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Belmont Club

The Counsel of Fear

August 8th, 2013 - 5:34 pm

Rachel George asks: “Is the Yemen Terror Threat Routine, Or Something Else Entirely?” The Christian Science Monitor’s Howard LaFranchi asks substantially the same question:

Yemen appeared to back away from claims it had foiled a grandiose plot, and some terror experts wondered if the U.S., which launched three more drone strikes, had been duped by Al Qaeda into closing its embassies.

And closed they were, in emphatic fashion, as ABC News emphasized in its breathless video report of C-17 airplanes evacuating everyone from Yemen — including the ambassador, who was described as “not returning any time soon.” The extent and urgency of the evacuations have not wholly been allayed by claims from Yemen that they’ve nipped the threat. After all, what is the threat?

Even the New York Times has grown uneasy at the “optics”, saying the bug-out has upset some of America’s foreign partners, generated a sense of panic, and hands al-Qaeda a psychological victory. Al-Qaeda would seem to agree. The NYT writes that the Legion of Doom can hardly contain its glee:

The gloating among jihadists and their sympathizers began last week, right after the United States shut down almost two dozen diplomatic posts across the Middle East in response to a terrorist threat. “God is great! America is in a condition of terror and fear from Al Qaeda,” wrote one jihadist in an online forum. Another one rejoiced: “The mobilization and security precautions are costing them billions of dollars. We hope to hear more of such psychological warfare, even if there are no actual jihadi operations on the ground.”

But as George and LaFranchi point out, the vagueness of the threat makes it hard to judge whether the administration’s response is proportional or not. There are tantalizing hints that the threat extends beyond Yemen. CNN reports:

All in-bound cargo on commercial flights from Europe, the Middle East and Africa — and quite possibly other areas of the world — is being screened twice, as a result of the recent terror threats that have closed U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa, according to a cargo industry official.

The Department of Homeland Security late last week ordered airlines to increase the inspection of cargo at the last point of departure for the United States, said Brandon Fried, the executive director of Airforwarders Association, a trade group.

“They said, ‘until further notice, this is what you’re going to do,’” Fried said.

“Nothing unscreened gets on the plane,” Fried said. “Basically they said, ‘If you used one method, or several methods (of inspecting cargo), you need to do it again.’ It’s redundant, dual screening.”

Is it all security theater? Or are these precautions only barely adequate against a threat whose true dimensions have so far not been disclosed to the public? CNN described the rising drumbeat:

First came the closing of U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East and North Africa this week, along with a worldwide travel alert warning of a possible al Qaeda attack in the region.

In addition, Americans were told to leave Yemen, the epicenter of al Qaeda militancy in the Middle East, and the State Department pulled out non-emergency embassy personnel on military aircraft that flew them to Germany.

U.S. forces in the region were put on two-hour alert for mission readiness, and now there have been seven suspected U.S. drone strikes in Yemen, where the local al Qaeda leader is now believed to be the terror group’s global second-in-command.

The seriousness of the U.S. response indicated that al Qaeda was not as decimated and on-the-run as President Barack Obama’s administration has claimed for some time, including in last year’s presidential campaign.

The contrast between the dramatic warnings and the unseen peril may only be a political charade. But indirectly indicative of the changed attitude in Washington is news from the Washington Free Beacon that the administration has, for the first time, indicated it might countenance a strike on Iranian WMDs. If confirmed, this indicates that the administration is very worried about something:

The red light Washington has been showing Jerusalem regarding an Israeli air strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities has changed color recently, according to the previous head of Israeli military intelligence.

“The American stance on an Israeli strike has changed dramatically recently,” retired Gen. Amos Yadlin said in an interview on Israel Army Radio on Wednesday. “The music I’ve been hearing lately from Washington says ‘If this is truly an overriding Israeli security interest, and you think you want to strike,” then the light hasn’t changed to green, I think, but it’s definitely yellow.”

What could Iran have to do with it? Don’t we fear al-Qaeda? The linkage between Iranian WMDs and al-Qaeda (who occupy the opposing sectarian camp) is this: the closer the Iranians are to obtaining a working nuclear weapon, the greater the chance that the Sunni factions will follow suit. Leaking news that the Israelis have the sort-of green light to take out Iran’s WMDs reduces the political urgency for Sunni WMDs.

