Saturday, July 07, 2007

Rumsfeld called off '05 operation against Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan

You know how Republicans routintely criticize President Clinton's handling of terrorism pre-9/11, namely that he supposedly let slip several chances to capture or kill senior Al Qaeda leaders because the missions were deemed to risky and didn't have adequate intelligence to back them up? Well, the New York Times reports that the same thing happened under the Bush administration, just two years ago:

A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.

The target was a meeting of Al Qaeda’s leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.

But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected the 11th-hour appeal of Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.

Mr. Rumsfeld decided that the operation, which had ballooned from a small number of military personnel and C.I.A. operatives to several hundred, was cumbersome and put too many American lives at risk, the current and former officials said. He was also concerned that it could cause a rift with Pakistan, an often reluctant ally that has barred the American military from operating in its tribal areas, the officials said.

The decision to halt the planned “snatch and grab” operation frustrated some top intelligence officials and members of the military’s secret Special Operations units, who say the United States missed a significant opportunity to try to capture senior members of Al Qaeda.

Their frustration has only grown over the past two years, they said, as Al Qaeda has improved its abilities to plan global attacks and build new training compounds in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which have become virtual havens for the terrorist network.

The article continues on to say U.S. special forces were very frustrated by the termination. Right or wrong, I don't think the right can criticize President Clinton for being hesitant anymore if they won't for the Bush administration.


bhumika said...

well the republican plan for pakistan is that..there is NO plan. they are going to wait and see what Musharaff does..if he fails they will find another like him..

this merry go around is just feeding terrorism in Pakistan and the reason..all but no planned action means a big disaster for what they call "war on terror"

asia news desk,the newsroom

Xanthippas said...

I'm not surprised that Rumsfeld called it off, if it was getting out of hand (hundreds of personnel?) But this demonstrates that in the "real" world (as opposed to what Nat-Wu refers to as "unicorn land") sometimes we actually DON'T carry out half-ass attacks that are likely to backfire, because serious and intelligent people actually think about those things. This would be in contrast to Republicans who believe firmly that tough talk should proceed reckless action.