  the President gave the final go-ahead on Friday April 29 at 8:20am before leaving to view Alabama's devastation from recent storms in the South.  Originally planned for Saturday night, the operation was moved to Sunday due to inclement weather in Pakistan.  But to deny the critical role, and indeed, contribution to the entire mission's success that the Bush era policies had played, was, we feel, dishonest in the least and pure partisan one-up-man-ship for the purposes of Obama's personal political gain in the worst, (more on this below).  

      On the compound in which Osama Bin Laden was hiding    

 The sprawling 16 acre compound, seen in video here burning from the crash of a U.S. helicopter into the compound, (see below), was said to be well-constructed and defended-- replete with eighteen foot barbed-wire-topped walls, more details here-- and was located geographically less than 40 miles from the capital city of Islamabad on the outskirts of affluent suburb Abbottabad, just 100 yards from a Pakistani army base, (sure to raise thorny questions of why the sprawling compound, built in 2005 and eight times bigger than any other structure in the area, was not noticed by the Pakistani military and/or government sooner, especially in light of the 3 billion in annual aid we provide Pakistan).  The total American military operation on the ground was made up of 24 Navy seals directly involved in the assault.

   On 'civilian' casualties and 'the 'burial' of Osama Bin Laden

  In addition to the death of Bin Laden, also killed in the attacks were personal members of Bin Laden's family and entourage, including his oldest son and one of his wives which Bin Laden allegedly used as a "human shield" in a cowardly effort to save his own life.   Bin Laden's body was then seized by U.S. forces, undoubtedly photographed, and treated in accord with "Islamic practices"-- i.e., wrapped in a white sheet and interred within 24 hours-- and being accorded a Muslim burial ceremony replete with attendant Imam off the U.S. aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson, ostensibly to eliminate any chance of a "shrine" arising to the terrorist leader at any land-based burial site that could serve as a rallying point to foment further terrorist acts or martyrdom propaganda and "protests" from supporters of the 9/11 mastermind, (if there could be any?!)   In a Monday afternoon press conference split between White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and White House National security personnel, Obama Administration National Security adviser John Brennan refused to elaborate on what specific Muslim authorities were consulted on what constituted "proper" burial Muslim burial practices, but indicated that there was a Muslim "imam" present in response to a direct question on that point by Mara Liason of NPR and Fox News.

  Speculation leading up to the news conference was rampant before leaks of the substance of the impending news conference came out about half an hour before President Obama's speech, (somewhat surprising in light of the stellar success of the Administration keeping news of the highly sensitive operation under wraps).  News in the U.S. appears to have first been leaked by persons using the 'twitter' service, in "tweets" from Keith Urbhan, a former Chief of staff for Donald Rumsfeld at around 9:45pm May 1 and a Pakistani neighbor of Osama Bin Laden's who tweeted about the unusual affair of helicopters overhead in Abbottabad and "window shaking" bangs beginning at 1am local time (he subsequently connected the dots upon announcement of the U.S. President's news conference).

  Finally a note on our coverage of this issue overall.  While we here at the ACLP have often been critical of the Adminstration's policies, (especially pertaining to its views of constitutional authority, abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law), we are also duty-bound to give credit to the Administration where it is due, (even as we ask, if we can do this in Pakistan, why not in Libya and other places around the world when necessary?  Sure is cheaper in blood and treasure than full scale wars!)

  Even if Obama didn't give fill credit to an ever-gracious George W. Bush and his Administration's policies that produced the intelligence enabling the success of this operation, (see below and subsequent post), we still are grateful for Obama's decision, however belated, to go after Bin Laden.  (He could, after all, just have chosen to ignore the intelligence and let this killer continue to go free).  Of course, to what extent the President's doing so was motivated by the unpalatable thought of the political backlash in light of the rapidly approaching 2012 elections if potential inaction on his part was subsequently revealed, in much the same way as Clinton's failure to seize Bin Laden in 1996 was, we shall never know.  Even still, we are grateful for the capture of this terror mastermind regardless.  (NOTE: For whatever can be said of the downfalls of the American party system, it's moderating influence on partisan politicians is legendary and undoubtable in its desirable effects!)

    The ACLP rejoices with the American people over this victory in the war against terror!

  Accordingly, the ACLP welcomes the news of this blow to the Al Quaeda organization at the heart of terrorist attacks against America over the last 18 years, including the first world trade center attacks, the Yemen attacks against the U.S.S. Cole, and the bloody African embassy attacks, (now why couldn't we do this in Libya?)   However, and more ominously, the assault raises many questions for another day about the reliability of Pakistan as an ally in the war on terror, the Administration's inconsistencies and unwillingness to acknowledge the critical contribution of Bush-era policies and intelligence to the mission's success, and the obvious and frankly offensive political correctness of the President's actions regarding the religious 'niceties' provided Osama Bin Laden inherent in his U.S. taxpaid and Islam-approved 'sea burial,' (niceties which weren't offered to the American victims of the world trade center bombings on 9/11).

