Obama Soft On Terror?

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Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Big Bear Village

If you believe everything you read in this group, you might think so. I have read many posts on here decrying the President for being soft on terror and canonizing George Bush as some sort of saint who protected us from harm. I happen to believe that Bush went around with a sledgehammer stirring up hornets nests. Obama, in my opinion, is doing a much better job of fighting Al-Queda. Instead of killing people and invading countries that had nothing to do with 9/11, he is actually killing members of The Taliban and Al-Queda. During Bushs' term we knew where the terrorists reall were. Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, and most of all Saudi Arabia. Instead of concentrating all of our resources on killing the terrorists, we went into Iraq to settle old scores. This article I am about to print, shows a little bit about we can be successful in the War on Terror without being Imperialistic d#$%s.

Evolving U.S. strategy widens assault on terrorists

By MATT APUZZO

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON -

In the early months of his presidency, President Barack Obama's national security team singled out one man from its list of most-wanted terrorists, Baitullah Mehsud, the ruthless leader of the Pakistani Taliban. He was to be eliminated.

Mehsud was Pakistan's public enemy No. 1 and its most feared militant, responsible for a string of bombings and assassination attempts. But while Mehsud carried out strikes against U.S. forces overseas and had a $5 million bounty on his head, he had never been the top priority for U.S. airstrikes, something that at times rankled Pakistan.

"The decision was made to find him, to get him and to kill him," a senior U.S. intelligence official said, recalling weeks and months of "very tedious, painstaking focus" before an unmanned CIA aircraft killed Mehsud in August at his father-in-law's house near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

It was not the first airstrike on Obama's watch, but it marked the first major victory in his war on terrorism, a campaign the administration believes can be waged even more aggressively than its predecessor's. Long before he went on the defensive in Washington for his handling of the failed Christmas Day airline bombing, Obama had widened the list of U.S. targets abroad and stepped up the pace of airstrikes.

Advances in spy plane technology have made that easier, as has an ever-improving spy network that helped locate Mehsud and other terrorists. These would have been available to any new president. But Obama's counterterrorism campaign also relies on two sharp reversals from his predecessor, both of which were political gambles at home.

Obama's national security team believed that the president's campaign promise to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq would have a side benefit: freeing up manpower and resources to hunt terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Intelligence officials, lawmakers and analysts say that approach is showing signs of success.

Obama also has sought to reach out to Islamic allies and tone down U.S. rhetoric, a language shift that critics have argued revealed a weakness, in an effort to win more cooperation from countries like Yemen and Pakistan.

For example, though Pakistan officially objects to U.S. airstrikes within its border, following the Mehsud strike, the U.S. has seen an increase in information sharing from Pakistani officials, which has helped lead to other strikes, according to the senior law enforcement official. He and other current and former officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters.

Pakistan's cooperation is key to U.S. counterterrorism efforts because much of the best intelligence still comes from Pakistan's intelligence agency. Ensuring that cooperation has been a struggle for years, in part because Pakistan wants greater control over the drone strikes and its own fleet of aircraft, two things the U.S. has not allowed.

"The efforts overseas are bearing fruit," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a strident critic of Obama's domestic counterterrorism policies who said Obama has at times shown himself even more aggressive than Bush in his use of force overseas. "I give them generally high marks for their efforts to capture and kill terrorists in Pakistan, and they're pushing the envelope in Yemen."

CIA drones, the remote-controlled spy planes that can hunt terrorists from miles overhead, are responsible for many of the deaths. Drone strikes began increasing in the final months of the Bush administration, thanks in part to expanded use of the Reaper, a newer generation aircraft with better targeting systems and greater, more accurate firepower.

Obama has increased their use even further. A month after Mehsud's death, drone strikes in Pakistan killed Najmiddin Jalolov, whose Islamic Jihad Union claimed responsibility for bombings in 2004 at U.S. and Israeli embassies in Uzbekistan. Senior al-Qaida operatives Saleh al-Somali and Abdallah Sa'id were killed in airstrikes in December. And Mehsud's successor at the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, died following an attack last month.

