September 5, 2014

No, Actually Al-Qaida Was Not ‘On the Run’

During Operation Neptune Spear, the U.S. Special Forces mission to terminate Osama bin Laden, Navy SEALs recovered a treasure trove of intelligence information on al-Qaida. One official called it “the single largest collection of senior terrorist material ever.” That information has been kept tightly under wraps. There’s good reason for secrecy, but The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes notes something interesting: Much of the intelligence told a very different story from Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign narrative that al-Qaida was “decimated” and “on the run.” There was a grain of truth in Obama’s claims, but as Hayes writes, the problem was “the administration chose to portray [its] short-term tactical successes as long-term strategic victories.” Furthermore, “The official spin required a static analysis of al Qaeda and its leadership, an assumption that al Qaeda wouldn’t adequately replace fallen leaders or adjust its strategy to counter U.S. moves.” (Wait, al-Qaida had a strategy?) The administration carefully leaked particular information to bolster its deceitful claims, all while U.S. intelligence was telling them of al-Qaida’s expansion (take its present push in South Asia, for example, or its outgrowth in ISIL). It’s inexcusable for intelligence to become merely campaign PR, but false PR is even worse. More…

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