  For today however-- and mindful that the war on terror is bigger than any one Administration-- it is enough to rejoice with the American people at this wonderful victory of American against the forces of evil that would destroy our civilization.  Indeed, we think a quote from former Vice-President in reaction to these events is apt.
The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of American forces is a victory for the United States and a tremendous achievement for the military and intelligence professionals who carried out this important mission.   Their tireless work since 9/11 has made this achievement possible, and enabled us to capture or kill thousands of al Qaeda terrorists and many of their leaders.  I also want to congratulate President Obama and the members of his national security team.  At this moment when bin Laden has been brought to justice, we especially remember the sacrifice of the young Americans who've paid the ultimate price in defense of the nation, as well as the nearly 3000 Americans who lost their lives on 9/11.  Al Qaeda remains a dangerous enemy.  Though bin Laden is dead, the war goes on.  We must remain vigilant, especially now, and we must continue to support our men and women in uniform who are fighting on the front lines of this war every day.  Today, the message our forces have sent is clear -- if you attack the United States, we will find you and bring you to justice.

Statement of former Vice-President Dick Cheney on the killing of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. forces in Pakistan.

  The President's news conference: An exercise in self-gratification and denial of credit where credit is due; Bush's policies and the amazing work of the U.S. intelligence community juxtaposed against the gracious reactions of Cheney and Bush.

  The President's Sunday news conference, originally scheduled for 10:30pm Eastern Time, was repeatedly delayed, reportedly as the President called U.S. political leaders to tell them the news and put American security forces and leaders around the world on high alert for any retaliatory attacks from Al Qaeda, (which in spite of the death of its well-known leader, still continues to pose a threat to U.S. national interests).

 The death of Bin Laden was a reminder to those who would harm our nation that although American justice may be slow, it is ultimately sure, and can only be a boon for the morale of a nation still reeling from economic recession and a divided body politic.

  Politically-- even though the action was taken in large part in response to a many-years-old directive of former President Bush that Bin Laden should be taken "dead or alive," a designation making legal all government agencies and armed forces to assassinate Bin Laden-- the death of Bin Laden follows reaffirmation by the Obama Administration of this national directive and is as likely to re-invigorate the political debate over the value of so called "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding, much criticized by the political left and banned by President Obama in 2009, as it is to provide a boost for the re-election prospects of Barack Obama, (especially in light of the fact the intelligence gathered which led to Bin Laden's courier was a direct result of the very Bush policies that Obama has eschewed!)   No civilians or U.S. forces were injured in the operation, (although one of the helicopters assigned to the mission experienced an unplanned "hard landing" or was shot down by Bin Laden security forces, depending on which account you believe).

  Jubilant and triumphant celebrations broke out among crowds who spontaneously gathered at Times Square and in Washington D.C. outside the White House singing patriotic songs and celebrating the news, singing such patriotic favorites as "the Star Spangled Banner" and the patriotic anthem "God Bless America."

  The location of the custom-built walled compound where Bin Laden was killed-- in a large city in which the Pakistani military retain a military base rather than in the mountainous border region with Afghanistan which had been popularly reported to be the locale where Bin Laden had been hiding in recent years-- also raises questions as to whether and how long the Pakistani government knew of Bin Laden's presence and Pakistani support of American aims in the region generally during a time of rising tensions between America and Pakistan over the war on terror.  Nevertheless, President Obama credited the support of the Pakistani government in the human intelligence pinpointing Bin Laden's location.

  The initial intel leading to the successful assault was allegedly received last August and came from CIA led interrogations of Gitmo detainees in Cuba, a factor sure to moot any continuing insistence from the political left that the military camp at Guantanamo Bay housing "enemy combatants" be closed, (long a campaign promise of President Obama opposed by many in both parties).  While the four military equipped Blackhawk Chinook helicopters involved in the assault on the Osama compound took off from American military bases in Afghanistan, the U.S. government did not give details of the planning or mission itself to Pakistan government or military forces prior to its execution, sure to cause some controversy among elements of the Pakistan populace and political parties there.

  Calling it a "testament to the greatness of the America" and even quoting the Pledge of Allegiance in his announcement to the nation, the President stated the successful mission was a testament to the fact that America "can achieve whatever we put our minds to" and the importance of "standing up for our values abroad."  The President also emphasized that America, while dedicated to protecting the interests of the free world, is not at war with the religion of Islam generally, (but only against those who choose terror against America and her citizens).  Politically correct assurances aside, this was undoubtedly a great victory for America and her allies in the global war against terrorism.

 President Bush, reached by President Obama by telephone with the news prior to his nationally-televised speech, expressed gratitude for our armed forces and condolences to the victims of 9/11, stating,

"This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."

    The announcement of the Obama Administration must surely have been a bittersweet moment for the former President, as the failure to capture Bin Laden during George W. Bush's tenure as leader of the free world was seen by many as one of the most singularly embarrassing lapses of the Bush Administration, (which had made capture of Bin Laden and security of the nation an ongoing priority during the two terms of his Presidency).  The former President, ever gracious, also personally congratulated President Obama on the news.   Former President Clinton, criticized for allowing Osama Bin Laden to slip through his hands in Africa in 1996 due to distractions with his affair with Monica Lewinski, see here, was also personally notified by Obama.

Our hats are off to our intelligence community and the brave service men and woman involved in the planning and execution of this daring intra-Pakistan raid which resulted in achievement of one of the nation's number one security objectives!   jp

Updated May 2, 2011, 4:13pm
Updated May 3, 2011, 2:00pm, NOTE: Strikethroughs are matters of which the factual veracity, due to subsequent public statements of National Security Adviser John Brennan and other Obama Administration officials, are no longer trusted to be accurate.  SEE NEXT POST