Author Archives: Administrator
A Mismanage-able Problem
Obama’s belief that he can “manage” the Islamic State may collide with reality.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
President Obama says he intends to shrink the al-Qaeda-spawned Islamic State into a “manageable problem.” Perhaps we’ll learn more about how when he speaks to the nation on Wednesday evening. Still, the question presses: Is he the manager for the job?
In answering that question, past performance is more a guarantee of future results than is any statement of newfound purpose from a president whose innate dishonesty has turned his signature phrase “Let me be clear” into notorious self-parody.
In late September 2012, Mr. Obama’s administration quietly approved the transfer of 55 jihadist prisoners out of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. As Tom Joscelyn explained at the time, most of the detainees had previously been categorized as “high risk” because they were deemed “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies” if released. Almost all of the rest had been assessed “medium risk” — still posing a threat, albeit one less certain than the “high risk” jihadists.
But Obama officials overruled those judgments. Rife with members of the Lawyer Left vanguard who had stampeded to volunteer their services to al-Qaeda detainees during the Bush years, who had smeared Gitmo as a gulag, and who had fought bitterly against the Bush/Cheney paradigm that regarded al-Qaeda’s jihad as a war rather than a crime wave, the administration determined that the anti-American terrorists were fit to be sprung from American custody.
Wait a second . . . two years ago in September . . . what was going on then? Why yes, the Benghazi massacre — whose second anniversary we mark this Thursday.
The Obama administration would like us to forget that bit of old news since “dude, this was like two years ago.” You may nonetheless recall it as an act of war in which al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists attacked a sovereign American government compound. The terrorists murdered our ambassador to Libya, killed three other Americans, and wounded many more in an eight-hour siege during which President Obama declined to take any meaningful responsive action. Indeed, agents of the U.S. security team in Benghazi say they were prevented from trying to save Ambassador Stevens.
Among those carrying out the attack were operatives of Ansar al-Sharia. That’s the al-Qaeda affiliate with cells in Eastern Libya’s jihadist hotbeds, Benghazi and Derna. Ansar is led by Sufian Ben Qumu, a former Gitmo detainee who, inexorably, went right back to the jihad.
News of Obama’s approval of the mass transfer of Gitmo detainees came less than two weeks after the Benghazi massacre. Let that sink in: The Obama administration knew that a former Gitmo detainee was complicit in the most humiliating defeat suffered by the United States since the 9/11 attacks that took the nation to war; yet, the president approved the transfer of dozens more Gitmo terrorists. Just as, only a few months ago, he approved the transfer of five top Taliban commanders even as the Taliban was (and is) continuing to conduct terrorist operations against American troops in Afghanistan.
Shocking, yes, but how surprising from Barack Obama? Mind you, this is the president who, though AWOL (and still unaccountable) while terrorists were killing and wounding American personnel in Benghazi, had the temerity not just to fly off to a Vegas fundraiser the very next day but to pick that setting, and that moment, to declare victory: “A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises above the New York skyline, but al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead.”
Yes, bin Laden is dead. But the terrorist hordes chanted, “Obama, we’re all Osama!” as they torched our embassies and raised the black flag of jihad — the flag the Islamic State vows to fly over the White House. And just two days after Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” fundraiser, Ansar al-Sharia’s Tunis cell attacked the American embassy there. That al-Qaeda franchise is led by Seifallah ben Hassine, long-time jihadist confidant of bin Laden and his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Some path to defeat.
Of course, the Benghazi massacre would never have happened had Obama not switched sides in Libya, dumping the Qaddafi regime — theretofore an American counterterrorism ally — and partnering with Eastern Libyan jihadists. The president’s strategy ensured that enemies of the United States would acquire much of Qaddafi’s arsenal, empowering jihadist cells throughout North Africa and the Middle East, growing al-Qaeda and what would become the Islamic State. And as we have seen in just the last few weeks, Obama’s “lead the jihad from behind” strategy has resulted in the near complete disintegration of Libya, with Ansar al-Sharia and its allies now controlling much of Tripoli.
