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Showing posts with label Daily Telegraph. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daily Telegraph. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Barack Obama Gets an 'F' for Protecting Americans


Toby Harnden, is the Daily Telegraph's Washington Editor. He cannot be seen as an apologist for the Bush administration, a "birther," a Republican, or a "right-wing zealot." He is a foreign correspondent with no political ax to grind. And he has just published the most damning summary of the Obama administration's failure to protect Americans. His catalog of how our illegitimate President is endangering the lives of Americans follows:

1. Abdulmutallab’s father spoke several times to the US Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria and visited a CIA officer there to tell him, apparently, that he feared his son was a jihadist being trained in Yemen. According to CNN, the CIA officer wrote up a report, which then sat in the CIA headquarters at Langley for several weeks without being disseminated to the rest of the intelligence community. This was not just a casual encounter. Again according to CNN, there were at least two face-to-face meetings, telephone calls and written correspondence with the father. If it’s true that the CIA sat on this then it beggars belief.

2. After 9/11, the huge bureaucracies of the Homeland Security Department and the Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI) were created. Inside the DNI, the National Counter Terrorism Center was created. These organisations were created to “connect the dots”. It may well be that the fault lay with NCTC and not the CIA – CIA spokesman George Little says here that “key biographical information” and information about “possible extremist connections in Yemen” was passed to NCTC. If NCTC knew about it, then did someone at the National Security Council within the White House? There’s a huge blame game beginning so we’ll no doubt know soon enough.

3. It wasn’t just the meeting with the father. According to CBS, “as early as August of 2009 the Central Intelligence Agency was picking up information on a person of interest dubbed ‘The Nigerian’ suspected of meeting with ‘terrorist elements’ in Yemen”. So there were other parts of the jigsaw that were not put together.

4. In his studied desire to be the unBush by responding coolly to events like this, Obama is dangerously close to failing as a leader. Yes, it is good not to shoot from the hip and make broad assertions without the facts. But Obama took three days before speaking to the American people, emerging on Monday in between golf and tennis games in Hawaii to deliver a rather tepid address that significantly underplayed what happened. He described Abdulmutallab as an “isolated extremist” who “allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body” – phrases that indicate a legalistic, downplaying approach that alarms rather than reassures. Today’s words showed a lot more fire and desire to get on top of things – we’ll see whether Obama follows through with action. In the meantime, he went snorkelling.

5. There has been a pattern developing with the Obama administration trying to minimise terrorist attacks. We saw it with Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, a Muslim convert who murdered a US Army recruit in Little Rock, Arkansas in June. We saw it with Major Nidal Malik Hassan, a Muslim with Palestinian roots who slaughtered 13 at Fort Hood, Texas last month. In both cases, there were Yemen connections. Obama began to take the same approach with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. We’ll see whether this incident shakes him out of that complacency. Whether it’s called the war on terror or not, it’s clear that the US is at war against al-Qaeda and radical Islamists.

6. Guantanamo Bay. It seems that two of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) planners behind this attack were released from Guantanamo Bay during the Bush administration. That calls into question the competence of Bush administration officials but also the wisdom of closing Guantanamo Bay. How many other enemies of America and the West are going to be released back to the battlefield? As Mike Goldfarb asks: “Is the Obama administration seriously still considering sending some 90 Yemeni detainees now being held at Gitmo back to their country of origin, where al Qaeda are apparently running around with impunity?”

7. Janet Napolitano, Obama’s Homeland Security Chief, has been a distaster in this, exhibiting the kind of bureaucratic complacency that makes ordinary citizens want to go postal. On Sunday, she told CNN that “one thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked” and ABC News that “once the incident occurred, the system worked”. A day later, she grumbled that quoted “out of context” before reversing herself, telling NBC: “Our system did not work in this instance. No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way.” The “system worked” comment was a “heckuva job, Brownie” moment. Is she up to the job?

8. Will Obama hold individuals accountable? Briefing the press today behind a cloak of anonymity as a “Senior Administration Official”, Denis McDonough, NSC chief of staff (he gave the game away by saying he was from Minnesota), said that Obama “intends to demand accountability at the highest levels” before adding: ” It remains to be seen what that means exactly.” If heads don’t roll – and soon – then Obama’s words will seem hollow. It’s an opportunity for him to show some real steel.

