Editor’s Note – As the President meets with NATO allies, maybe he will learn what many of the members nations already know, ISIS/ISIL is a direct threat to them and also to America. With many people in America joining them, the fear is they can return home because they have passports.
Perhaps it is not that easy, but it certainly is something to fear.
What is more frightening is that hot spots like Minnesota are producing so many home grown converts to violent jihad. What is more frightening than that is our leaky southern border, but it gets worse.
With so many traveling to the US with visas, what is our government doing to track them all? Apparently very little since an estimated 6,000 people with student visas have over stayed and are MISSING!
This is not a “manageable problem” and Obama just does not get it, nor can he bring himself to say the words off prompter. When he speaks from a prompter, his words are different.
This shows us what he really means – off prompter the words are from his core. Therefore he still cannot name the enemy, nor does he believe the threat despite the fact that we all see the danger.
The President is the person who is supposed to know all the intelligence estimates, not us. That is willful dissonance, and we are on our own. This was supposed to be fixed after the 9/11 Commission Report!
US Immigration Fears Terror Threat From 6,000 Missing on Student Visas
The Obama administration is unable to locate 6,000 foreign nationals who have entered the United States on student visas, raising concerns about the government’s ability to track potential terror suspects who may already be in the country.
“My greatest concern is that they could be doing anything,” Peter Edge, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official who oversees investigations into visa violators, told ABC News. “Some of them could be here to do us harm.”
The news comes as Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to block British jihadists with passports from re-entering Britain as the threat of violence from the Islamic State intensifies.
The move builds on a pledge he made Monday to withdraw passports from those within the United Kingdom suspected of having traveled abroad to fight alongside terrorist groups.
According to ABC News, U.S. immigration officials have had difficulty keeping track of the escalating number of foreign students entering the United States.
In the past year alone, 58,000 students overstayed their visas.
“They just disappear,” Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn told ABC News. “They get the visas and they disappear.”
Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 26 student visa holders have been arrested in the United States on terrorism-related charges, ABC News reported.
The 9/11 Commission had recommended that the student visa program be tightened to combat future threats but the system continues to remain vulnerable to abuse.
There are currently 9,000 institutions of higher learning which are on the government approved list certifying them to accept overseas applicants.
But Congress has raised concerns that immigration officials have continued to grant schools certification even when they lack accreditation, state certification, or other measurable academic standards.
“When schools are not legitimate that enables terrorists to come here under a fraudulent basis and disappear into the fabric of society without anybody knowing that they are here for illegitimate reason,” Janice Kephart, counsel to the 9/11 Commission, told ABC News.
“Because the system itself will say they’re here legitimately when in fact they’re not.”
Schools are ultimately responsible for keeping track of visa holders and are required to report to the government if students fail to attend class, but a number of institutions have been more focused on selling visas rather than educating students.
“We know we have a lot of non-accredited universities that are using this system to bring people in, collect money, and not educate them at all,” Coburn said. “To me, it’s a mess.”
Edge said that while immigration agents are attempting to locate missing students, there is “a lot more work to do” to tighten the student visa program, ABC News reported.
By Scott W. Winchell (SUA Editor) and Denise Simon (Associate Editor)
When your first statement in a negotiation is that you are not going to negotiate, how does that make it a negotiation and how is the other side doing something wrong as it tries to negotiate? “No negotiating…” “Not gonna happen…” “…this is not how a Democracy works…” – Obama today in a speech about the debt ceiling, the budget, and Obama Care – government shutdown is yours Mr. Obama, because you do not negotiate, you do not have a budget!
This is all being said and done as the current administration has embarked on negotiating with Iran, negotiating with the Palestinians, negotiating with the Russians over Syria, but you cannot negotiate with the people’s elected representatives?
By the way Mr. President, this is not a democracy, we are a Representative Republic with a Constitution, just a reminder as you lambaste Congress, or more precisely, House Republicans and the Tea Party as if they were not being Constitutional.
Then, in the process of so-called negotiating, we have one question for you Mr. President, where is the people’s budget? These incessant continuing resolutions (CRs) are your fault, not the fault of Republicans in the House or the Senate.
You have sent uproarious budgets to Congress that even your party’s minions could not pass but everyone else is wrong? So to avoid the further embarrassment of losing 0-100 on the Senate floor, your party has decided to rule by fiat and CR.
You tell the country, and its echoed by the likes of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, that its the Tea Party’s fault. The last I looked, the Tea Party people are American citizens who voted for a certain candidate to carry out there wishes.
The same week as the Nairobi attack, and the same time you open dialogue with a terrorist state called the Islamic Republic of Iran that is creating nuclear weapons?
You sir, and others, owe the American people an apology – how dare you castigate the very citizenry you were elected to lead while currying favor with our enemies? Blaming others is just another indicator of how bad a leader you are and what a farce you are on the international stage. You do not get your way, so you stomp on the ground, pound the podium, and read excoriating diarrhea from your teleprompter to adoring crowds that is in no way numerous enough for you to claim any mandate.
Each House Representative was elected by a majority of approximately 700-800,000 citizens that comprise each of the 435 districts in the United States. That means at least half of those voters lean toward or are actual Tea Party members if their representative calls themselves as part of the Tea Party Caucus. But that does not stop the name-calling, the innuendos, the gutter talk, the blatant maligning of a very large group of fellow citizens.
Instead, and many of us remember it vividly, your party forced this Obama Care/ACA abomination down our throats in 2010, by hook and crook and even through bribery, ask Mary Landrieu, et al. You had control of both houses of Congress and you had to cheat to get your way to victory on passing the ACA and now that America is pushing back, you divide and polarize the nation. See a comprehensive list of the bribery here. The worst was watching Mary Landrieu call Obama Care the ‘law of the land’ on the Senate floor today – one of the holdouts in 2010 who had to be bribed to vote for the ACA.
You have the bully pulpit yet you cast the blame all the way back to Bush again. That is why your party took a shellacking in 2010 and the people elected representatives that reflect their views – and they view Obama Care as a complete failure that is tearing this nation apart.
