Monday, November 10, 2008

Bush Administration Secret Orders Revealed: No Hiding Place for Al Qaeda

It's been open season on Al Qaeda for units of the American military, since 2004. Setting up bases in countries that are "not at war with the United States" (NYT) didn't put them off-limits. Stepping across a national border, killing people, then stepping back and going 'neener, neener' didn't work.

It must have been frustrating for Al Qaeda leaders.

I can't say that I'm disappointed to learn that then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed an order that gave the American military "broad, secret authority" to go after Al Qaeda. And, that the 'demonic' George Bush approved.

Secret Orders, Broad Authority: Is This Some Kind of Plot?

Well, yes. It is. It looks like the Bush administration has, since around September of 2001, been out to get Al Qaeda.

Just because of some incident involving four airliners, two skyscrapers, the Pentagon, a field in Pennsylvania and several thousand people: many of whom left pieces big enough to be identified.

Secret Orders! The Horror! The Horror!

I'm all for dialog and transparency, but let's be realistic: Al Qaeda wants to destroy western culture, and seems particularly focused on American culture and institutions.

Quite a few Americans would just as soon keep things more or less the way they are.1 And, more to the point, would just as soon not be killed by religious fanatics.

Al Qaeda leaders can hardly overthrow America if their organization is knocked to pieces. And, I'm pretty sure that Al Qaeda's leaders would just as soon stay alive. They're remarkably generous about letting their underlings become holy martyrs, but not so eager themselves.

Under those circumstances, it simply does not make sense to go through the usual diplomatic channels, engage in dialog, and be transparent. Let's say that, before going after a base in Syria that Al Qaeda is using to kill Iraqis, American officials engage in dialog with:
  • Syrian officials
  • The United Nations Security Council
  • Leaders of
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Jordan
    • Lebanon
    • Turkey
    • Iran
    • Kuwait
    • The United Arab Emirates
    • Oman
    • Yemen
    • Eritrea
    • Sudan
    • And, just to be thorough, Brunei
I could be wrong, but I think that by the time a consensus was reached, Al Qaida would have moved the base somewhere else. And the whole transparent dialog could start over.

That Was the Bush Administration: Now What?

Whether or not the Obama administration continues this 'no hiding place' Al Qaeda policy will, I think, tell us a lot about what to expect in the next four to eight years.

I hope that Barack Obama will risk offending President Ahmadinejad, Code Pink, and Bare Witness: and be practical about the War on Terror.

Related post: In the news:
1 I'm no great fan of the America of Madison Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard myself, but knocking down buildings with people inside is not a sensible response.

A Catholic Citizen in America (Following Catholic beliefs and practices in America: One man's experience) discusses my counter-cultural lifestyle in today's America, and how I respond to the culture around me.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.