Iraq Clearly NOT a Distraction from bin Laden Hunt

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So, let me get this straight. Bush critics have been whining for years that the president wasn't doing enough to kill bin Laden and his deputies -- that he should essentially invade Pakistan, Syria and other places to kill him or Zawahiri if US officials get the right intel.

And now the New York Times -- after Obama wins largely on an anti-Bush referendum -- decides to publish a story that shows all the way back in 2004, the much-maligned Donald Rumsfeld secured an executive order form the president to allow the same kind of commando raids administration critics have been saying should have been pursued all along? And don't tell me the NYT didn't have a good portion of this story a month ago...this is an evergreen piece that didn't have any news hook to it other than the recent Syria raid, which is probably when Mazzetti and Schmitt fleshed out most of the sourcing.

Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda in Many Countries

WASHINGTON The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.

These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.

In 2006, for example, a Navy Seal team raided a suspected militants compound in the Bajaur region of Pakistan, according to a former top official of the Central Intelligence Agency. Officials watched the entire mission captured by the video camera of a remotely piloted Predator aircraft in real time in the C.I.A.s Counterterrorist Center at the agencys headquarters in Virginia 7,000 miles away.

Some of the military missions have been conducted in close coordination with the C.I.A., according to senior American officials, who said that in others, like the Special Operations raid in Syria on Oct. 26 of this year, the military commandos acted in support of C.I.A.-directed operations.

But as many as a dozen additional operations have been canceled in the past four years, often to the dismay of military commanders, senior military officials said. They said senior administration officials had decided in these cases that the missions were too risky, were too diplomatically explosive or relied on insufficient evidence.

More than a half-dozen officials, including current and former military and intelligence officials as well as senior Bush administration policy makers, described details of the 2004 military order on the condition of anonymity because of its politically delicate nature. Spokesmen for the White House, the Defense Department and the military declined to comment.

Apart from the 2006 raid into Pakistan, the American officials refused to describe in detail what they said had been nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks, except to say they had been carried out in Syria, Pakistan and other countries. They made clear that there had been no raids into Iran using that authority, but they suggested that American forces had carried out reconnaissance missions in Iran using other classified directives.

According to a senior administration official, the new authority was spelled out in a classified document called Al Qaeda Network Exord, or execute order, that streamlined the approval process for the military to act outside officially declared war zones. Where in the past the Pentagon needed to get approval for missions on a case-by-case basis, which could take days when there were only hours to act, the new order specified a way for Pentagon planners to get the green light for a mission far more quickly, the official said.

Be sure to read the rest of the story HERE...

-- Christian

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