Published: Saturday 22 December 2012
“Pakistan continues to face the fallout from the raid that led to the capture and killing of bin Laden in May 2011.”

Today we look at the capture of Osama bin Laden — the focus of the controversial new movie, "Zero Dark Thirty," which was released this week. Billed as "the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man," the film has come under harsh criticism from Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin for its depiction of torture. Meanwhile, Pakistan continues to face the fallout from the raid that led to the capture and killing of bin Laden in May 2011. Eight health workers have been killed this week during a nationwide anti-polio drive, as opposition to such immunization efforts in parts of country has increased after the fake CIA hepatitis vaccination campaign that helped locate bin Laden last year. Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic. Pakistani clerics said medical workers should not pay the price for those who collaborated with the CIA. For more, we’re joined by Matthieu Aikins, who just returned from two months in Pakistan researching what led to the capture and killing of bin Laden. His most recent article for GQ magazine is called "The Doctor, the  READ FULL POST 3 COMMENTS

Published: Thursday 13 December 2012
Published: Sunday 28 October 2012
“Bush and his neocon coterie recognized the glaring irrelevance of the Cold War era arsenal in the fight against terrorism, and that is why they invaded Iraq instead of focusing on al-Qaida and its supporters in Afghanistan.”

Poor President Obama, as Colin Powell pointed out in endorsing him Thursday, clearly holds what should be a winning hand in the war-on-terror game, and yet Mitt Romney and his neocon speechwriters won’t cut him any slack. Suddenly it’s not Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida that matter, but rather the military threat from Red China that is killing us with slick iPhones and cheap solar panels. 

Throw in some good old Russia baiting, and if Romney has his way, the military-industrial complex will get its beloved Cold War back despite the fact that the communist threat is now one of conquering space on the shelves at Wal-Mart. Obama, the naive community organizer, thinks the foreign policy debate is about national security, but Romney, the quintessential vulture capitalist, knows that it’s always been about maximizing profit. 

That is the problem with the war on terror that Obama inherited from George W. Bush but has successfully reissued as his own product line; it’s got all the patriotic bells and whistles, but as a profit center, it sucks. You just can’t logically justify spending trillions of dollars on building ever more sophisticated weapons to defeat a 9/11 style enemy equipped with weapons that can be purchased at Home Depot for a couple of hundred bucks. Another $2 billion nuclear sub, in addition to the two we already turn out every year, isn’t very useful in hunting down potential hijackers based in some desert outpost or even in an apartment in Hamburg, Germany. 

Bush and his neocon coterie recognized the glaring irrelevance of the Cold War era arsenal in the fight against terrorism, and that is why they invaded Iraq instead of focusing on al-Qaida and its supporters in Afghanistan. As Donald Rumsfeld put it, “there aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan and there are a lot of good targets in Iraq,” meaning that we could pretend it was ...

Published: Friday 19 October 2012
“At the heart of this acerbic relationship, however, is Pakistan’s arsenal of 110 nuclear bombs which, if the country were to disintegrate, could fall into the hands of Islamist militants, possibly from inside its own security establishment.”

 

 

The United States and Pakistan are by now a classic example of a dysfunctional nuclear family (with an emphasis on “nuclear”). While the two governments and their peoples become more suspicious and resentful of each other with every passing month, Washington and Islamabad are still locked in an awkward post-9/11 embrace that, at this juncture, neither can afford to let go of.

Washington is keeping Pakistan, with its collapsing economy and bloated military, afloat but also cripplingly dependent on its handouts and U.S.-sanctioned International Monetary Fund loans.  Meanwhile, CIA drones unilaterally strike its tribal borderlands.  Islamabad returns the favor. It holds Washington hostage over its Afghan War from which the Pentagon won’t be able to exit in an orderly fashion without its help. By blocking U.S. and NATO supply routes into Afghanistan (after a U.S. cross-border air strike had killed 24 Pakistani soldiers) from November 2011 until last July, Islamabad managed to ratchet up the cost of the war while underscoring its indispensability to the Obama administration.

At the heart of this acerbic relationship, however, is Pakistan’s arsenal of 110 nuclear bombs which, if the country were to disintegrate, could fall into the hands of Islamist militants, possibly from inside its own security establishment. As Barack Obama confided to his aides, this remains his worst foreign-policy nightmare, despite the decision of the U.S. Army to

Published: Thursday 27 September 2012
Confronting the stark contrast between life imagined and life revealed can prove to be a daunting task.

