Gaming Intelligence: Stupid Is As Stupid Does
Opponents of Gen. McChrystal's requested increase in troop levels for Afghanistan are gaming intelligence to attack the new Afghanistan theater commander's recommendations and assessment. And the opponents in question are most likely within the White House. An article in the Washington Post, Success Against al-Qaeda Cited, tells you just about all you need to know. Astonishingly, in the fourth paragraph rather than the last, if at all.
U.S. and international intelligence officials say that improved recruitment of spies inside the al-Qaeda network, along with increased use of targeted airstrikes and enhanced assistance from cooperative governments, has significantly reduced the terrorist organization's effectiveness.
A U.S. counterterrorism official said that the combined advances have led to the deaths of more than a dozen senior figures in al-Qaeda and allied groups in Pakistan and elsewhere over the past year, most of them in 2009. Officials described Osama bin Laden and his main lieutenants as isolated and unable to coordinate high-profile attacks.
Recent claims of significant success against al-Qaeda have become part of White House deliberations about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, centering on a request by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and NATO commander there, for an expanded counterinsurgency campaign that will require more U.S. troops. Discussions began in earnest Tuesday as senior national security and military officials met with President Obama.Those within the administration who have suggested limiting large-scale U.S. ground combat in Afghanistan, including Vice President Biden, have pointed to an improved counterterrorism effort as evidence that Obama's principal objective -- destroying al-Qaeda -- can be achieved without an expanded troop presence.
And there you have it. The answer to AJ Strata's question, "How Dumb Is This Administration?"
However, there's a difference between dumb and reckless. And dumb this administration is not.
Before readers go nuts on this for the wrong reasons, implying that moles and spies are now in jeopardy, this bland release of an overarching statement likely does little if anything to risk anyone in particular. Al-Qaeda already knows there are spies and traitors in their midst. How else does al-Qaeda explain its recent inability to dodge the bullet and/or keep high value target movements entirely secret?
The citation of recent high value targets meeting their Maker (with or without envisioned virgins) at the working end of a Hellfire missile tells al-Qaeda nothing they don't already know. And, curiously, the ensuing paranoia has also likely even caused a few who are not spies to meet a fate befitting one. This is a good thing.
But what it is decidedly not is cause to abandon a ground force strategy in Afghanistan, one which would create a vacuum. And vacuums are invitations for jihadi homesteading. This is what drew them to the wild west FATA lands in northern Pakistan, once the vacuum in Afghanistan was filled by American firepower.
Because we can send a few terrorists to confirm or obliterate their deeply held views of God and His Will first hand in Pakistan is no argument - none - for the abandonment of Afghan territory, ceding authority to those who would come in and wield power. This is a recipe for disaster.
Didn't we already, as an entire united nation some years ago, decry the counterterrorism strategy of sending a few Tomahawks into bin Laden's vacated lairs? Why, suddenly, after all we've learned, is this now seemingly a good idea? Because our intelligence is better? Really? That's it?
To argue that because our intelligence on HVT's (High Value Targets) is much better and more effective and thus a ground surge to secure Afghanistan is not necessary is akin to arguing that you have learned that sunlight is good for your roses, so forget all that silly water business. It's simply asinine on its face.
If readers are going to make hay about the usage of intelligence and sharing it with the Washington Post (et al), be sure to make the right hay. The shared remarks are of little harm in and of themselves. But that the vague intelligence (which is no secret) is used to further a stupid strategy with a track record of failure... Well, that's the hay to make here.