Intelligence officials and analysts say the drawdown of troops in an increasingly stable Iraq is part of the reason for the increase in drone strikes. The military once relied on drones for around-the-clock surveillance to flush out insurgents, support troops in battle and help avoid roadside bombs.

With fewer of those missions required, the U.S. has moved many of those planes to Afghanistan, roughly doubling the size of the military and CIA fleet that can patrol the lawless border with Pakistan, officials said.

"These tools were not Obama creations, but he's increased their use and he has shifted the U.S. attention full front to Afghanistan," said Thomas Sanderson, a defense analyst and national security fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Obama administration has also benefited from stepped-up cooperation with officials in Osama bin Laden's ancestral homeland of Yemen. Authorities there killed 30 suspected militants in airstrikes in December closely coordinated with U.S. intelligence agencies.

Yemen has had a sometimes rocky relationship with the U.S. and was perceived to have an on-again-off-again approach to fighting terrorism, but officials in Washington are cautiously optimistic about a newly strengthened relationship.

Abdullah al-Saidi, Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations, said his country has always been committed to fighting terrorism. But in a fragmented country beset by a growing al-Qaida presence, a rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south, it wasn't always easy for the government to openly align with the United States.

Washington is trying to make it easier with the promise of more money. But perhaps more important, al-Saidi said, were overtures such as Obama's June 2009 speech in Cairo, where he sought a "new beginning" with the Muslim world.

Obama has also abandoned terms like "radical Islam" and "Islamo-fascism," rhetoric that was seen as anti-Muslim by many in the Arab world and which al-Saidi said made it harder for governments to openly cooperate with Washington.

"Just the notion of not equating Islam with terrorism, there is a lot of good will toward him," al-Saidi said. "For the public, it's easier to say, 'Well, it's no longer a hostile power as it used to be.'"

Such international successes have largely been drowned out by the controversy that followed the failed bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas. When the FBI read suspected bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab his rights and charged him in federal court, Republicans accused Obama of not understanding the country is at war.

"They're trying to be tougher than Bush overseas but different from Bush at home," Graham said. "It doesn't make a lot of sense. They really got the right model for Pakistan and Yemen, but they're really tone deaf at home."

After Obama missed his own deadline to close the prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and backtracked on a plan to prosecute 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a New York courthouse, Republicans saw the Detroit case as an opportunity to renew questions about Obama's national security credentials, Republican strategist Kevin Madden said.

Madden said that Obama's stepped-up strategy overseas doesn't resonate with voters, and Republicans gain little in an election year by acknowledging where they agree with the White House strategy.

"National security politics is driven by events more than it's driven by long-term trends," he said.

Or, as Graham put it: "What resonates with people is what happens in Detroit, more than what happens on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border."

The White House says it see no conflict between broadening the attacks overseas and sticking with the U.S. judicial system at home, where hundreds of people have been convicted on terrorism charges since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"The president believes that we need to use all elements of American power to defeat al-Qaida, including the strength of our military, intelligence, diplomacy and American justice," said Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser. "We only weaken ourselves when we fail to use our full arsenal."

 

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Rainmaker
825,669
Nicholas Goglucci
South Florida Real Estate & Development, Inc. - Pompano Beach, FL
The Listing Whisperer

You make one mistake - Mirandizing a known Al Quada terrorist after 50 minutes when he already stated more were on their way - yes, Obama is doing a great job!