 

Weltschmerz (from German; from Welt (world) + Schmerz (pain) delineates the type of sadness experienced when the world revealed does not reflect the image of the world that one believes, or has been led to believe, should exist. The corporate/consumer state (as well as, its scion, the present day presidential election cycle) has brought us, as a people, into a wilderness of weltschmerz. 

 

Confronting the stark contrast between life imagined and life revealed can prove to be a daunting task. It is an endeavor that has proven particularly difficult for political partisans, both professional and rank and file, who seem unwilling or unable to grasp the sense of futility experienced by significant numbers of their fellow citizens regarding political participation, on any level, including the act of voting under the corrupted to the core structure of the current system. 

 

Such reactions are understandable. Exercises in futility prove enervating. Disenchanted, sizable and increasing numbers of voters have tuned out and walked away from the process, due to the abject refusal of the political class to be responsive to the needs of the populace beyond the elitist-ridden New York/DC nexus of privilege and power.

 

Yet, rank and file political partisans, all too often, resist gaining awareness of the extent of their powerlessness. This is understandable as well. Feelings of powerlessness can engender despair. To avoid despair, one feels as though one must remain active in order to avoid sinking into the muck and mire borne of chronic hopelessness. True enough. But activity towards what end? Does the activity, such as voting along partisan lines, reinforce states of powerlessness by serving the forces of one's oppression?

 

Despite all the cultural cues that we have internalized, one cannot consume, medicate, buy on credit, receive a promotion, vacation, vote, hope, affect a ...

Published: Sunday 16 September 2012
“It took President Obama, against the advice of many, to give that order and finally rid this earth of Osama bin Laden.”

Jingoistic platitudes were all the rage at the recently-completed Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Foreign Policy Magazine’s Uri Friedman reported that Democratic Party apparatchiks used Osama Bin Laden’s name, in bragging about slaughtering him, some 21 times during the DNC. By way of contrast, according to Friedman’s count, there was only one mention of Bin Laden at the Republican National Convention, which took place the week before in Tampa.

One of the more memorable lines, in making the case for another four years in office for the 2009 Nobel Prize Peace Prize winning Laureate-in-Chief, came from U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). He stated (emphasis mine),

And after more than — after more than 10 years without justice for thousands of Americans murdered on 9/11, after Mitt Romney said it would be naive to go into Pakistan to pursue the terrorists, it took President Obama, against the advice of many, to give that order and finally rid this earth of Osama bin Laden.

Ask Osama bin Laden is he is better off now than he was four years ago.

Vice President Joe Biden went so far to boast triumphantly, “Osama Bin Laden is ...

Published: Friday 14 September 2012
“Only a tiny percentage of voters in November will have read the article or will have any idea that the US military is so, um, active in so many places around the world some two decades after the end of the Cold War.”

 

 

 

A recent article in Nation of Change (Tom Engelhardt, "Monopolizing War", September 13, 2012) starts with a multiple choice question about Marines carrying out combat operations in a certain foreign country. The article goes on to list nine possible answers (that's right, boys and girls, not the usual four) – and one of the choices wasn't "all of the above.” It turns out it was a trick question.  In fact, the correct answer was all of the countries on the list, to include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Central Africa, Northern Mali, the Philippines, and Guatemala.

 

Only a tiny percentage of voters in November will have read the article or will have any idea that the US military is so, um, active in so many places around the world some two decades after the end of the Cold War.  Okay, okay.  Let's not forget that the shocking events of 9-11 changed the game 11 years ago (as we are all gravely reminded every year at this very time with a barrage of hair-raising, heart-breaking images, look-backs, documentaries, op-eds, flags, and bumper-stickers).

 

We're in a war.  On terror.  It's different from all other wars.  Even the Cold War.  Different from all the wars that have ever been fought.  Anywhere.  Anytime.  It's a war without end.  Against a fanatical, hate-filled enemy that is also invisible, amorphous, and relentless.   An enemy that has no state and no army, navy, or air force.  An enemy that cannot be defeated by conventional or unconventional military means.  Or nuclear weapons.  Ever.

Published: Saturday 1 September 2012
Published: Thursday 21 June 2012
“Angry Republicans (and their media enablers at Fox News, et al.) insist that the White House must have leaked information about the president's terrorist ‘kill list,’ the success of drone strikes and the killing of Osama bin Laden to improve the president’s martial image and re-election prospects.”