Nor is that all. Hours before the Benghazi attack began on September 11, 2012, there had been rioting at the American embassy in Cairo. It was stoked by al-Qaeda leaders — including Zawahiri’s brother, Mohammed. The latter had called for attacks against the United States to avenge the recent killing of the network’s leader in Libya. The al-Qaeda leaders had also been threatening to besiege the embassy to extort the release of the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, imprisoned in the U.S. on terrorism charges. These jihadists had been enabled in their incitements against America by the Muslim Brotherhood–controlled government — a government the Obama administration had pressured Egypt’s military leaders to make way for.
When the Left says it intends to make the challenge of international terrorism “manageable,” that is usually code for saying it wants to return counterterrorism to the law-enforcement paradigm, in which terrorism is a crime addressed by indictments. Crime — petty theft, graft, racketeering, and the like — is a constant that society manages. National-security threats, on the other hand, cannot be indicted into submission. And they are not “managed” by imagining that if we ignore them they will go away.
President Obama probably does believe the Islamic State could become a manageable problem. Unfortunately, he also believes that when his ideology collides with reality, it is reality that must give. Reality does not see it that way.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, was released by Encounter Books on June 3.
There may be a connection between the death of American journalist James Foley and a terrorist kidnapping ring operating in the United Kingdom that was involved in the disappearance of two other Western journalists. Foley’s execution has prompted intelligence officials and other experts to reexamine the role of groups associated with the Islamic State. Security forces generally do not have enough reliable information to make a connection. The U.K. government is also finding it difficult to deal with some of its own citizens waging jihad in Syria and working with the Islamic State. “We’ve been playing catch-up along with the worst foreign-fighter flows that we’ve seen in the modern terrorist era,” said former U.S. counterterrorism official Juan Zarate. “The British government has been sounding the alarm for a long time about the threat of foreign fighters and trying to do their best, but they have had trouble tracking that flow in an environment that is incredibly open.” –
Homeland Security News Wire (08/27/14)
A U.S. senator warned on Thursday that ISIS, the militant terror group sweeping across Iraq, aims to destroy an American population center and is working on a plan to do it.
‘They’re crazy out there and they’re rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city and people just can’t believe that’s happening,’ Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe told the Fox-25 television in Oklahoma City.
Inhofe, the ranking GOP member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned that leaders of ISIS ‘are really bad terrorists. They’re so bad even al-Qaeda is afraid of them.’
Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a fellow Oklahoma Republican and a committee member, told the Tulsa World that ISIS Islamists are ‘cutting children’s bodies in half. They’re shooting them. I’ve never seen anything like it.’
Good news regarding stiff sentences for the Kunsthal thieves. I wish that they could have received more time, however, based on their refusal to provide information about the current whereabouts of all of the works, since the idea that they were burned is actually still up in the air (according to some press reports and a source of mine in Romania). Furthermore, the fine for the man who attempted to fence the art is astonishingly low, making his misdeed almost a smart bet for someone who was asked to move millions in stolen art.
The main suspect in the Rotterdam Kunsthal art robbery has been jailed for six years eight months, by a court in Bucharest on Monday.
The sentence for Romanian national Adrian P, who has not admitted his role in the robbery, is in line with that handed down to the other two main defendants last year. The sentences are now definitive and there is no right of appeal, news agency ANP said.
The defendants have also been ordered to pay €18.1m in compensation for the theft, which is said to be the value of the stolen works.
The mother of one of the suspects, who says she burnt several of the paintings in the stove at her home, was jailed for two years. She later retracted that statement.
A sixth suspect, who tried to fence the stolen work, was fined the equivalent of €10,000.
The seven paintings, which include works by Monet, Picasso and Gauguin were stolen in October 2012. Their whereabouts is still unknown.