In addition now, seems its time to bash Fox News again – the most watched TV news network for the past 13 years. So now, you insult that very large demographic? Again? What a “uniter”! Shameful! The only one practicing ‘brinkmanship’ is you, the Democrats – and the “manufactured crisis” is your tool, used frequently – yet you blame the right. That is guilt transference.
Boehner Ad Attacks Obama for Negotiating With Putin, but Not Congress
House Speaker John Boehner criticized President Barack Obama Thursday for negotiating with Russia over Syria but refusing to strike a deal with Congress over the debt ceiling. The attack came in an Internet video.
“The Obama administration on working with Congress to address the debt and deficit,” the ad reads. Then it shows the president and top White House officials saying they won’t negotiate with Republicans on the debt ceiling.
“The Obama administration on working with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin on Syria,” the ad continues before showing the president and his team talking about negotiations with Russia over Syria’s chemical weapons.
“Why is the Obama administration willing to negotiate with Putin on Syria, but not with Congress to address Washington’s spending problem?” it asks.
House Republican leaders want to add various provisions, including a one-year delay in the Affordable Care Act, to a bill that would raise the nation’s debt ceiling. But the president has insisted on a bill raising the nation’s borrowing limit that is free of amendments.
The debt limit must be raised by mid-October or the government will be unable to pay its bills, according to the Treasury Department.
Urgent: Should Obamacare Be Repealed? Vote Here Now!
By Scott W. Winchell, Editor – As SUA continues to report straight from the true leadership of the most senior commanders on the ground in the Syrian Rebel forces, we suggest that our readers consider the following article by our friend Andy McCarthy below and a few added thoughts.
Once again Andy clarifies that which has become so muddy in terms of constitutionality, along with Obama’s global reputation and its ties or separations with the American nation and its people. In our information gathering in the Middle East, not just in Syria, all too often the people there see our President incorrectly; they equate him as having the ability to do as he pleases and his actions are seen as reflecting the conscience of the entire nation. After all, that is what they witness(ed) in their own leadership; usually under a large and cruel thumb.
Therefore, we take great pains to point out that our President is merely a part of our government, a co-equal branch of three distinct branches, where dissent is common and encouraged, and checks and balances are supposed to rule the day. The current leader of this country speaks from the perspective of his support system, often very much at odds with other large portions of the nation. This concept is hard to understand in the Arab Street. So it is important to understand how they look at us, and our President.
Andy clears this up, cleanly and concisely.
One facet that we would like to add though, is that just because we hear the term “Allah hu Akbar” shouted in almost every video we watch, it does not necessarily connote devotion to fundamental or fanatical Islam. McCain is partially correct in this regard, but he does not explain it well, nor does he realize that he is interacting with a faction(s) that purports to be the decision making body, but is not actually controlling and commanding forces in the field.
When in Aleppo, MG Vallely asked this question of the senior commanders, and they echoed the thought, and they intoned that saying “Allah hu Akbar” there is a knee-jerk reaction to powerful incidents akin to typing “OMG” (Oh my God!) here in a text on Twitter or Facebook! It is not, again not, always a depiction of fanaticism, there are many, many levels of piety in Islam. We need to stress again, Eastern culture and Western culture rarely coincide or translate well.
The people McCain, Obama, and Kerry believe to be moderates belies the term – an over used and misleading term; moderate. Those he calls moderate are aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and worse. It is an oxymoron in motion again as we witnessed in Egypt, one doomed to be at odds with America. Some people never learn.
The people McCain and John Kerry, along with the President talk to concerning Syria are on the outside looking in, yet when invited to talk with the commanders on the ground, they look the other way. SUA has attempted repeatedly to point out this crucial issue, but only recently do we see movement in the correct direction among policy makers.
There are many factions in the rebel cause, yet only one is truly, fully in charge – keeping radicals at bay so as to fight only one enemy at a time. These radicals have not taken over the rebellion as many purport but they are strengthening with so much money flowing their way. It is disheartening to see and hear people like Karl Rove, of all folks, opine otherwise, as the true fighters, the nationalistic and more secular majority receive so little in the way of help.
Time for facts America, not political rhetoric, face saving gestures and ploys, misinformation and deflection, and keeping the public in the dark – just shameful, yet, our nation is once again asked to pour its treasure and blood into yet another foreign policy disaster. We should be involved, but certainly not in the fashion Obama and his crew have devised so haphazardly – “Keystone Kops”!
Is Obama waiting to launch on 9/11? Lighting those candles would be a travesty and a heinous nightmare!
I respectfully dissent from the editors’ support for U.S. military intervention in Syria, which expands on the corporate position National Review staked out last week.
While the credibility of an American president is no small thing, it is simply wrong to equate Barack Obama’s credibility with that of the United States, as the editors do: “The other [option left to Congress besides green-lighting an attack on Syria] is to turn [Obama] down and destroy the president’s credibility, and hence the nation’s.” (Emphasis added.) Ironically, their editorial goes on to deride conservative opponents of military intervention as overly simplistic. But it is the editors who oversimplify matters. American credibility on the international stage is bound up in the recognition of, and willingness to act on, vital national interests. It is not embodied by any single political actor – indeed, when one branch of government acts against the national interest, our system is designed to enable the other branches to put a stop to it.
The editors miss this point because they have conflated two critically different constitutional concepts: the unitary executive and separation of powers. Thus does the editorial offer up Alexander Hamilton as an exemplar of the Founders’ allegedly harmonious desire for “a strong commander-in-chief” who could “act with ‘decision, activity, secrecy and dispatch.’” The implication is that for Congress – and “some on the right” – to oppose a president’s foreign-affairs decisions is to undermine our constitutional order and, thus, our government’s “credibility” (meaning, effectiveness) in foreign affairs.