 

This week, Republicans on Capitol Hill opened yet another front in their continuous sniping against the Obama administration, the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder. Having demanded a federal investigation of intelligence leaks, they now claim to be outraged because Holder has asked two United States attorneys to conduct that probe — and one of the two happens to be a Democrat.

Angry Republicans (and their media enablers at Fox News, et al.) insist that the White House must have leaked information about the president's terrorist "kill list," the success of drone strikes and the killing of Osama bin Laden to improve the president's martial image and re-election prospects. Never mind that they fawned over the Bush White House, regardless of its leaks and even its unlawful disclosure of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity. That was then, of course — and now the alleged leaks of national security material from a Democratic administration enrage them.

Whether those stories emanated from the Obama White House or not, someone must have tipped off The New York Times, which first reported the "kill list," among other things. So consistent with President Obama's evident obsession about stanching leaks, Holder appointed Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, to oversee an investigation and potential prosecution of the leakers.

Published: Wednesday 20 June 2012
Published: Sunday 10 June 2012
Published: Friday 8 June 2012
Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012
“If massive civilian drone deaths get recorded with the precision of drone strikes, won't historians indict this program as state-sanctioned terrorism?”

Talk about starting your military career at the top, with guns blazing. On point, Obama's leaked, instantly notorious drone war represents the next costly surge against stealthy insurgents, perhaps a few genuine terrorists. But thanks to his high moral intentions, confirmed by the NY Times, these still qualify as “devoutly non-ideological" strikes. 

 

Otherwise, we might equate Obama with full-fledged GOP crusaders who broke international rules and went badly rogue in Iraq. Nevertheless, this warrior campaigner follows the Queen's Rules of Roguery: never retreat, just reload when gunning down home-grown, though unindicted, citizen evil-doers. Yet should we not worry that Obama's military legacy (pace G. Wallace) will blaze into history as "drones today, drones tomorrow, drones forever?" 

 

The rousing campaigner who once critiqued "dumb" militarism and Bush rights violations finishes his "Full Romney," flip-flopping on rights violations his campaign assailed by charging ahead as hands-on Drone Master. I tell you, change is getting painfully hard to believe in. Unprecedented White House Hit Squads, however, fuel the Obama bio-pic to come, chock-a-block with bin Laden contract, renditions, tribunals, secret prisons, even cyber-attacks on saber-rattlers. 

 

Think of the high drama, the biting irony of the Nobel Peace winner who embraces the Bush-McCain's Violence-First brigade, with musical motifs of "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." Alas, the poignant tragedy of "The Unbearable Heaviness of Being Obama." Democratic fingers on the drone console displace nightmares of another secretive hawk running virtual cockpits, V.P. Richard Cheney. 

 

Oh no, not another war criminal

 

In retrospect, Bush's "Mission Accomplished" mock-up glimmers darkly as ...

Published: Monday 4 June 2012
“The nerve-center of climate-change denial, it was supposed to draw attention to the fact that “the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists.”

 

It’s been a tough few weeks for the forces of climate-change denial.

First came the giant billboard with Unabomber Ted Kacynzki’s face plastered across it: “I Still Believe in Global Warming. Do You?” Sponsored by the Heartland Institute, the nerve-center of climate-change denial, it was supposed to draw attention to the fact that “the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.” Instead it drew attention to the fact that these guys had over-reached, and with predictable consequences.

A hard-hitting campaign from a new group called Forecast the Facts persuaded many of the corporations backing Heartland to withdraw $825,000 in funding; an entire wing of the Institute, devoted to helping the insurance industry, calved off to form its own nonprofit. Normally friendly politicians like Wisconsin Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner announced that they would boycott the group’s annual conference unless the billboard campaign was ended.

Which it was, before the billboards with Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden could be unveiled, but not before the damage was done: Sensenbrenner spoke at last month’s conclave, but attendance was way down at the annual gathering, and Heartland leaders announced that there were no plans for another of the yearly fests. Heartland’s head, Joe Bast,

Published: Sunday 6 May 2012
“It isn’t just that Obama has managed to turn a positive, something he did well, into a negative by attacking, using it as a partisan weapon which diminishes him, also it diminishes the solemnity of the event, which was a national event, and he used it, he appropriated it for himself.”