It has long been mooted, as a Yale University article shows, that Iran might buy an off-the-shelf nuke from Pakistan, North Korea, or even China as a “bridging” arsenal to tide them over the finish line should they get close enough. And clearly, if Iran can buy from Pakistan, why not al-Qaeda, whose “core” is supposedly in Pakistan itself and which may in fact be supported by Islamabad?

What was said in that “conference call” that spooked the administration so badly?

Testifying in early 2012, James Clapper told Congress:

While a “mass attack” was unlikely, groups like Yemen’s al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula have expressed interest in acquiring the capability to carry out a limited attack using such weapons.

Recently, the BBC reported:

Al-Qaeda could gain access to Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons with ‘catastrophic’ consequences, a parliamentary committee has warned.

After hearing evidence from senior members of the intelligence agencies and the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), the committee highlighted “serious concern” among its witnesses that Syria’s weapons stockpiles might be compromised.

Assessments of their contents “vary considerably”, the report said, but suggest they include sarin, ricin, mustard gas and VX, which the committee described as “the deadliest nerve agent ever created”.

“There has to be a significant risk that some of the country’s chemical weapons stockpile could fall into the hands of those with links to terrorism, in Syria or elsewhere in the region,” the committee concluded.

“If this happens, the consequences could be catastrophic.”

Thus, while the underlying source of the security alert remains unclear, open source data suggests the threat of a chemical or similar attack on a Western target cannot be wholly discounted. Of course this is pure speculation, although it is consistent with the known facts.

The larger point is that the administration’s counter-terrorism strategy, if such a word can be used to describe their actions so far, is not working.

It has failed to buy off the enemy and it has apparently failed to exterminate al-Qaeda to the desired degree. Now the West is facing some counteroffensive of large, but unknown, character. The terrible “ifs” accumulate, and failure may now have produced the Perfect Storm.

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Top Rated Comments   
First, let me note David theLast's point:

" The poor Saudi Royal family must be terrified. The ones that don't get out are going to get their heads chopped. Remember that Osama bin-Ladin's father was actually from Yemen. The Arabs in Yemen are like the angry step-children that hate their rich cousins, the Saudis."

Whether this is a head fake, or real panic; we have just served notice to anyone in the Muslim world that does not already hate us, their only hope for survival lays in coming to an accommodation with our enemies. Add to that the detail noted that in the haste of departure we surely left behind intel that will hurt us .... and anyone who has cooperated with us, and anyone acting as our agent now has their wedding tackle exposed to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. This could well be the end of any American influence in the Muslim world. And that may well have been one of the end goals.

I say "one of the end goals" because we have had enough experience with the regime to be able to make some first order assumptions in judging their actions.

1) That whatever they say, even under oath, will be a lie.
2) No matter what they do, it will NOT be for the benefit of the American people or the United States. They have a perfect record on that score.
3) They are more concerned with the aggregation of absolute power into their own hands than with any foreign involvement [except as a means to that end].

As to the supposed flashing yellow light to Israel for a de-nuking strike on Iran; if any country has learned of the innate treachery of Obama and his minions, it is Israel. Israel will move, or not move, according to its own judgment of the situation. I suspect that the forces allocated will be far from the bare minimum to damage the Iranian nuclear program. In fact, such a strike means open war with the entire Ummah. They cannot win a conventional war, especially with US opposition. They do have the non-conventional arsenal and means of delivery to END the Ummah.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, great. Here I sit in Manhattan, just blocks from the Stock Exchange.

I remember reading in various histories that the "Threat Assessment" briefing that every president gets each morning -- but that the bastard Count Zero usually SKIPS -- is enough to scare the hell out of any rational man.

This is what I suspect:
1. We know Saddam Hussein had many nasty weapons; chemical, biological, explosive.
2. Because Bush 2 thought we had to get the permission slip from the effin' UN, we arsed around for six months with those brigands before launching our invasion of Iraq.
3. During that time, we have high-level witnesses (including high-ranking Iraqi military men) who say that SH was hustling massive quantities of weapons of mass destruction to SYRIA. There are accounts of big jets going out of IRaq fully loaded, and flying back empty.
4. We found only facilities, traces, bits and bobs of the WMD that EVERYONE, Russians, French, Brits, you name it, said SH had: so where did they go? mostly to Syria.
5. My question (one of many) to Count Zero is, WTH are you doing sending weapons to AQ in SYRIA, you treasonous SOB? And why are you suddenly alarmed about something: will this make your treason too obvious, if your moslem "brotherhood" buddies pop off too fast?

