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Take Note, Tea Party: Government Workers Got Osama bin Laden

To  the anti-union governors, the Tea Partyers, the whiner down the street who is  convinced that everyone in the public sector enjoys a high salary and benefits  for doing a cushy job, let us consider the government worker whose effort we  have witnessed in the past week.

Let’s start with all the career  intelligence staffers—and this includes those who worked under the Bush  administration—who have been looking for clues for a decade to chase down and  capture or kill Osama bin Laden. These include people who may have had small  successes that led to last week’s big success. Or they may have had enormous  successes we don’t even know about: Who can say how many major terrorist  attacks our teams at the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the White House, and the Pentagon have averted through good intelligence work? They can’t  say. It would endanger their work. And when people complain about what they do—or don’t do—they just have to suck it up and keep quiet, lest they tip off  terrorists.

There are some pretty high-level  government workers to thank—President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary  Clinton. First, kudos to Obama for offering Clinton the job at State after a  bruising and testy primary fight. Kudos to Clinton, as well, for accepting it.  Being in government service, at any level, means setting aside personal gripes  for the sake of the public. They both did that. And if Clinton had a problem  with the United States going into Pakistan to get bin Laden—an idea she questioned during the primary  campaign—she surely got over it, and presumably was deeply involved in the  diplomatic gymnastics required before and after the raid.

And how about the Navy SEALs, who  are, after all, government workers as well? They conducted a brilliant surgical  strike on the most wanted man in the world, and we will likely never know their  names, never be able to approach them on the street just to say thanks. They’re  used to that; they are, I imagine, OK with that. Service isn’t about personal  aggrandizement or fame. It’s about doing your job, sometimes anonymously.

And underneath these teams are the  support staff who helped the intelligence workers and high-ranking officials  and military people do their jobs. They, too, helped make this mission happen.

To the antigovernment forces who  repeatedly ask the (hopefully) rhetorical question, “What good is government?  Name me one government program that has worked.” Of course, we can start with  roads and bridges, public libraries, Social Security, public education, and a  raft of other items. But for those who can’t even see the value in those public  works, we have the teams that worked for a decade, over two administrations, to  get bin Laden. This is what your government does, and it was carried out by  government workers. They deserve thanks—not derision.

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and Worl Report, May 9, 2011

May 9, 2011 Posted by | Big Government, Conservatives, Democracy, Foreign Policy, GOP, Ground Zero, Homeland Security, Ideologues, Ideology, Middle East, National Security, Neo-Cons, Pentagon, Politics, President Obama, Public Employees, Republicans, Tea Party, Terrorism, Union Busting, Unions | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s First New War: The New Paradigm For Middle East Conflicts

As a fleet of French airplanes lacerated a column of Libyan army vehicles near Benghazi on Saturday, President Obama stuck to his prearranged schedule in Brazil, receiving whispered updates from his aides. Within three hours, more than 100 cruise missiles had hit two dozen targets in Libya. That’s just “the first phase,” William Gortney, the director of the Joint Staff, told reporters.

What he didn’t say: It’s the first phase of what will become Barack Obama’s first new war. By directing the military to hit targets inside Libya, the Obama administration is trying to strike an incredibly delicate balance between a strong disinclination to invade a Muslim country and their determined desire to avoid looking like they’re walking away from the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents.

When Muammar el-Qaddafi first struck back against protesters, Obama hoped that tough sanctions and material support to the opposition would be enough to force the dictator from power. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned him that a “no fly zone” would be ineffective and essentially commit the country to war. By Monday night, it was clear to Obama that this policy wasn’t working. Countries like Iran were getting the wrong message. The Libyan military was selectively testing the patience of the world by striking opposition strongholds. The opposition was pinned down in the port city of Benghazi, swelled by tens of thousands of refugees. Qaddafi kept using a phrase that stuck in Obama’s head: “no mercy.” And France, smarting from seeming to abandon Egyptians during their time of trouble, along with the U.K., were champing at the bit to use force. The Arab League had kicked Libya out and was closer to the French position. It risked its own legitimacy, already questioned by many in the region, if it didn’t side with the rebels.

On Tuesday, during a meeting of his national security team, Obama said he wanted a new policy. “Clearly, what we’re doing is not enough,” he said, according to contemporaneous notes kept by a participant. A “humanitarian disaster” was imminent unless something was done. He wanted more options.