In context, however, Hamilton was not arguing (in Federalist 70) for an executive unfettered by congressional checks and opposition. He was advocating that the executive branch not be divided – i.e., that all the powers granted to the president be reposed in a single official rather than in multiple consuls or a committee. Hamilton did not come close to suggesting that Congress should avoid impeding the president. To the contrary, he contended that his suggested unitary executive model would make it easier for Congress and the public to rein in executive power. As he put it in that same essay the editors cite, “the executive power is more easily confined when it is one.”
Indeed, as memorialized in the records of the Constitutional Convention, even Hamilton, though the most enthusiastic of the Framers for a powerful executive, acknowledged that the president’s commander-in-chief powers were limited to “the direction of war when authorized or begun” (emphasis added). “Begun” obviously refers to the situation when the nation has been attacked. Beyond that, presidential uses of force would be appropriate only “when authorized” – and the Constitution vests the power to authorize in Congress.
While I disagree with a number of his conclusions, a law review article by Valparaiso’s D. A. Jeremy Telman ably recounts the relevant Constitutional Convention debates. Pierce Butler, he notes, actually proposed that the power to initiate war be vested in the president. The notion was roundly rejected, with Butler upbraided by Elbridge Gerry, who exclaimed that he “never expected to hear in a republic a motion to empower the Executive alone to declare war.”
As James Madison put it in a letter to Thomas Jefferson: “The constitution supposes . . . that the Ex[ecutive] is the branch of power most interested in war, [and] most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legisl[ature].” Similarly, writing as Helvidius in his exchange with Alexander Hamilton, Madison asserted that “[i]n no part of the constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department.” As Michael Ramsey put it, “Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, Wilson, Washington, Jay, Marshall, and an array of lesser figures indicated that war power lay primarily with Congress, and no prominent figure took the other side.”
No sensible person contests the president’s power – in fact, his duty – to take unilateral action in the nation’s defense when we are under attack or the threat of imminent attack. But outside such exigencies, congressional authorization is a pre-condition to the president’s use of force. That necessarily implies that Congress may disagree with the president’s assessment. As today’s Obama partisans were fond of reminding us throughout the Bush years, the president does not get a blank check.
I have always been a proponent of strong executive power. I do not believe Congress may micromanage functions the Constitution actually assigns to the executive – including command over war fighting once war is authorized. I do not believe Congress may usurp or reassign to the judiciary powers that the Constitution vests in the president, such as the collection of intelligence against foreign powers. Nevertheless, again and again, the records of debates over the Constitution, and the Federalist papers on which the editors rely, demonstrate that the Framers were more worried about executive excess than executive credibility. The controversy was not between those who wanted a strong executive and those who did not; it was between those who believed the proposed constitution included enough checks against potential executive abuse and those who thought it needed more.
Consequently, the Framers armed Congress with the power to declare war. (As our prior discussions here have elucidated, while I am in broad agreement with many aspects of my friend John Yoo’s analysis of constitutional power – see e.g., here – I respectfully disagree with his minimization of Congress’s Article I power to declare war, an interpretation tough to square with the recorded sentiments of Madison, among other framers.) The Constitution further enables Congress to defund military operations. It expressly limits appropriations for a standing federal army to two-year periods – precisely because the Framers worried that control over a powerful, permanent army would lead to abuses of presidential power.
Moreover, the Constitution denies the president the power make treaties unilaterally – he must obtain the approval of a Senate supermajority. Naturally, this arrangement can lead to embarrassing strikes against presidential credibility. After all, the president signs on to international compacts, ostensibly committing the nation to them, before submitting them for Senate consent. Yet the list of treaties that have not been ratified is long (see, e.g., here). Not only has congressional opposition to presidentially endorsed treaties not led to any discernible diminution of American – as opposed to presidential – credibility;National Review often finds itself standing athwart bad treaties, yelling, “Stop!” In 2010, for example, the editors were justifiably adamant that the “New START” pact negotiated with the Russians by President Obama was a terrible deal for the United States, and they thus urged the Senate to “send the administration back to the negotiating table.” No one seemed too terribly worried that American credibility would be wounded by such interference with the president’s capacity to act decisively and with dispatch on the world stage.
That is probably because the editors recognize, even if it has temporarily escaped them in connection with Syria, that national credibility and presidential credibility are not the same thing. National credibility is a combination of factors that prominently include vital national interests and the public’s perception of those interests, as well as the president’s credibility. It is not Congress’s job to rescue a president’s credibility by approving his recklessness; it is the president’s job to preserve his credibility by aligning his “red lines” with the country’s interests rather than his own post-American ideology.
Libya did not, as the editors suggest, give up its nuclear program just because President Bush acted decisively in toppling Saddam Hussein. Qaddafi forfeited his program because the 9/11 attacks convinced the American public – including, for a time, much of the Left – that the U.S. could not abide the risk of WMD left in the hands of regimes that had a demonstrated propensity to cooperate with anti-American jihadists. Those political conditions induced Bush to act against Afghanistan and caused the public to support – again, for a time – action against Iraq. But once the public sensed that there was no longer a connection between Bush’s military operations and American national security – i.e., once the missions became more identified with dubious Islamic democracy promotion than with crushing terrorists and their state sponsors – political support waned. For all the Democrats’ “Bush lied and people died” demagoguery, the problem was not President Bush’s credibility; it was that the incoherent and costly missions no longer seemed to be in America’s vital interests.
The editors’ related point about Iran and Hezbollah is similarly ill-conceived. Iran already knows the United States is not serious about warnings not to acquire WMDs. For decades, we have known that Iran’s client, Assad, has chemical weapons; that Iran has some WMD and is working assiduously to add nukes to its arsenal; and that the mullahs facilitate terrorist organizations in attacks against the United States. In response, we have done virtually nothing. As for Hezbollah – which is Iran’s forward terrorist wing and has had a working relationship with al-Qaeda since the early Nineties – its operatives have killed hundreds of Americans, again with no comeuppance. In light of this shameful history of epic, bipartisan national-security failure, do the editors seriously think Iran and Hezbollah’s judgment about American credibility hangs on today’s comparative trifle – viz., whether Congress authorizes strikes against Syria so limited that Obama vows they will not seek or achieve regime change? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the “self-inflicted humiliation” train left the station long ago.
