While I have not written anything in regards to national security lately, I still consider it one of the most important topics affecting our Nation today, if not the most important.
The recent failed suicide bombing attempt on Christmas day, the attack in Afghanistan that killed CIA agents, and other incidents in the last few weeks alone look as if they are testing the system in addition to directly making attacks.
These incidents as well as some others should be a wake up call to the Administration that we are not getting it right and that we need to change the way we are responding to the threat.
While many will point out the President has recently stated we are "at War" and his use of the phrase "Ultimately, the buck stops with me." It was not until 13 days after the Christmas day failed attack that these remarks were made. Giving plenty of time for the administration to see and hear how the public wanted them to respond and then using those terms.
In the last year we have seen the Administration acting as if it we are not at war, and Napolitanos blatant non-use of the words terrorism, and war, by replacing these, and specifically the Global War on Terror with "Overseas-Contingency-Operation", and "Man-Caused-Disasters" is only one part of the problem. But lets start with this.
These changes in terms, I and many others would argue that it "Plays Down" the urgency in which we need to respond to the threat. It also can embolden the enemy in that it says you are not taking the threat as seriously as in the past.
In addition to these changes in terms having an effect, you also have the CIA under pressure from the Administration not to use certain tactics. Further more you had politicians calling for investigations into the CIA practices, and a subsequent move of giving captured unlawful combatants or illegal enemy combatants the same rights as U.S. citizens and the right to a trial of "their peers" in the U.S. judicial system. This presents a whole host of issues. Many of which I will not be able to touch on here, but lets take a look at some of them.
First, the enemy with which we are engaged does not recognize, nor have they signed the Geneva Convention. They openly and thoughtfully engage in war against civilian targets. They continue to attempt to try and kill as many civilians as they possibly can. Bin Laden has commented that he wants to see at least 4 million Americans killed, of which 2 million MUST be children. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. They have already attacked a school in Beslan, Russia killing between 500-700 people 300 of which were children, and they would like to do this here in the United States.
Second, our troops may now have to decide if they have to read Miranda Rights to the enemy only causing more confusion to the fog of war during battle.
Third, if we are at war do we give our captured the rights afforded in the Geneva Convention or not? Even though they are illegal enemy combatants? Though they do not afford our troops, or citizens such rights? Remember Daniel Pearl who was murdered by none other than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed now on trial in New York City, and how about those four contractors in Iraq burned alive.
Four, if we do afford them rights under the Geneva Convention, inserting them into the civilian judicial system and prison system or release may actually violate the following convention terms (it is a stretch but intended to highlight aspects of the legal mess created). Part III - Captivity under section II, Chapter I Article 23
No prisoner of war may at any time be sent to or detained in areas where he may be exposed to the fire of the combat zone...
Some other articles such as Article 25 which affords the prisoners some safety which you could argue that they are not safe in the general prison system. Not that I care if something happens to them, but it could cause more problems for the United States.
These issues only begin to scratch the surface of the problem with legal issues. Then there is the time when the President clearly misspoke saying that when the terrorists are convicted and executed we will see that he made the right choice. That in and of itself creates a whole other avenue of legal issues. Basically having the President of the U.S. convicting them before the trial, and what about the issue of fair trials?
While I don't want them here being subject to our judicial system in the first place how can we maintain the sanctity of our system if we allow them to be tried in this manner?
This brings me to Janet Napolitano, the current head of DHS and former Governor of AZ, who has zero experience in counter-terrorism or security who also misspoke saying that "The system worked" just days after the failed attempt. What system would that be? Where we leave it up to the civilian population to tackle and subdue those who threaten us?
She of course a day later said "No secretary of homeland security would sit here and say that a system worked prior to this incident which allowed this individual to get on this plane."
As if this were not enough, but the fact that she is surprised that Al-Qaeda has the capability to use an "individual" to carry out a suicide-bombing attempt goes to show that neither she, nor the Administration gets or understands the threat that we face. Especially since all such attacks require individuals acting as such in order to carry them out.
Janet Napolitanos own words on video:
Then we have the head of the NCTC (National Counterterrorism Center) Michael E. Leiter who remained on his ski vacation after reports of the failed attack occurred.
The more interesting thing about this is that the day before the attack Michael E. Leiter in an interview with NPR said the following:
"We're not going to stop every attack. Americans have to very much understand that it is impossible to stop every terrorist event. But we have to do our best, and we have to adjust based on, again, how the enemy change their tactics."
This statement is true, but coupled with the way nearly the entire Administration has reacted and handled everything about the threat again, only emboldens the enemy. Clear direction and action must be taken and it must start with our leader and President.
Our President stayed on vacation, and gave a lax statement about the incident without wearing a tie as it was noted. In turn his subordinates within the DHS and NCTC took the same actions, and made weak statements.
Think about how the following statement while it says virtually the same thing, it also encourages our intelligence forces and those on the front lines to give it their best every step of the way.
"But every day terrorists plot and plan to try to attack us. They only have to be right once. We have to be right 100% of the time. But I know, too, that can only happen because men and women in uniform are fighting on the front lines."
That statement was made by Condoleezza Rice as she nevertheless warned about letting down our guard against another terrorist attack.
There is a very large difference in the way this Administration has handled the terror threat and the last Administration, and there is no doubt that the terrorists know it too.
I am sure it was not an accident that that this past week we also learned that the Obama Administration has ordered the CIA to use spy satellites to study and watch climate change instead of watching our enemies at the gate. I wonder how much more we will learn about laxes in security over the next few months.
In any case I have some solutions/suggestions that I am sure will not be followed but here they are:
First and foremost , if we are at war, and I most certainly think we are lets start acting like it. Ramp up the language, and mean it. Give full support to the CIA, Pentagon and other agencies and troops who are on the front lines fighting this war everyday. This includes support for first responders such as Police, Fire and EMS.
Second, reverse course on the decision to close Gitmo and send those who we formerly tried in a court of law to Gitmo as well.
Third, as long as we are at war, those prisoners will be held indefinitely see Part IV Under Section II Article 118 with the exception that instead of being released at the close of war we do the following.
Fourth, the illegal enemy combatants will be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity in an international court of law as at the end of WWII or we will maintain military tribunals as we were before.
Fifth, with people calling the Presidents recent statement on January 7th, 2010 "Presidential" giving him credit for taking resposnibilty for what happened, it takes more than words to fix the pervasive problems, that he now calls "systemic" and they became that way because he let them get that way by not taking it seriously.
Since this post is somewhat lengthly I have broken it into two parts. I have several more things to say and suggestions to make and will continue this in Part II to follow shortly. Some of this will be on how we can effectively protect ourselves and combat terrorism. Stay tuned.