Count Zed's actions don't even make BAD sense, you know? Also, remember that Valerie Rasputin Jarrett was born in Iran and is a big fan of theirs: this is all snarled up.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Whatever happens, the current administration will use it as justification for doubling the effort and resources to spy on this administration's perceived REAL enemy, the American people.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (61)
All Comments   (61)
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Good outcomes can arrive if the guys actually doing the work are capable and the "leaders" are just figureheads. That is the essence of managing up.

For the sake of argument, let us assume SEAL Team 6 is currently taking direct action against AQ. They need to sneak in country. So adapting an Obama skill, they create a misdirection, a "head fake", by shipping embassy personnel out. They are potential hostages anyway, and if the embassy is empty, who would see a protest demonstration? With no TV coverage of the signs written in English, the protestors would quickly get bored. Meanwhile the SEALs arrive via the C-17s carrying the diplomats out.

Now that the SEALs have done much of their work, it is time to reverse the process in 19 countries and bring back the diplomats so you can then send the SEALs home in the now empty planes. Don't you love the benefits of multitasking?

It reminds me of Fukushima. The whole media focus was on evacuation before the threat of spreading nuclear fallout. Meanwhile, using our unique logistics capabilities, we were rushing much needed equipment to the TEPCO people despite the chaos caused by the earthquake and tsunami.

"One man with courage makes a majority" - Andrew Jackson

You can read about it starting on page 14 here
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You might think of it this way

Obama is America's Princess Di for the LIV crowd.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Or are these precautions only barely adequate against a threat whose true dimensions have so far not been disclosed to the public?"

So, my first and last thought is, "What kind of weapon has AQ gotten their hands on? Dear Lord."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A keypad.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The telephone. Barry spooks easily these days.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

Philippines U.S. to start talks on troop rotation

5th fleet Amphib forces hold change of command

We're still Number One.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Meanwhile. back at the ranch, Obama's other division of Keystone Kops have produced this insane commercial protesting the Keystone pipeline. Brought to you by Nextgen Climate Action, see here

I can't tell who has the most anti-capitalist, anti North American view of the world - Al Qaeda? or Nextgen Climate Action? Which outfit tells the most lies?

We seem to have jumped the cosmic tracks into a parallel Nonsense Universe. Do we laugh or should we cry? No - as per usual we just have to take it as it comes. I'm off to paint the front porch and talk to my tomatoes.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Your tomatoes probably make more sense.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Swami said "Was the offensive ours and not theirs?
3 more drone strikes, 12 more kills."

And there was that report that JSOC was sending in special forces. Could the same guys who shot the Somali pirates against Barry's wishes now be running the show in a case of "managing up"?

More a case of Seven Days in May, than Being There?

The typical jihadi couldn't organize a two car funeral. The Koran makes no mention of cars. How many of the 9/11 crew were Western educated?

The way to beat them would be to decimate their ranks by removing the 10% of their population that is Western educated. You'd end up with nothing but Arabic LIVs.

The only thing dumber than an American LIV would be an Arab LIV. An army moves on its stomach. The bulk of MENA is almost out of food. We have "...Amber waves of grain".

"Feed the hungry" and they will obey the hand that feeds them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Some will rather bite the hand that feeds them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
AQ in Iraq got very unpopular during "The Surge". If they lose their local support, they end up losing. They won't be able to blend in and hide. The peeps will go for "The Strongest Horse".

AQ in Iraq had a lot more military hardware left over from Saddam and support from the Sunnis than AQAP has now in Yemen.

What's the sense of being "THE WORLD'S ONLY SUPERPOWER", if you don't let them see you in your cape once in awhile? Superpower status demands an occasional public appearance. Use drones and special forces to squash the leadership of AQAP and the others will learn to keep their heads down.

Wasn't the problem with the aftermath of the killing of bin Laden that POTUS could not keep his big mouth shut? He can't tell what he does not know about. Keep him on the golf course while the grownups do the work that needs to be done. He can't blackmail them, they can blackmail him.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I wish, sort of. Just who in this administration qualifies as the grownups that would do the work that needs doing? Biden, Kerry, Jarrett, Hagel, Holder, Napolitano, Brennan, Powers? Who?

Then again if some grownups save Obama that will allow him to take credit and he will with MSM help. The mass of LIVs will learn nothing. Not a good outcome.