The issue in Syria is not Obama’s credibility. It is that there is no national interest in seeing one set of America’s mortal enemies prevail over another, while there is merit in letting them beat each others’ brains in if that’s what they’re determined to do. If a threat were to arise tomorrow in which American national security were truly at stake, Congress’s refusal to endorse Obama’s bungling of episodes in which it was not at stake would make no difference – no more than the Left’s campaign to delegitimize and discredit Bush after the 2000 election debacle had the slightest impact on Bush’s capacity to respond rapidly and robustly to the 9/11 attacks.
Since there is no American interest in seeing factions dominated by al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood prevail over Assad and his backers, the editors have to invent one. Thus, with an unintentionally amusing admonition against any “unrealistic expectation for what we can achieve in Syria,” the editors call for “strengthening elements of the Syrian opposition we can trust.” And who are those elements? The editors don’t say – after all, to describe them accurately would be to admit that they do not exist in anything approaching the numbers capable of overcoming the Islamic supremacists on opposing sides of the civil war.
The editors apparently believe this void can be filled by what I’ve called the “Vacuum” fantasy. This narrative, popular among neoconservatives and Beltway Republicans, holds that our problems in the Middle East stem not from the region’s Islamic supremacist culture but from the vacuum supposedly created by what the editors call “Obama’s policy of passivity.” It is this policy, we are to believe, that has caused the Syrian opposition to become “more radical.” Apparently, if the administration had been more engaged, the Muslim Brotherhood would have melted away – although, given that Obama’s idea of engagement is to promote the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s not altogether clear how this would have worked.
In reality, the Assad regime’s most powerful opponents – like Mubarak’s, like Qaddafi’s – have always been Islamic supremacists. They were kept in check by the ruthlessness of the dictators, particularly Assad the elder, who slaughtered thousands of Islamic supremacists in the 1982 Hama massacre. What has changed in recent years is that the American-supported policy of replacing dictators with Potemkin democracy – i.e., popular elections sans commitment to minority rights and democratic culture – has empowered the opposition. It turns out that Islamic supremacists are, if anything, more anti-democratic than the dictators, and just as brutal when they get their hands on power. The American policy in question is not one Obama came up with, even if his unabashed embrace of Islamic supremacists has made things worse.
The editors would have the administration “craft and lead an international coalition committed to a post-Assad Syria.” Committed to what kind of post-Assad Syria? Again, they don’t say, other than that, whatever it will be, it will require “staying engaged beyond the next few weeks.”
So is the plan to do Iraq again – at enormous cost, occupy a country in which the only thing opposing Islamists agree about is how much they hate us and our occupation . . . until we finally get out of the way and let them get back to killing each other? Do we promote free elections and guarantee a Muslim Brotherhood regime – i.e., do Morsi Act II in Syria? Do we keep pretending, à la John McCain, that jihadists are “moderates” we can work with, that their Allahu Akbar!-raving aggression is no different from the religious devotion of average American Christians? Or do we prop up a pro-American Mubarak-type dictator who could never win a free election and try not to notice how he goes about taming Islamic supremacists? Whatever the plan is, where is the unified international coalition supporting it going to come from? And with no one able to articulate how getting sucked into Syria advances American national security, where is the American political support going to come from?
As for the editors’ parting shot, conservative non-interventionists are not foolish enough to believe “we can be done with the world.” We just insist on dealing with the world as it actually is – in the Middle East, it is more like Benghazi than Shangri-La. We want our liabilities limited by our reality, not our dreams. There are many ways for the United States to remain engaged and pursue its limited interests in Syria without military intervention and without empowering our enemies. That may sound “simple,” but better that than delusional.
Additional Editor’s Note – In paragraph 14, an extra “the” was in the following sentence: “…I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the “self-inflicted humiliation” the train left the station long ago” – we have removed this minor error above.
Editor’s Note – We in America take great pride in finally nailing Osama Bin Laden, and rightfully so – however, in America, despite the heinous 9-11 event, we live relatively free from daily terror threats as compared to Israel. In Israel, the civilians live an existential existence and rely heavily on their intelligence services and military.
That kind of intensity is something we in America do not experience, but in Israel, its a whole different world, and their services do not fail, and they succeed in real time – days not years. Compare the facts in the well crafted essay below about the differences and the expense.
Inside Israel’s Hunt for Arch Terrorists: How Shin Bet Always Gets Its Man
The operation to track down and eliminate the the arch-terrorist Osama Bin Laden was a well- planned and ultimately well- executed American intelligence operation- one of the most successful in recent history.
It was the culmination of long years of patient intelligence gathering by at least sixteen top secret US organizations, among them:
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),
United States Department of Defense Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA),
Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM),
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA),
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA),
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA),
National Reconnaissance Office (NRO),
National Security Agency (NSA),
Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI),
United States Department of Energy Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (OICI),
United States Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A),
Coast Guard Intelligence (CGI),
United States Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),
Drug Enforcement Administration,
Office of National Security Intelligence (DEA/ONSI),
United States Department of State Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR),
and the United States Department of the Treasury Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI).
The total cost of taking out one really bad guy likely ran into the very high billions of American taxpayer dollars. For a base line: according to some credible media reports, on October 30, 2012, the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that the National Intelligence Program (NIP) budget for FY 2012 was $53.9 billion. The Military Intelligence Program (MIP) budget for FY 2012 was reported to be $21.5 billion. So the combined cost of American intelligence for a twelve month period alone amounted to a whopping 75.4 billion.
If you consider, that the hunt for Bin Laden went on for a number of years- combined with the associated costs of the mission- including the culmination brought about by the professionals of Seal Team Six on May 2, 2011- the ultimate total cost is nearly impossible to estimate.
Of course it was worth every penny – and the US intelligence professionals who pinpointed his ultimate whereabouts deserve the highest praise.
In recent months best-selling books were written about the Bin Laden assassination and to date at least two major motion pictures were produced on the subject.
The operation to take out Bin Laden will surely be going into the American history books.
