As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

But Does Al Qaeda Know How Many Flag Pins We Wear?

This could be a good topic for a future debate, in a bizarro America where such things are more important than someone's pastor.

Here is the title of a report from the General Accountability Office on combating terrorism released today:

The United States Lacks a Comprehensive Plan to Destroy the Terrorist Threat and Close the Safe Haven in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

That is not some line buried in the report. That is the title. Wow.

But wait, there's more!

No comprehensive plan for meeting U.S. national security goals in the FATA has been developed, as stipulated by the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (2003), called for by an independent commission (2004), and mandated by congressional legislation (2007). Furthermore, Congress created the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in 2004 specifically to develop comprehensive plans to combat terrorism. However, neither the National Security Council (NSC), NCTC, nor other executive branch departments have developed a comprehensive plan that includes all elements of national power—diplomatic, military, intelligence, development assistance, economic, and law enforcement support—called for by the various national security strategies and Congress [...]

al Qaeda’s central leadership, based in the border area of Pakistan, is and will remain the most serious terrorist threat to the United States… al Qaeda is now using the Pakistani safe haven to put the last element necessary to launch another attack against America into place [...]

al Qaeda is now using the Pakistani safe haven to put the last element necessary to launch another attack against America into place, including the identification, training, and positioning of Western operatives for an attack. It stated that al Qaeda is most likely using the FATA to plot terrorist attacks against political, economic, and infrastructure targets in America “designed to produce mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the population."

So then you're saying that, nearly seven years into the so-called "war on terror," Al Qaeda has regrouped, found safe haven, and is planning attacks on Americans, and we have literally no strategy to combat it?

There's a germ of a news story here. It has almost nothing to do with William Ayers, granted, but surely it's good for the final two minutes of some local broadcast in Fresno.

It was obvious this would be the result of moving on to Iraq and neglecting Afghanistan or any comprehensive global effort against terrorism. Actually the funniest part (yes, there is one) of this report comes in the recommendations, where you see the polite version of Bush-speak for "Hard work! Not my fault!"

GAO recommends that the National Security Advisor and the Director of the NCTC, in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense and State and others, implement the congressional mandate to develop a comprehensive plan to combat the terrorist threat and close the safe haven in the FATA. Defense and USAID concurred with the recommendation; State asserted that a comprehensive strategy exists, while the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated that plans to combat terrorism exist. In GAO’s view, these plans have not been formally integrated into a comprehensive plan as called for by Congress. The NSC provided no comments.

You know, this is actually serious. Global terrorism has become a legitimate threat once again after a halfhearted effort to stop it, precisely because of failed policy choices and neglect of regional trouble spots. This is the fundamental problem with Iraq, as Joe Biden expressed in last week's hearings. We are holding our foreign policy hostage to events in Iraq that we have little hope of affecting, while the worsening situation with a resurgent Al Qaeda goes unchecked. We've lost many thousands on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the overall rationale for their deaths - to disable terrorist networks and prevent future 9-11's from happening - is a failure. A total, unmitigated failure.

I know this is a non-flag-pin-related query, and i do apologize to the elite press who manage our discourse. I could add that nobody really sees John McCain wearing a flag pin, either, but he's very manly and a hero.

Still, you know, this could be covered. Maybe while the credits are rolling on the nightly news.

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