Fox News figures are promoting an ad produced by Veterans for a Strong America that deceptively edited statements by President Obama to portray him as taking all the credit for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. In fact, fuller context of the speeches that the ad excerpts makes clear that Obama did give credit to the troops for the bin Laden raid, a fact that Fox's own Megyn Kelly has noted.

During the May 3 edition of Fox News' Special Report, guest host John Roberts said that Veterans for a Strong America has released an ad "accusing President Obama of spiking the football over Osama bin Laden." Fox then aired part of the ad saying that "heroes don't spike the football." After comments from The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol and Fox contributor Kirsten Powers, Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer said "[t]his is a very strong ad" that "simply shows the words Obama has used himself, so the facts are not in dispute." He continued: 

KRAUTHAMMER: And it hits at several levels. It isn't just that Obama has managed to turn a positive, something he did well, into a negative by attacking, using it as a partisan weapon which diminishes him, also it diminishes the solemnity of the event, which was a national event, and he used it, he appropriated it for himself. It is the narcissism, and that is the deeper issue here, how they quote Obama again and again, using the first personal pronoun in his announcement of the event. It's all about me, I, commander-in-chief, I ordered, I did this. What about the guys out there who did it and who risked their lives? And secondly, this idea that what was at stake was the political fortunes of the president if the lives of his own soldiers whom he ordered into battle were lost. That is devastating because I think it speaks to an underlying issue with Obama, of the self-regard and the narcissism that is implicit ...

Published: Friday 4 May 2012
Published: Thursday 3 May 2012
Published: Thursday 3 May 2012
“Obama’s cool order to kill bin Laden, in a moment of considerable risk to his presidency, finally debunked the decade of smears against Democrats as unpatriotic, wimpish and unreliable.”

 

Nothing aggravates Republicans like seeing nasty, effective tactics upon which they have so long relied being turned against one of their candidates. So when Barack Obama's re-election campaign aired an ad celebrating the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death — and suggesting that Mitt Romney wouldn't have achieved that objective — the right exploded with outraged protests.

 

Evidently, the feelings of longtime hatchet men like Bush-era party chair Ed Gillespie, ex-Bush flack Ari Fleischer and the editorial writers at The Wall Street Journal, to name a few, were really, really hurt — because the Obama campaign exploited a moment of national unity for partisan advantage.

 

"This is one of the reasons President Obama has become one of the most divisive presidents in American history," said Gillespie, now a Romney adviser.

 

To anyone with a functioning memory, however, this whining is implausible. So are the dire predictions that the president will somehow offend voters by claiming credit for whacking bin Laden (or by smacking Romney). During the Bush presidency, Republicans used precisely the same approach and worse, over and over, without fretting whether their words and ads were "divisive."

 

It began weeks after the 9/11 attacks, amid sincere pledges of patriotic cooperation from congressional Democrats, when Karl Rove told the Republican National Committee that their party would "go to the country on this issue" to win the midterm elections in 2002. They won a historic victory by sliming wounded Vietnam hero Max Cleland and former Air Force intelligence officer Tom Daschle as stooges of al-Qaida.

 

Bush's 2004 re-election campaign amplified the same themes, with advertising and pageantry at the Republican convention in New York City grossly exploiting 9/11, a series of conveniently timed terror ...

Published: Friday 27 April 2012
Published: Monday 6 February 2012
“For Washington, ‘offshore’ means the world’s boundary-less waters and skies, but also, more metaphorically, it means being repositioned off the coast of national sovereignty and all its knotty problems.”

Make no mistake: we’re entering a new world of military planning.  Admittedly, the latest proposed Pentagon budget manages to preserve just about every costly toy-cum-boondoggle from the good old days when MiGs still roamed the skies, including an uncut nuclear arsenal.  Eternally over-budget items like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, cherished by their services and well-lobbied congressional representatives, aren’t leaving the scene any time soon, though delays or cuts in purchase orders are planned.  All this should reassure us that, despite the talk of massive cuts, the U.S. military will continue to be the profligate, inefficient, and remarkably ineffective institution we’ve come to know and squander our treasure on.

Still, the cuts that matter are already in the works, the ones that will change the American way of war.  They may mean little in monetary terms -- the Pentagon budget is actually slated to increase through 2017 -- but in imperial terms they will make a difference.  A new way of preserving the embattled idea of an American planet is coming into focus and one thing ...