With the world’s attention squarely focused on the current Gaza conflict, people take it almost for granted, that key Palestinian terror leaders with blood on their hands are eliminated with extraordinary precision, skill and even a certain amount of “elegance” by the IDF.
The current flare-up started with the superbly executed removal of Hamas armed wing Izzadin Kassam Brigades commander Ahmed Jabari in central Gaza last Wednesday. The textbook airstrike marked the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense targeting Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations in Gaza.
Grainy video footage shows a grey Kia saloon car driving through the crowded streets of Gaza City, at a speed designed not to attract notice. An ominous target cross-hair tracks the car from high above, which –as it enters an intersection with no one in the immediate vicinity-is suddenly engulfed in flames and smoke, as pieces of metal fly off.
The front of the Kia is blown away and blood, glass, shreds of carpet and one Nike tennis shoe are all that remains of the crushed, burned out chassis.
Two mangled bodies are retrieved from the burning wreckage, though parts of them have been hurled as high as the fourth-floor window of an adjacent building, with blood splashes on its white walls. A score has been settled with no innocent bystanders getting harmed in the process. Hamas armed wing Izzadin Kassam Brigades commander Ahmed Jabari is no more.
Operation Pillar of Defense is an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation in the Gaza Strip, officially launched on 14 November 2012 with the targeted killing of bloody-handed arch terrorist Ahmed Jabari.
The stated aims of the Israeli operation are to halt the indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilian targets originating from the Gaza Strip and to disrupt the capabilities of militant organizations.
The operation began in response to three events: Palestinian groups launching over 100 rockets at Israeli civilians over a 24-hour period, an attack on an Israeli military patrol jeep within Israeli borders by Gaza militants, and a tunnel explosion caused by IEDs near Israeli soldiers on the Israeli side of the fence.
Subsequently, the IDF has launched more than 1,400 air, tank, and warship strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip so far including rocket launching pads, weapons depots, individual key terrorist leaders and facilities of the Hamas authority in Gaza.
During the operation, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad further intensified their rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns in an offensive code named by Hamas Operation “Stones of Baked Clay” in reference to a verse from the Quran (Surah 105:4).
It is known as “Operation Blue Sky” by members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The militant groups fired over 1,147 Iranian Fajr-5, Russian Grad rockets, Qassams and mortars into Rishon LeZion, Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon and other population centers; Tel Aviv was hit for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War, and rockets were aimed at Jerusalem. The Palestinian rockets have killed four Israeli civilians – three of them in a direct hit on a home in Kiryat Malachi – one Israeli soldier, and at least two Palestinian civilians.
By November 19, over 252 Israelis had been physically injured in rocket attacks, and thirty more had been treated for acute stress reaction.
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted at least 342 of rockets fired into Israel, 664 rockets have landed in Israeli territory. (See my earlier column.)
In what the Shin Bet is calling one of the most successful intelligence-based operations since Operation Pillar of Defense began last week, four senior Islamic Jihad terrorists were hit during a well planned and executed precision airstrike on a high-rise building in Gaza City, on Monday afternoon.
It was the second strike on the above- mentioned building in two days. The Hamas TV station, Al Aqsa, is located on the top floor. The building also houses the offices of Britain’s Sky News and Saudi-owned Al Arabiya Channel. Most journalists heeding repeated Israeli warnings left the premises on Sunday following the initial strike.
Terrorist leaders targeted at that site were:
Baha Abu al-Ata, a member of the Higher Military Council, was the commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Gaza City Brigade and is involved in orchestrating rocket launching and terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Al-Ata was also deeply involved in the manufacturing of arms and firing long-range rockets at Israel.
Tissir Mahmoud Mahmedd Jabari was born in 1972 and is a resident of Sajaiya Turkman, Gaza City. Jabari was also a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative, a member of the Higher Military Council and Head of the organization’s operation branch. Previously, Jabari was the Gaza City Regional Commander for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
He was personally involved in carrying out various terror attacks against Israel, including massive rocket fire and attacks against IDF soldiers. Jabari also held responsibility for training within the organization and gave approval for the carrying out of terror attacks.
He is a key figure within the long-range rocket launching operations and responsible for internal security.
Islamic Jihad identified [one of] the dead men as Ramiz Harab, one of its senior commanders. Harab was born in 1976, was a resident of Shujaiyya Jadida and was responsible for the propaganda of the Gaza City brigade, he was an aide to Tissir Jabari and was formerly head of the Sheikh Rajuan Division.
Another terrorist killed in the surgical airstrike was Hallil Bahatini, a senior Islamic Jihad commander who has also played a key role in the rocket fire on Israel’s south. Just think for a minute: who provided the essential “real-time” intelligence information on thousands of individual targets to the IAF and other IDF units?
Who gathered the extraordinary information that was so precise, that it also provided a reliable system to prevent loss of innocent Palestinian lives? Who sent the thousands of text messages, warning emails, leaflets and Arabic-speaking phone calls to individuals in the conflict zones?
How much Israeli intelligence effort went into preventing as many innocent Palestinian’s deaths as they did by the pinpoint accuracy demonstrated in every one of the thousand targeted attacks so far?
In the mind of this writer, in the past week alone, Israel carried out -with extraordinary preparedness – well over one thousand individual intelligence coups on the scale of the single US assassination that had Bin Laden in the crosshairs!
The unsung heroes of Israel’s struggle to live in peace are the nameless faceless intelligence personnel that are on the front lines of the country’s defense. I know what you are thinking, yes, of course you are thinking of the legendary Mossad.
Actually, in great measure, the true intel heroes of the current conflict are mostly members of the General Security Services (Shin Bet). This security service lives in the shadows and only rarely is discussed in public.
One such earlier occasion was the elimination of a highly dangerous Palestinian terrorist master bomb maker. Described as “well educated, ambitious, and soft-spoken,” Yahya Ayyash hailed from a relatively affluent family.
Married, with one child, Ayyash had planned to study for a master’s degree in Jordan, but was denied permission to do so by Israeli authorities. It was around this time he joined Hamas.