February 12, 2010 06:44 PM #1
Rainmaker
825,669
Nicholas Goglucci
South Florida Real Estate & Development, Inc. - Pompano Beach, FL
The Listing Whisperer

I feel so much safer now that I know Obama is on the job - oh- and his top terrorist chief is so experienced and knowledgeable on how to interrogate terrorists - thanks Israel

February 12, 2010 06:46 PM #2
Ambassador
883,319
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

And yet, when he gets a terrorist dropped in his lap, he doesn't know how to handle it.  He repeatedly got it wrong about the Panty-Bomber... thought he was acting alone, even after everyone else knew his connections.  Failed to have him interrogated before lawyering up... 

Now, with Iran, he is talking them into the ground... but not stopping anything.  With Bush, those wishing to do ill to the US had to worry about being invaded... with Obama all they have to worry about is him talking them to death.

February 12, 2010 09:36 PM #3
Ambassador
1,929,686
Steve Hoffacker
Hoffacker Associates LLC - West Palm Beach, FL
New Home Sales Trainer/Coach, Sales Books Author

Israel,

Do you remember the deck of 52 that Bush published. I believe that Osama is the only one surviving from that deck. :)

Steve

February 12, 2010 09:46 PM #4
Rainmaker
86,992
Israel Barden
RE/MAX Big Bear Village - Big Bear Lake, CA

Just about what I expected. I knew the fact that you could take out terrorists without blowing up whole countries would be lost on most people. You are too busy pointing fingers to give credit where credit is due. I will be the first to acknowledge the flaws in many of The Presidents policies. However, I also will give him props when he is doing something right.

The whole miranda thing cracks me up. Why don't you turn the clock back to the shoe bomber. I am fairly certain he was read his miranda rights. Just as fast or faster than this last guy. This happened under Bush. If you are going to call Obama out, then have the guts to call Bush out.

February 13, 2010 10:44 AM #5
Rainmaker
563,876
Mike Saunders
Lanier Partners - Athens, GA

And while he is granting miranda rights to terrorists, enemy combatants, etc., his justice department is trying backdoor ways to discredit those lawyers and CIA operatives who were operating under the existing guidelines.

While he is granting miranda rights to terrorists, enemy combatants, etc., his justice department is arguing that we have no inherent right to privacy with our cell phones and other portable communications devices.

While he is granting miranda rights to terrorists, enemy combatants, etc., he is continuing the same practices of domestic eavesdropping that he condemned the Bush administration for.

Using drones to attack al-Queda and the Taliban in the mountains of Pakistan is not the same as being tough on terrorists domestically. Half a world away, it is impersonal, arms length. Here, he is closer to getting his hands into it.

He is playing politics with terrorism, some of it tough, some of it weak.

As for the shoe bomber, we did not have in place any policy for handling/managing this. The administration was learning on the fly. We did not get the useful information out of him that we might have gotten handling it a bit differently.

The problem with his approach is that it is reactionary and after the fact. There is no preventative piece to it.

Last August Obama promised an H.I.G. or High-value Interrogation Group that is to handle and respond to incidents like the Christmas Day bomber. They weren't called in, but maybe that's because there was nobody to call. It wasn't operational. There was nothing in place. In fact, the charter for it was just signed last week. Almost 6 months afterwards. And 6 weeks after the first person of value was apprehended.

February 13, 2010 03:28 PM #6
Rainmaker
86,992
Israel Barden
RE/MAX Big Bear Village - Big Bear Lake, CA

Mike- I can't help but be alittle amused. I have been raising a stink for years about the loss of our right to privacy. When Bush was tapping our phones and reading our emails it was okay because he was the great savior. I warned folks back then that these powers he seized were not going to go away with his administration. I knew that once that door was opened, it was going to be very difficult to close it. Obama is going to build on the foundations Bush built and our rights are going to be done away with or altered bit by bit.

As for terrorism, he is following along the same path Bush did, except for the destruction of countries that had nothing to do with 9/11. At least once a week I see something about an Al-Queda or Taliban leader getting what is coming to them. I will always support killing terrorists. Just not the innocent civilians that occupy the same spaces as they do.

February 16, 2010 02:54 PM #7
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Rainmaker
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Israel Barden

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