Published: Monday 30 January 2012
The doctor has turned into a bargaining chip within the failing U.S-Pakistan alliance.

A senior American official has for the first time admitted that a Pakistani doctor played a key role in tracking Osama bin Laden to his hideout in northern Pakistan and called for his release.

The comments by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were the first public confirmation of a part of the bin Laden operation revealed by McClatchy Newspapers in July last year, about how the CIA used Shakil Afridi to try to establish whether the al Qaida leader was really living in a large house in Abbottabad, northern Pakistan.

Afridi has been in Pakistani custody since the country's own spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), discovered the secret task performed by the doctor, who set up a fake vaccination program in Abbottabad in a bid to gain DNA samples from those staying at the suspect compound.

The CIA was never certain that bin Laden was present in the house. Afridi worked for the American intelligence agency in the weeks leading up to the May 2 U.S. special forces raid, setting up an elaborate scheme that was supposedly going house to house to vaccinate residents in Abbottabad.

Panetta, speaking to CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview to be broadcast Sunday night, also voiced his belief that elements within Pakistan must have known that bin Laden, or at least someone significant, was ...

Published: Monday 30 January 2012
“Obama previewed his election arguments in a philosophically aggressive way.”

It was to be expected that, in the course of his State of the Union address, President Obama would mention the killing of Osama bin Laden, whose death represented the culmination of the battle against terrorism that began on Sept. 11, 2001.

Far less expected was Obama’s use of the bin Laden episode to present a community-minded worldview that contrasts so sharply with the highly individualistic and anti-government message that has been heard over and over from the Republicans seeking to replace him.

 

At the very beginning of his speech, the president pivoted from “the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s armed forces” to the post-World War II nation of his Kansas grandparents. If the war against fascism was followed by “a story of success that every American had a chance to share,” surely we can find our way again to “an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

READ FULL POST 5 COMMENTS

Published: Saturday 28 January 2012
“It would have been far better if Obama had simply read out selected portions of Mitt Romney's tax returns, which the Mormon millionaire released yesterday with spectacularly bad timing.”

Does one await a presidential State of the Union address with keen anticipation? It's like saying one looks forward to taking a niece to "The Nutcracker." The last time I truly enjoyed one — the speech, not the ballet — was Bill Clinton's in 1998, and it wasn't because of anything he said. It was his terrific aplomb, despite the fact that the Monica Lewinsky scandal was breaking over his head. He got a bounce of 10 points, from 59 to 69 percent popular approval.

The message was clear. We the people couldn't care less about Lewinsky. In fact, we the people thoroughly approved. The following year, the U.S. Senate was trying him for impeachment, after months of steady servings in the press of Lewinsky's semen-stained dress, and here was Clinton as bouncy as ever, rock solid at 69 percent.

Normally, the American people don't set much stock by State of the Union addresses. Half the times Ronald Reagan — "The Great Communicator" — gave the annual speech across his two terms in office, he promptly sank in the polls by three or four points.

By all rights, Obama should be a natural at the job. The desired mix is inspirational — his forte — and notionally programmatic, though the history books are knee-deep in empty pledges made on such occasions. But somehow the methodical ...

Published: Friday 6 January 2012
In addition to the Pentagon investigation, the CIA has decided to craft a written policy about how its public affairs division works with authors and filmmakers, the agency said in letter to King released Thursday.

Did the Obama administration release classified information to Hollywood notables for a film about the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, Sony Pictures movie slated for release in the heat of this fall's election campaign?

That's a question Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., wants answered. And in response, the Pentagon's inspector general has launched an investigation, King disclosed Thursday.

"We plan to begin subject investigation immediately," Patricia A. Brannin, deputy inspector general for intelligence and special program assessments, wrote in a memo that King emailed to reporters.

At issue ...

Published: Monday 12 September 2011
Throughout, there was sense of quiet resolve, even pride that the United States did not buckle as terror mastermind Osama bin Laden had hoped.

With simple and solemn ceremony, the United States marked the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks Sunday in emotional tributes that recalled the sacrifice of thousands of lives, not just on that day a decade ago, but in the bloody conflicts that have raged since.

Americans of every stripe, from presidents to firefighters to average citizens, paused to honor the dead in churches, at the sites of the attacks, and in living rooms across the country. Church bells rang. Prayers were read aloud. Choirs sang.

In New York, the focus was on those killed in the World Trade Center, their names now engraved on bronze panels that will long bear witness to the tragedy.