Ayyash built the bombs used in a number of Hamas suicide attacks: the Mehola Junction bombing, the Afula Bus massacre, the Hadera central station massacre, the Tel Aviv bus 5 massacre, the Egged bus 36 bombing, the Ramat Gan bus 20 bombing, and the Jerusalem bus 26 bombing.
As part of a strategic alliance between Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ayyash also built the deadly bombs used by Islamic Jihad at the Beit Lid massacre.
Because TNT and other high explosives were generally not available in the Palestinian territories (the West Bank and Gaza strip), Ayyash often used a combination of acetone and detergent, both commonly available household products. When combined, they form acetone peroxide, an explosive known as “Mother of Satan” for its extraordinary instability.
Ayyash first came to the attention of Israeli security forces as a result of the failed bombing of Ramat Ef’al. Following a high-speed chase, three would-be Hamas suicide bombers were arrested by police. When police inspected their car, they found it rigged with a bomb—five 12-kilogram (26 lb) gasoline tanks filled to capacity, connected to an acetone peroxide-based detonator.
After evacuating the area, sappers used a robot armed with a shotgun to shoot the detonator, in the hopes of defusing it. Instead, it detonated, in a massive explosion. [Police investigators] “were sure that if it had been detonated in a crowded area, it would have killed hundreds”.
Shin Bet investigators learned Ayyash’s name during subsequent interrogation of the three arrested suspects.
Following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Palestinian Authority began to cooperate more closely with Shin Bet in hunting Ayyash. Shin Bet learned (through means that remain classified to this day) that Ayyash had, on occasion, spent the night in the Gaza City home of Osama Hamad, a childhood friend of his. Shin Bet had previously had dealings with Kamil Hamad, Osama Hamad’s uncle.
In October 1995, Shin Bet operatives approached Kamil Hamad.
Kamil Hamad demanded money and Israeli identity cards for himself and his wives. After the Shin Bet threatened to inform Hamas of his betrayal, Kamil Hamad agreed to cooperate.
Shin Bet agents gave Hamad a cell phone, and told him it was bugged so they could listen in on Ayyash’s conversations. They did not tell Hamad that, in addition to eavesdropping devices, it also contained 15 grams of RDX explosive.
Kamil Hamad gave the phone to his nephew Osama, knowing that Ayyash regularly used Osama’s phones. At 8:00 am on 5 January 1996, Ayyash’s father called him.
Ayyash picked it up and talked with his father. Overhead, an Israeli plane picked up their conversation and relayed it to an Israeli command post.
When it was confirmed that it was Ayyash on the phone, Shin Bet remotely detonated it, killing Ayyash instantly.
The assassination was so elegantly masterful that a person standing right next to the terrorist bomb maker did not get hurt. Another feather in the cap of the Shin Bet: “The Militant”, an international communist newsweekly, reported that “100,000 Palestinians… attended the funeral”.
The State of Israel has a long-standing policy that it never confirms or denies its participation in selective assassinations. In line with this policy, Israel did not confirm or deny its role in killing Ayyash. This led to wild rumors and speculations as to the extent of their involvement.
As we watch in awe how individual terrorists are taken out of commission one after another in a systematic, highly professional and surgically precise fashion by the Israel Air Force, Navy and other special forces, we don’t think of the amount of painstaking intelligence gathering effort behind the scenes carried out by the undercover personnel of the Shin Bet.
On many previous occasions the Shin Bet has also worked closely with the Israeli Air Force in highly successful “targeted killings” of field commanders and senior leaders of the Palestinian militant factions of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and Fatah.
These high-precision targeted killings are usually done by helicopter gunships, where both IAF commanders and Shin Bet agents sit together in the command center monitoring the operation.
Shin Bet’s task is to give precise intelligence when and where the target will be available for a strike and then reacting to IAF drone feedback and ensuring the men on the site are indeed the correct targets.
Shin Bet’s motto is “Magen VeLo Yera’e” –or- “Defender that shall not be seen” .
Among thousands of highly skilled professional intelligence staff Shin Bet also employs a large number of fluent Arabic speakers, who are masterfully able to pass themselves off as Palestinians and go freely about the West Bank.
New recruits to these elite intelligence operations units are said to have to pass a test by going to a Palestinian market and engaging shoppers in conversations without raising any suspicions about their true identity.
The net result of years of meticulous information gathering under extremely dangerous circumstances in the back alleys of Gaza that is analyzed then processed- and later refined to actionable battlefield intelligence will long be remembered as one of history’s most spectacular intelligence coups.
Shin Bet agents play a highly dangerous game facing extraordinary personal dangers when they develop assets on the ground.
The terrorists are so paranoid that in many cases they also settle personal scores by accusing members of other clans of being informers to the Shin Bet.
Terror groups then publicly execute those accused of collaboration with Israel. At the time of this writing there was such an incident taking place in Gaza.
Masked gunmen publicly shot dead six suspected collaborators with Israel at a large Gaza City intersection Tuesday of this week, witnesses said. An Associated Press reporter saw a mob surrounding five of the bloodied corpses shortly after the killing.
Some in the crowd stomped and spat on the bodies. A sixth corpse was tied to a motorcycle and dragged through the streets as people screamed, “Spy! Spy!”
The Hamas military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam, claimed responsibility in a large handwritten note attached to a nearby electricity pole. Hamas said the six were killed because they gave Israel information about fighters and rocket launching sites.
The killing came on the seventh day of an Israeli military offensive that has killed more than 120 Palestinians, both militants and civilians. Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes, targeting rocket launching sites, weapons caches and homes of Hamas activists, as Palestinians fired hundreds of rockets at Israel.
In selecting its targets for airstrikes, Israel relies on unmanned spy planes, or drones, but also on a network of Palestinian collaborators who feed information to their handlers from Israel’s domestic Shin Bet security service.
Israel has relied on informers ever since it captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast War. Some are recruited with promises of work permits or money, while others are blackmailed into collaborating.