But are there any good outcomes?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As was correctly said before, Israel does not need us and they will treat the situation as a existential threat. This means they will bring enough gun to get the job done.

All of the Kabuki theatre is for Jarrett's puppet to maintain proper imaging for the useful idiots, so that they keep writing checks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wretchard: "But unless this is the mother of all headfakes, the Obama administration is scared sh**less of something."

Maybe. Maybe not. As others have noted, Soetero and his insular friends do not give a tinker's damn about anything outside their Beltway Bubble.

Things like cutting & running from the Arab world and now from Pakistan remind me more of the pattern of boot-licking "me too!" behavior most of us have seen in bureaucracies everywhere.

Everyoe has seen what I am talking about. E.g., word comes down that the organization is to become 'female friendly' -- and suddenly only human beings with breasts get promoted, experience & capability be damned. If the wimps in the State Department think that Big Bad Barry wants them to run, suddenly they are like a herd of wildebeasts panicking across the veldt. 'Me too! Me too! Look at how fast I can run, Lord O!'
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, they saw what happened in Benghazi. They know there's no fight in this wildebeast, so the instinct for self-preservation compells them to flee. Can you honestly blame them?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Or did it go the other way around?
Was the offensive ours and not theirs?
3 more drone strikes, 12 more kills.
Alternate scenario:
The US gears up for major drone campaign in Yemen.
Warnings are put out to embassies, not out of fear or AQ "plot" but to preempt AQ counter-strike.
Death rains down on Jihadis in Yemen. The imams consider standard response move- "Let's have a crowd attack their embassy!" but this time, the Americans are hip to that, and have gotten out in front of the curve.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Your post has much to commend it in terms of logic, IF (and this is a crucial conditional) you could list, oh, two or three examples of this administration's use of a clearly rational, effective, strategic operation against foreign enemies, rather than some spasm reacting to an external attack or threat.

Please do not include bullying of law-abiding domestic opponents, who have so far shown self-sacrificial adherence to civility and non-violence despite almost six continuous years of targeted harassment and vilification by their own corrupted government.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Islam is the "religion" where no one is responsible and no one is in charge. That is very consistent with O'Bama's style of governance.

The biggest question about O'Bama is whether the latest in a parade of fiascos is due to collective stupidity of the administration or outright deliberation. Who can forget his pathetic bow to the Saudi king? How have we ended up with a Sunni-oriented Middle East policy, a Sunni-benefitting domestic energy policy, and an immigration policy to obliterate the American identity?

The Left is increasingly facing the dilemma of whether to plead extreme stupidity and incompetence to avoid a charge of malice. For now, they appear to be just trying to hold it all together through the 2014 elections. How did that movie, "Being There," end?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And just how honest will the 2014 elections be? How many districts will have 105% - 120% of the registered electorate voting?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
On September 11, 2012 -- BEFORE the news about the Benghazi attacks got out -- Martin Gould posted this article:

White House Admits Obama SKIPS Most Intelligence Briefings

"President Barack Obama has missed more than half of his daily intelligence briefings since he came into power, a new report shows.

Obama has been to less than 44 percent of the vital meetings, the White House admits, with his attendance reaching a low spot towards the end of 2011 and the start of this year.

His predecessor, George W, Bush made a point of having the meetings six days a week, and attending as many as possible, the American Enterprise Institute fellow, Marc Thiessen reports in the Washington Post.

Obama’s attendance figures were prepared by the conservative Government Accountability Institute, and were not disputed by the White House. At one point he was attending fewer than two meetings out of five."

The WH tried to spin it that he got "written reports" that, Of Course! he read (on the golf course?) Doing homework? that doesn't sound like Count Zero to me: he never goes to the office before 10:30 am.

There are also reports that Jarrett called off the attack on Bin Liner THREE different times when our men had the rat in their sights, and that only when Leon Panetta basically pulled the trigger, then had his men get Zero off the yes, golf course to drag his worthless rear end into the Situation Room (notice his attire in that famous photo) were they able to Finally let the hammer fall.

Treason, treason, treason: abetted hugely by le trahison des clercs.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Didn't Panetta basically outsmart Jarrett on the bin Laden thing? Knowing she would object that plans and preparations would have to be made, he arranged for them without her knowing, so that when the time came, they were ready, and her predictable objections were entirely without merit.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
He was Photoshopped into that picture.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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