In Pennsylvania, it was on the passengers who sacrificed their lives seizing United Flight 93 from terrorists before it could hit the Capitol or White House.

And at the Pentagon in Virginia, eyes moistened at the memory not only of the 184 killed there, but also for the 6,000-plus members of the armed services who’ve died in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Throughout, there was sense of quiet resolve, even pride that the United States did not buckle as terror mastermind Osama bin Laden had hoped.

“Al Qaida and bin Laden never imagined that the 3,000 would inspire three million to put on the uniform and hardened the resolve of 300 million Americans,” Vice President Joe Biden said at the Pentagon.

“We have remained at war ever since,” said Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “visiting upon our enemies the vengeance they were due.”

At a memorial concert Sunday night at the Kennedy Center, the last official event of the long day of remembrance, President Barack Obama recalled “what has not changed.”

“Our character as a nation has not changed. Our faith — in God and each other — has not changed. Our belief in America...has only been strengthened, “ ...

Published: Thursday 8 September 2011
“Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq remain among the poorest, most violent and corrupt countries while such oil companies as Exxon Mobile, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Petronas have signed contracts with Baghdad to ensure themselves humongous rewards for decades to come.”

In the hours immediately after the 9/11 attacks, before so many theories muddied the airwaves, there was the clear sense that the scale of the operation would have had to involve at least one foreign sovereign state.

By mid-afternoon, then-CIA chief George Tenet laid the blame squarely on Al Qaeda. Mohamed Atta and 18 other hijackers were identified within 72 hours.

In November 2001, U.S. forces in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, uncovered a videotape which showed Osama bin Laden gloat about his victory.

End of the story--or so it seemed.

Connecting the dots, and the Bush Administration’s seeming failure to do so, obsessed the media for weeks and months to come. Doing so, however, despite officially touted “complexities,” was in fact exceedingly easy, some of the key events having taken place right under official noses in Washington, D.C.

By October 2001, ABC News, Fox and CNN were reporting a fund transfer of $100,000 in early August of that year from Dubai to two Florida bank accounts held by the 9/11 ringleader Atta. On October 6, CNN identified the man who had sent the money—one Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Yet, when questioned about him, the White House in its news briefings managed to prevent the story from gaining further traction by creating confusion through usage of aliases and alternate spellings for Sheikh’s name.

In his memoir, “In the Line of Fire,” former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf writes, “Omar Sheikh is a British national born to Pakistani parents in London on December 23, 1973. . . . He … went to the London School of Economics but dropped out before graduation. It is believed . . . that . . . he was recruited by the British intelligence agency MI-6.”

The Bush Administration knew that Sheikh had been sent by MI6 to Pakistan to cooperate with its counterpart, the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI). Protecting Britain and Pakistan as two ...

Published: Saturday 27 August 2011
Published: Monday 22 August 2011
“How Washington lost faith in America’s courts.”

As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the unexpected extent of the damage Americans have done to themselves and their institutions is coming into better focus.  The event that “changed everything” did turn out to change Washington in ways more startling than most people realize.  On terrorism and national security, to take an obvious (if seldom commented upon) example, the confidence of the U.S. government seems to have been severely, perhaps irreparably, shaken when it comes to that basic and essential American institution: the courts.

If, in fact, we are a “nation of laws,” you wouldn’t know it from Washington’s actions over the past few years. Nothing spoke more strikingly to that loss of faith, to our country’s increasing incapacity for meeting violence with the law, than the widely hailed decision to kill rather than capture Osama bin Laden.

Clearly, a key factor in that decision was a growing belief, widely shared within the national-security establishment, that none of our traditional or even newly created tribunals, civilian or military, could have handled a bin Laden trial.  Washington’s faith went solely to Navy SEALs zooming into another country’s sovereign airspace on a moonless night on a mission to assassinate bin Laden, whether he offered the slightest resistance or not.  It evidently seemed so much easier to the top officials overseeing the operation -- and so much less messy -- than bringing a confessed mass murderer into a courtroom in, or even anywhere near, the United States.

The decision to kill bin Laden on sight rather than capture him and bring him to trial followed hard on the heels of an ignominious Obama administration climb-down on its plan to try the “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or KSM, in a federal court in New York City.  Captured in Pakistan in May 2003 and transferred to Guantanamo in ...

Published: Wednesday 3 August 2011
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