There is broad consensus among Palestinians that informers for Israel deserve harsh punishment, and it is rare to hear someone speak out against killings of alleged collaborators. Such public killings have been carried out in the West Bank and Gaza since the first intifada — or uprising — in the late 1980s.
Last Tuesday’s highly publicized killings took place in Gaza City’s Sheik Radwan neighborhood.
Witnesses said a van stopped at the intersection, where four masked men pushed the six suspected informers out of the vehicle. Salim Mahmoud, 18, said the gunmen ordered the six to lie face down in the street and then shot them dead. Another witness, 13-year-old Mokhmen al-Gazhali, said the informers were killed one by one, as he mimicked the sound of gunfire.
They said only a few people were in the street at first — most Gazans have been staying indoors because of the Israeli airstrikes — but the crowd quickly grew after the killings. Eventually several hundred men pushed and shoved to get a close look at the bodies, lying in a jumble on the ground.
“They should have been killed in a more brutal fashion so others don’t even think about working with the occupation (Israel),” said one of the bystanders, 24-year-old Ashraf Maher.
One body was then tied by a cable to the back of a motorcycle and dragged through the streets. A number of gunmen on motorcycles rode along as the body was pulled past a house of mourning for victims of an Israeli airstrike.
In Israel’s last major Gaza offensive four years ago, 17 suspected collaborators who fled after their prisons were hit in airstrikes were later shot dead in extra-judicial killings.
During the current offensive, Tuesday’s killings brought to eight the number of suspected informers being shot dead in public. On Friday, the body of one alleged informer was found in a garbage bin, and another was shot dead in the street. Hamas claimed responsibility for both killings.
Since seizing Gaza in 2007, Hamas has executed four informers by firing squad, and about a dozen more are on death row in Gaza.
When Israel’s controlled Gaza and the entire West Bank, some informers openly cooperated with Israeli forces. For example, one informer in the West Bank town of Jericho displayed a photograph of Israel’s army chief at the time on the wall of his office, in a defiant display of his allegiance.
After Israel pulled back troops from parts of the West Bank, he and others were given refuge in Israel. Other informers were evacuated from Gaza after Israel withdrew in 2005, but Israel is believed to have maintained a network there. Human rights groups have alleged, for example, that Gaza medical patients seeking treatment in Israel are sometimes approached by the Shin Bet at the crossing into Israel.
Some time ago, I learned first- hand from a senior Shin Bet operative that developing intelligence assets among the opposing population requires a great amount of skill, patience and sensitivity. The operative told me about a deep cover Palestinian asset who developed his cover and reputation among the terrorists by assisting would be suicide bombers on their way to their targets. (Unbeknownst to the informer, the Shin Bet replaced the high explosives with a dummy bomb.)
What this particular asset wanted in return for serving as a highly effective informer over a long period of time was that the Sin Bet officer running him on his dangerous mission should –as a personal favor- help him prepare for higher education by actually becoming his de facto math tutor.
There is no school that can prepare an agent for dealing with the human and psychological aspects of running a valuable asset.
Gathering small- sometimes insignificant-sounding tidbits and then painstakingly connecting the dots- turning chatter into actionable intelligence requires extraordinary professionalism.
Such a high degree of professionalism then results in creating an effective real-time road map to the armed forces of the IDF so that they can carry out their missions with laser accuracy and – in most cases – without considerable collateral damage.
Members of Israel’s General Security Service carry out their vital work in total anonymity most of their careers, but the results of their diligent work make a huge difference in the outcome of their nation’s ongoing war on terror.
Those nameless, faceless field officers are Israel’s front-line of defense, standing guard against the various terror groups whose aim is to kill as many innocents as possible.
Israel’s citizens owe them a great deal of gratitude!
Editor’s Note – A test of ‘principles and will’, or a test of how to achieve political ends, without alienating your base, but to also look like a ‘hawk’? Rarely does any action this White House decides upon hinges on the former, but always hinges on the later.
The fact that ‘Gitmo’ is still open, yet no new prisoners end up there speaks volumes. He knows he cannot in good conscience close it, but he can prevent it from growing in population. The trouble is, this tactic does the country one major disservice, no new intelligence is being gathered through enhanced interrogations. As many have mentioned, we are now only able to act upon information gleaned in the Bush Administration.
Reliance on old information is quickly reducing our ability to act strategically – therefore, we are acting only tactically now – drones, the weapon of choice that achieves all of the above, yet destroys information trails. The ‘trade craft’ so long relied upon, is now just a way of creating a list – a “kill list”!
If the party in power were reversed, the left would have long ago drummed the beat of impeachment for crimes against humanity, especially where American citizens were the target. To even try to argue otherwise would be the transparency we so thought we voted for…
Once again, politics trumps the security of America! Killing in theaters where war has not been declared…that is assassination! Especially since we are no longer in the “War on Terror”, and al Qaida is no longer a worry…
Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will
This was the enemy, served up in the latest chart from the intelligence agencies: 15 Qaeda suspects in Yemen with Western ties. The mug shots and brief biographies resembled a high school yearbook layout. Several were Americans. Two were teenagers, including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years.
President Obama, overseeing the regular Tuesday counterterrorism meeting of two dozen security officials in the White House Situation Room, took a moment to study the faces. It was Jan. 19, 2010, the end of a first year in office punctuated by terrorist plots and culminating in a brush with catastrophe over Detroit on Christmas Day, a reminder that a successful attack could derail his presidency. Yet he faced adversaries without uniforms, often indistinguishable from the civilians around them.
“How old are these people?” he asked, according to two officials present. “If they are starting to use children,” he said of Al Qaeda, “we are moving into a whole different phase.”
It was not a theoretical question: Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.
Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.
“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”
Nothing else in Mr. Obama’s first term has baffled liberal supporters and confounded conservative critics alike as his aggressive counterterrorism record. His actions have often remained inscrutable, obscured by awkward secrecy rules, polarized political commentary and the president’s own deep reserve.
In interviews with The New York Times, three dozen of his current and former advisers described Mr. Obama’s evolution since taking on the role, without precedent in presidential history, of personally overseeing the shadow war with Al Qaeda.
