Belmont Club

The Age of Doubt

CBS News says a relative of one of the victims of Nidal Hassan’s rampage has ‘one question for the court’.  It will have to wait until Hasan — who is acting as his own attorney — can prove his point. He said “the evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter.”  It will be an uphill battle for him.  For the evidence will clearly show the Fort Hood event was “workplace violence”.

The facts aren’t what they used to be. Journalists, perhaps transported to the gallows humor mood by the sale of the Washington Post, are highlighting this circumstance in a number of astonishing headlines. One story describes the belated discovery by public sector retirees that their health care benefits aren’t what they thought they were.”(Reuters) – Chalk it up as an unintended consequence of Obamacare: a growing number of U.S. employers are aiming to cut their healthcare costs by shifting retirees into the law’s new public insurance exchanges, which launch this October.”

Let me get this straight: they don’t like Obamacare? Yes this is the age of puzzlement. The words “unintended consequences”, “unexpected”, “lower than anticipated”, “higher than anticipated”, “a surprise development”, “authorities are baffled”, “experts are puzzled” illustrate the misgivings people experience these days. People are angry at getting what they want other people to have.  You would think Obamacare is something you should get waiver from.

You’ve got to take your medicine. An elderly veteran was killed by cops after refusing medical treatment in Chicago. “95-year-old WWII vet John Wrana was killed by police after he resisted medical care in his nursing home last month. According to the Chicago Tribune, nursing home staff said Wrana was being “combative” as he resisted involuntary medical treatment. Apparently, he was so opposed to receiving the care that he was threatening to harm employees with his cane and shoehorn.”

Despite the news that al-Qaeda’s core is dead The Atlantic is unaccountably concerned about a man who can make anyone’s clothes into a bomb.  “The trained Saudi chemist behind the shoe and underwear bombs is working on an undetectable liquid explosive” so he can commit workplace violence.

U.S. authorities in recent weeks disclosed that Asiri has probably designed a sophisticated and powerful explosive device that can avoid detection by trained dogs and bomb detection machines at airport security checkpoints. And there are now concerns that AQAP–presumably at Asiri’s direction–is developing an ingenious new generation of liquid explosive that is also undetectable, and possibly being used in planned (and imminent) attacks. Operatives reportedly can dip ordinary clothing into a liquid explosive and turn the clothes themselves into bombs once dry.

That’s really nifty. From dry cleaning to fry cleaning. I’m impressed.

But Daveed Garstein Ross is unimpressed by the verbal diarrhea of the administration’s counterterrorist efforts. Referring to the play-by-play leaks to the newspapers which describe the al-Qaeda in Arabia’s stealthy advance on US consulates, Ross writes: “what’s with all the leaks?”

There is no reason to divulge that Al Qaeda’s communications have been penetrated. Gaining access to its inner discussions is no easy task: This organization is aware of America’s awesome surveillance capabilities and has for more than a dozen years adapted its communications to minimize the U.S. government’s chances of intercepting them. Al Qaeda is so secretive that there have been periods of years during which U.S. intelligence lacked the information it needed to have basic insights into the group’s inner workings.

But now officials, both unnamed and named, are busily telling the media exactly what messages from Al Qaeda give rise to concerns about the present plot. Based on newspaper accounts alone, neither Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor as Al Qaeda’s emir, nor Nasir al-Wuyashi (reportedly the new general manager) will have any doubt about which messages have been intercepted — and thus they will have no doubt about which channels of communication have been compromised. And they will adapt.

The timing of these disclosures is all wrong, tactically and strategically. Officials are explaining how we know what Al Qaeda is planning before the current plot has been disrupted, and before any members of the attack team (or teams) have been apprehended. Since it’s clear from the number of diplomatic posts that have been closed that U.S. intelligence doesn’t know where the attackers are, Al Qaeda has the option of telling the plotters to stand down, after which more secure means of communication can be established. And they can try again.

What’s it with all these leaks? Why divulge the fact their innermost communications have been penetrated?  Surely Ross can guess. Why to give the attackers a head’s up … so they can abandon their efforts, amend their wayward ways, retrace their steps  — or perhaps the leaks are to make the administration look good — that’s why.

But how you may ask, can the administration stand this spate of disastrous news? That is simple. It simply presents the dispatches as good news. For example, take this snippet.

Over the past couple of weeks almost 2,000 inmates, including “hundreds of terrorists,” have escaped from prisons in Iraq, Libya, and Pakistan. The series of ultra-violent, highly organized attacks has the US scared, al Qaeda celebrating in Iraq, and a whole load of embassy staff with a week off.

The party started with a bang. On the evening of July 21, suicide car bombs near Baghdad Central Prison (formerly known as Abu Ghraib) detonated, blasting open the gates. Military-grade mortar and rocket attacks followed and suicide-vested militiamen streamed into the prison. The assault was highly coordinated—while the apparent jihadists started freeing their brothers from Iraq’s nastiest correctional facility, others set up positions on the road outside, shooting police and security forces as they arrived on the scene.

At least 500 prisoners escaped, most of them “convicted senior members of al Qaeda” who’d been looking at death sentences, according to the Iraqi government. At least 25 cops and prison guards were killed, along with ten prisoners and six militants. At almost exactly the same time north of Baghdad, a botched escape using similar tactics killed 16 prison guards.

This only goes to prove that Osama bin Laden is dead!  You don’t read about him escaping do you? Or take this story from McClatchy about “rebels” seizing airbases. “BEIRUT — Syrian rebels spearheaded by al Qaida in Iraq and its local allies took control Tuesday of a crucial military airport in northern Syria, opening a vital supply line between the rebel-held north and Turkey.” Quite apart from the fact that all their terror aces, captured at such cost of blood and treasure, are now roaming about the countryside,  why would al-Qaeda be interested in opening a supply route from Turkey? Are they expecting guns from someone?

And who is that someone? “A relative of one of the victims of Nidal Hassan’s rampage has ‘one question for the court’.” Why just one question? Or more to the point, why ask questions?  Some in the Israeli government have stopped querying the administration because they can already guess the answers. The Jerusalem Post reports that a few no longer believe the Obama administration will stop Iran.

Senior Israeli official doubts US move to thwart nuclear Iran. “The diplomatic official doubted US intentions to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons at all costs. American conduct regarding Syria, contrary to declarations by President Barack Obama, shows Israel that it cannot rely on US assurances, the Israeli source said.”

And you can sympathize with with them. After all even Major Hassan can’t prove he murdered who he thought he murdered. A man can’t even plead guilty any more. The poor fellow is desperately trying to take credit for actually killing people in the Jihadi cause. Maybe Hassan should get together with Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who has the opposite problem. Nakoula claims he didn’t cause Benghazi by producing a video.  But the administration’s not going to let him get away with that. You will be surprised to know that Hassan’s and Nakoula’s recollections are untrue. But as noted at the start, this is the age of puzzlement. Expect the unexpected.

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