The new bin Laden documents make clear that there was intelligence politicization during the 2012 campaign.
Jenna Lifhits reports: A top foreign correspondent at the New York Times said Friday that the Obama administration deliberately downplayed al Qaeda’s strength in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.
“The overall narrative that I think was being pushed to the press, and if you look back at the editorials that were done when that trove came out, was an image of bin Laden isolated, he had lost control of this group,” Rukmini Callimachi said during an event at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, referring to the 17 hand-picked documents released by the Obama administration in May of 2012.
“The narrative I would get is that . . . it had opportunistically taken the al Qaeda name in order to have prestige and scare people, and that in fact those people were just criminals.”
— Rukmini Callimachi
Her remarks triggered the following question from Kim Dozier, a former top correspondent for the Associated Press and CBS, and current executive editor of the Cipher Brief: “Do you think that was something that was kept from the public’s view because it revealed that there had to be reams of communication going back and forth, which means U.S. intelligence, Western intelligence, was missing this?”
“Suddenly, my worldview, which had been informed by officials . . . started to fall apart. Suddenly, I was seeing that this group that I was told really had no ties, with no connection . . . was in fact being micromanaged by al Qaeda central.”
— Rukmini Callimachi
“Think back to when bin Laden was killed. It was 2011, it was right before a major campaign season. I don’t want to underplay the role that the killing of Osama bin Laden had,” said Callimachi. “But I think that that was theorized into something much bigger.”
“The head of the organization has been killed, and now—these are literally quotes that I would get: the organization has been ‘decimated,’ the organization is in ‘disarray,’ the organization is ‘on the run,’” she continued. “At the same time that we were preparing to pull out troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, I think that it was important to portray this as a problem that no longer existed.”
* * *The Trump administration released roughly 470,000 files in November that were captured in the Abbottabad raid. Only a few hundred were released under the Obama administration, despite one official’s description of the haul as enough to fill a “small college library.”
When Callimachi was covering West Africa in 2011, Obama administration officials and others told her that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which had just taken over the northern half of Mali, “was actually not really connected to al Qaeda.” Read the rest of this entry »
The claims in the Daily Beast story are completely 100% unsubstantiated
Mollie Hemingway writes: This week, a group of Republican senators led by Tom Cotton of Arkansas (pictured above, with a kitten, in Iraq) issued a very brief open letter to the leaders of Iran explaining the differences between mere executive agreements and international treaties ratified by the Senate. It’s a fairly basic letter that includes reminders about the Constitutional system under which we operate. I couldn’t begin to speculate why, but the media lost their collective minds over this letter. Along with other Democrats and progressive activists. You can read the breathless, outraged, totally-over-the-top headlines if you’d like to see this melt-down in action.
Now, that’s fine. That’s their business. To be completely honest, and not that you care, I’m not the biggest fan of such letters myself. I mean, they’re not as bad as Nancy Pelosi going to Syria to undermine Bush’s foreign policy, Jimmy Carter helping North Korea get nuclear weapons, Ted Kennedy secretly asking the Soviets to interfere in the 1984 election or any of the many other interjections we’ve seen, but I think it’s generally a good idea to yield to the president on foreign negotiations, even if it’s a really bad president who couldn’t negotiate his way out of a paper bag if the stakes involved, oh I don’t know, going ahead with Iran as a nuclear power.
“What he sure as MOTHERFREAKING FREAK doesn’t say is that he’s a senator, that he thought it was a dumb idea to sign the letter, that he signed it and then realized it was a bad call or that he represents the ‘some’ in the headline.”
But let’s look a little deeper at just one part of this media campaign against Republican senators. It comes from Tim Mak of the Daily Beast and it looks like he’s got an explosive story:
Whoa. Check that out. Republicans now “admit” that the letter was “a dumb idea”! That’s huge. And “some Republicans who signed on” are now “realizing” it was a bad call? I can’t wait to read this story — taglined “HINDSIGHT” for extra flair — can you?
“Other than this low-level staff aide who didn’t even say he thought the letter was a bad idea, much less a dumb one, we have two Republican Senators who always opposed the letter and then also a Democratic Senator who didn’t like the letter…”
What are their names? Which of the senators are changing their minds and “admitting” and “realizing” that the media were right after all? Who are they?
Oh dear. That’s … weird. Very weird.
“So, in other words, we have a story that in no way supports the headline. Not even close…”
Hunh. Tim Mak’s story doesn’t even claim a single senator changed his mind. Not even close. Yikes.
Um. So it turns out that the only people quoted in the story against the letter are people who always opposed the letter. There’s also a quote from an unnamed, completely anonymous “Senate Republican aide” who doesn’t in any way say anything even remotely close to the claims made in the headline or anywhere else in the piece. Read the rest of this entry »