They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. While he was adamant about narrowing the fight and improving relations with the Muslim world, he has followed the metastasizing enemy into new and dangerous lands. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”
His first term has seen private warnings from top officials about a “Whac-A-Mole” approach to counterterrorism; the invention of a new category of aerial attack following complaints of careless targeting; and presidential acquiescence in a formula for counting civilian deaths that some officials think is skewed to produce low numbers.
The administration’s failure to forge a clear detention policy has created the impression among some members of Congress of a take-no-prisoners policy. And Mr. Obama’s ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, has complained to colleagues that the C.I.A.’s strikes drive American policy there, saying “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people,” a colleague said.
Beside the president at every step is his counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, who is variously compared by colleagues to a dogged police detective, tracking terrorists from his cavelike office in the White House basement, or a priest whose blessing has become indispensable to Mr. Obama, echoing the president’s attempt to apply the “just war” theories of Christian philosophers to a brutal modern conflict.
But the strikes that have eviscerated Al Qaeda — just since April, there have been 14 in Yemen, and 6 in Pakistan — have also tested both men’s commitment to the principles they have repeatedly said are necessary to defeat the enemy in the long term. Drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants; in his 2010 guilty plea, Faisal Shahzad, who had tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, justified targeting civilians by telling the judge, “When the drones hit, they don’t see children.”
Dennis C. Blair, director of national intelligence until he was fired in May 2010, said that discussions inside the White House of long-term strategy against Al Qaeda were sidelined by the intense focus on strikes. “The steady refrain in the White House was, ‘This is the only game in town’ — reminded me of body counts in Vietnam,” said Mr. Blair, a retired admiral who began his Navy service during that war.
Mr. Blair’s criticism, dismissed by White House officials as personal pique, nonetheless resonates inside the government.
William M. Daley, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff in 2011, said the president and his advisers understood that they could not keep adding new names to a kill list, from ever lower on the Qaeda totem pole. What remains unanswered is how much killing will be enough.
“One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20?” Mr. Daley said, describing the internal discussion. “At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?”
‘Maintain My Options’
A phalanx of retired generals and admirals stood behind Mr. Obama on the second day of his presidency, providing martial cover as he signed several executive orders to make good on campaign pledges. Brutal interrogation techniques were banned, he declared. And the prison at Guantánamo Bay would be closed.
What the new president did not say was that the orders contained a few subtle loopholes. They reflected a still unfamiliar Barack Obama, a realist who, unlike some of his fervent supporters, was never carried away by his own rhetoric. Instead, he was already putting his lawyerly mind to carving out the maximum amount of maneuvering room to fight terrorism as he saw fit.
It was a pattern that would be seen repeatedly, from his response to Republican complaints that he wanted to read terrorists their rights, to his acceptance of the C.I.A.’s method for counting civilian casualties in drone strikes.
The day before the executive orders were issued, the C.I.A.’s top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, had called the White House in a panic. The order prohibited the agency from operating detention facilities, closing once and for all the secret overseas “black sites” where interrogators had brutalized terrorist suspects.
“The way this is written, you are going to take us out of the rendition business,” Mr. Rizzo told Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama’s White House counsel, referring to the much-criticized practice of grabbing a terrorist suspect abroad and delivering him to another country for interrogation or trial. The problem, Mr. Rizzo explained, was that the C.I.A. sometimes held such suspects for a day or two while awaiting a flight. The order appeared to outlaw that.
Mr. Craig assured him that the new president had no intention of ending rendition — only its abuse, which could lead to American complicity in torture abroad. So a new definition of “detention facility” was inserted, excluding places used to hold people “on a short-term, transitory basis.” Problem solved — and no messy public explanation damped Mr. Obama’s celebration.
“Pragmatism over ideology,” his campaign national security team had advised in a memo in March 2008. It was counsel that only reinforced the president’s instincts.
Even before he was sworn in, Mr. Obama’s advisers had warned him against taking a categorical position on what would be done with Guantánamo detainees. The deft insertion of some wiggle words in the president’s order showed that the advice was followed.
Some detainees would be transferred to prisons in other countries, or released, it said. Some would be prosecuted — if “feasible” — in criminal courts. Military commissions, which Mr. Obama had criticized, were not mentioned — and thus not ruled out.
As for those who could not be transferred or tried but were judged too dangerous for release? Their “disposition” would be handled by “lawful means, consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.”
A few sharp-eyed observers inside and outside the government understood what the public did not. Without showing his hand, Mr. Obama had preserved three major policies — rendition, military commissions and indefinite detention — that have been targets of human rights groups since the 2001 terrorist attacks.
But a year later, with Congress trying to force him to try all terrorism suspects using revamped military commissions, he deployed his legal skills differently — to preserve trials in civilian courts.
It was shortly after Dec. 25, 2009, following a close call in which a Qaeda-trained operative named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had boarded a Detroit-bound airliner with a bomb sewn into his underwear.
Mr. Obama was taking a drubbing from Republicans over the government’s decision to read the suspect his rights, a prerequisite for bringing criminal charges against him in civilian court.
The president “seems to think that if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war,” former Vice President Dick Cheney charged.
Sensing vulnerability on both a practical and political level, the president summoned his attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., to the White House.
F.B.I. agents had questioned Mr. Abdulmutallab for 50 minutes and gained valuable intelligence before giving him the warning. They had relied on a 1984 case called New York v. Quarles, in which the Supreme Court ruled that statements made by a suspect in response to urgent public safety questions — the case involved the location of a gun — could be introduced into evidence even if the suspect had not been advised of the right to remain silent.
Mr. Obama, who Mr. Holder said misses the legal profession, got into a colloquy with the attorney general. How far, he asked, could Quarles be stretched? Mr. Holder felt that in terrorism cases, the court would allow indefinite questioning on a fairly broad range of subjects.
Satisfied with the edgy new interpretation, Mr. Obama gave his blessing, Mr. Holder recalled.