January 19, 2004

SHOWSTOPPERS: This article from the Weekly Standard on why special forces weren't used against Al Qaeda before 9/11 seems pretty damning to me. Essentially, despite considerable pressure to do so (including pressure from high officials in the Clinton Administration), the military brass found ways to drag its feet and prevent things from happening.

The price was thousands of Americans dead, and a far more serious war on our hands. I keep asking, but why hasn't anyone been fired over this?

UPDATE: Austin Bay emails:

I agree with you completely. I just read the Weekly Standard article you linked to, ie, Showstoppers. This looks like a very, very important article. . . .

Here's a critical point: Pete Schoomaker is a straight shooter. I've known him for several years. Here's one caveat: I do know the military fears being "left hanging" by the civilians. Still, special ops has counter-terror as a mission. It is a tool we should have used, and this article indicates Clinton wanted to use it. We need to follow reaction to this story.

Indeed we do.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing comments:

When soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines come under fire and are killed and wounded, they have the right to expect that their services' leadership will demand retribution. All of these acts, particularly the attacks on Cole and the Khobar barracks, were by any definition acts of war and should have been treated as such. And the chiefs of staff should have seen it that way and pressed for it. Their fundamental obligation to protect their troops demanded it. In this they failed and failed morally, the worst failure a military officer can commit.

At the end of the day, though, the fault wends it way diffusely through many agencies and individuals until all the diffusion coalesces in the Oval Office. If Clinton believed the danger was as real as Schultz indicates he did, then he surely was obligated to do more than merely sign presidential findings. Firm orders to execute missions, not merely plan them, never came from his pen. They should have, even if he had to fire some people to make it happen.

Why wasn't anyone fired? Because the will to follow through was lacking in the only man who absolutely had to have it, the president of the United States.

Actually, both Clinton and Bush should have fired people. And neither one did.


YET ANOTHER UPDATE: In a not-really-related development, Ralph Peters is praising Clinton's performance as an ex-President:

I NEVER thought I'd give Bill Clinton a standing ovation. But last week in Qatar I did just that.

Our former president gave the most perfectly pitched, precisely targeted speech I've ever heard to a hall filled with Muslim intellectuals and officials. And they listened.

Go figure. Read the whole thing.