9. There’s a continued, unfortunate tendency for everyone in Obamaland to preface every comment about something going wrong with a sideswipe against the Bush administration. On Sunday, Bill Burton, Deputy White House Press Secretary, briefed: “On the Sunday shows, Robert Gibbs and Secretary Napolitano made clear that we are pressing ahead with securing our nation against threats and our aggressive posture in the war with al Qaeda. We are winding down a war in Iraq that took our eye off of the terrorists that attacked us, and have dramatically increased our resources in Afghanistan and Pakistan where those terrorists are.” Why pat yourself on the back for “winding down a war in Iraq that took our eye off of the terrorists that attacked us” when the issue at hand is why the US government under Obama, er, took its eyes off a terrorist who did try to attack us and nearly killed 300 people? It’s bordering on the juvenile. Obama’s been president for a year now. It’s time for him to accept that things that happen as his responsibility, not Bush’s. It’s time for him to echo Ronald Reagan, who said over Iran-Contra: “I take full responsibility for my own actions and for those of my administration.”

10. Will there be US air attacks against targets in Yemen? Watch this space. It’s safe to say that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP, described to me by a senior intelligence official today as “officially recognised and in corporate terms a sanctioned franchise of al-Qaeda” that is plainly now seeking to become an international rather than just a regional Islamist player.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Even the Special Relationship is in Tatters

One is inclined to wonder if a President who has managed to bungle every aspect of American foreign relations isn't at least partly responsible for damaging the noble and historic alliance of the United States and Britain; a relationship that has endured since before the Second World War. But the situation described by Melanie Phillips will be mended by the good will and good sense of the British and American people when they replace the big government, big spending, socialists occupying Number 10 and the White House.

When Britain and America stand together, the world is a much safer place. The words of Longfellow, that Roosevelt sent to Churchill, are as true of today's crisis as they were then:

Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!

Sail on, O Union, strong and great!

Humanity with all its fears, With all the hopes of future years,

Is hanging breathless on thy fate!


No Longer So Special
By Melanie Phillips

You read it here first: Britain’s relationship with the US is no longer so special, and France and Germany are filling the gap. The Telegraph reports:

The White House no longer views Britain as its most loyal ally in Europe since Gordon Brown took office and is instead increasingly turning towards France and Germany, according to Bush administration sources. ‘There’s concern about Brown,’ a senior White House foreign policy official told The Daily Telegraph. ‘But this is compensated by the fact that Paris and Berlin are much less of a headache. The need to hinge everything on London as the guarantor of European security has gone’.

…Privately, White House aides accept that Mr Brown would not support military action against Iran. There is also disquiet about what US officials view as double dealing by special advisers briefing an anti-White House message in London and a more favourable one in Washington. ‘That sort of manoeuvring is not appreciated,’ said one diplomatic source.

Indeed; and it is not appreciated by the British electorate, either, which if it really believes that Gordon Brown has drawn a line under the era of manipulation and spin is in for a very rude shock indeed. Brown’s spinning makes Tony Blair look like a rank amateur, because Brown does sincerity so much better. However, scales fell off eyes only yesterday with the Prime Minister’s cynical stunt in Iraq, which committed the unforgiveable crime of using British troops in a theatre of war as mere election fodder – and also betrayed his promise to tell Parliament before anyone else about troop dispositions in Iraq.

Such cavalier disregard of the most critical issue of our time is all of a piece with Britain’s precipitate withdrawal from Basra, at the very time that the US is battling its own domestic quisling tendency in order to stay the course and win in Iraq, even if this takes many years (which it will). The consequences of America shouldering this burden without Britain will be very grave indeed — for Britain. In his deeply irresponsible attempt to buy off the baying British mob, incited by its media and intelligentsia to an unprecedented pitch of hysteria, prejudice and irrationality over Iraq, Gordon Brown is acting against British interests—as well as taking a shameful position on the most fateful issue facing the free world.

If Britain stands aside over Iran, leaving America to take alone the decision to use military force — surely inevitable, as John Bolton said in Blackpool this week, given the conspicuous failure of the vacuous diplomatic approach pursued by Britain and Europe which has only strengthened Iran and weakened the west — the consequences for Britain will be immeasurable. It will be marked for all time as having turned away from what needed to be done to defend the west; by its spinelessness it will have betrayed its own history and signalled the inescapable reality of its own cultural and moral decline; and it will achieve the lasting resentment of America, with an end to any British influence over its activities and the possible eclipse of Britain on the world stage.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

Daily Telegraph On The Enduring Alliance

It was reassuring that in his first visit to America as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown invoked the words of Sir Winston Churchill:
We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.
Despite much battering in recent years ("Yo Blair" comes to mind), today's Daily Telegraph reflects on why the Anglo-American relationship remains important.