By Amber Corrin, Federal Times
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to struggle with prioritizing its strategies, despite having created systems for integrating analytic and intelligence activities, said a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). DHS’ existing intelligence framework is not effective, said the report, and fails to create “strategic departmental intelligence priorities” that would guide annual planning decisions. This has resulted in managers in DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) having difficulties developing strategic and tactical priorities for specific operations, the report found. The GAO report did say that the efforts to integrate analysis within DHS offices has helped to a degree, as they have allowed intelligence officials to coordinate component activities and prevent any duplication of implementation efforts or unnecessary overlap. I&A continues to have difficulties recruiting and hiring analysts, however, and has not made progress in using existing mechanisms to improve its workforce difficulties. The report noted that the mechanisms will help I&A evaluate whether its efforts are succeeding at achieving goals such as improving recruiting and hiring, improving morale, and reducing turnover. DHS agreed with the recommendations the GAO made for addressing these issues.
A good friend from the Providence Police Department shared her thoughts with me recently about a certain major art theft I’m investigating. Her theory: the paintings I seek are hidden in a safe deposit box. She went on to explain the basis for her theory, which I’ll not share here. In any event, her theory came immediately to mind when I saw this story about a lost van Gogh:
MADRID, May 10 (Reuters) – Spanish tax inspectors checking the contents of a safe deposit box discovered a painting believed to be by Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh that went missing almost 40 years ago, a tax office source said on Saturday.
Confirming a report by Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the source said the painting was entitled “Cypress, Sky and Country” in English translation from Spanish and dated 1889. The pastoral work had last been on view in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in the Austrian capital Vienna, the source told Reuters.
He said an investigation was under way into how the painting wound up in the safety deposit box and whether it disappeared as a result of a robbery.
Art experts told the tax office that the painting, bearing three seals of authenticity and measuring 35 by 32 centimeters 13.7 by 12.5 inches), is most likely genuine although this must still be confirmed by Spain’s Culture Ministry. The value of the painting has not yet been assessed.
Van Gogh, a giant of the impressionist school whose works are among the most valuable in the world, committed suicide penniless in 1890 after a long battle with mental illness.
The painting was found during an operation to seize the contents of some 542 safety boxes from tax offenders who owed around 319 million euros ($438.83 million), El Mundo said.
The Madrid daily ran a photo of the painting. ($1 = 0.7269 Euros) (Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
Fears for the fate of more than 200 Nigerian girls turned even more nightmarish Monday when the leader of the Islamist group that kidnapped them announced plans to sell them.
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.
“There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continued, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language.
Boko Haram means “Western education is sin.” In his nearly hourlong, rambling video, Shekau repeatedly called for Western education to end.
“Girls, you should go and get married,” he said.
The outrageous threat means the girls’ parents worst fears could be realized. Parents have been avoiding speaking to the media for fear their daughters may be singled out for reprisals.
“Wherever these girls are, we’ll get them out,” Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed Sunday.
Come the 10th of June 2007, it will be seven years since the public last set eyes on the painting A Cavalier (self portrait). Its place on the wall in a small enclave of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which forms part of the James Fairfax Galleries, has long since been claimed by another artwork, Mars and the Vestal Virgin (1638) by Jacques Blanchard. Sadly, with the investigation into the theft of A Cavalier at a standstill and with little attention given to its continued disappearance, those unfamiliar with the case will be unaware that A Cavalier once held pride of place in that collection. It is as if it never existed – and all because somebody (or bodies), decided to pinch, nick, steal, nab, rob, pilfer, purloin, take, snitch the painting…and now in 2014 we will have The Seven Year Snitch. Sound familiar? The name is borrowed from the 1955 film directed by Billy Wilder, The Seven Year Itch. You know the one, even if you haven’t seen it. Just picture Marilyn Monroe in a white pleated halter-neck dress standing on a subway grate to get the breeze, her pleats take flight and an iconic image is born! While the title of that movie refers to the suggestion that after seven years of marriage spouses may want to stray from home (and their marriage), in the case of A Cavalier, we’d much prefer that it hadn’t strayed at all but was still home, safe and sound, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Actually, the original meaning of the phrase is more relevant here where the “seven-year itch wasn’t a condition that supposedly began after seven years, but one that supposedly lasted for seven years” (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/seven-year-itch.html). Indeed, one could say that after seven years, we are itching to get A Cavalier back!