Gates wanted to game out scenarios, knowing that any effective no-fly zone would necessitate a cascade of other military actions that would look a heck of a lot like an invasion, no matter how carefully it was done.

Thomas Donilon, the national security adviser and one of the gatekeepers of Obama’s foreign policy, was worried about the strategic implications of both allowing Qaddafi to succeed in retaking control of Benghazi as well as what would happen down the road in other countries if a successful military response ousted him from power with a minimum of bloodshed. Even the lightest military footprint would result in civilian casualties, he warned. Almost as inevitable would be the death of a coalition soldier or the downing of an airplane.

Hillary Rodham Clinton said instability in Libya threatened to clip the democratic aspirations of its two neighbors, Egypt and Tunisia. She was also worried about the message to Iran if the U.S. and its allies did nothing in Libya: America was so afraid of committing its military to protect Muslims and Arabs that it would allow virtually anything to happen.

The meeting broke up.

Donilon would take charge of a rapid-fire series of conference calls and meetings and would, by that night, bring to the president three new policy proposals, each of which would call for a mix of diplomatic, military and intelligence actions against Libya. Obama had dinner with his combat commanders, and solicited their input about what challenges the military would face. At 9 p.m. that night, he reconvened only his principals. (Clinton was represented by her deputy, James Steinberg.) Donilon laid out his proposals. After about an hour, the Situation Room had come to a rough consensus: a no fly zone wouldn’t work, but more words would not work either. Obama instructed his U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, to inform the Security Council that France’s resolution, which called for a no fly zone and little else, was insufficient. He asked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, to turn into him by the next evening a Concept of Operation Plan, or CONPLAN, for a NATO-executed military campaign in Libya that would be assisted by Arab countries.

In closed session at the U.N., Rice laid out the U.S. position. The situation was urgent and dire. But the world had to know precisely what it would mean to keep Libyan troops from murdering their own citizens. Any resolution would have to include language authorizing strikes against Libyan military infrastructure on the ground to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. “We are not going to hide pooch,” Rice said in the meeting, according to a U.S. official. “We must be completely clear about what we are going to do and why.” And Arab countries must participate, she insisted, in some visible way, in the campaign. She proposed a number of amendments that added significant heft to the resolution.

For the next 24 hours, Clinton and Rice tag-teamed Arab countries and members of the Security Council. They argued that if nothing was done, despots and beleaguered leaders everywhere would vow never to repeat the “mistake” of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who yielded power without foreign military intervention. Iran, in particular, would find itself with an incentive to continue to spread its proxy forces to other countries and further repress its own citizens. And Rice has made the reinvigoration of the United Nations one of her prime goals as ambassador. The legitimacy of that body was at stake too, she argued.

On Wednesday, at about 6:30 p.m., Mullen and Donilon presented Obama with their CONPLAN for Libya. Its contents are mostly classified; an official said the air strikes on Saturday were one part of a larger campaign that includes a variety of overt and covert actions. Published reports suggest that U.K. special operations forces were secreted in the country, scouting out the battlefield in preparation for air strikes. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command moved several tactical air teams to a small base on Crete. In order to try and disguise their movements, the U.S. planes changed their call signs once they entered airspace over the Mediterranean, but commercial software that tracks their transponders revealed the shift, and word leaked out on Twitter. These teams would coordinate the air assault but are capable of parachuting into a region and directing them from the ground.

On Friday, the U.S. moved a Rivet Joint signals intelligence plane to Souda Air Base on a Greek Island, bearing the provocative call sign of “SNOOP 55.” Subs capable of launching Tomahawk missiles idled near Italy. The USS Florida, armed with more than 100 Tomahawks, moved into firing range. Twenty four hours after the U.S. introduced its amendments, it got its resolution, 10-0. Obama spoke with his counterparts in France and the UK and agreed that they’d give Qadaffi 24 hours to turn heel and retreat. If he didn’t, France would begin the bombardment.

It was important to the U.S. that Libyans and the world understand that this coalition of the willing was more than a U.S. rhetorical construct. An hour before bombing began Saturday, Clinton spoke to the press in Paris. Asked why military action was in America’s interest, she gave three reasons and implied a fourth. A destabilizing force would jeopardize progress in Tunisia and Egypt; a humanitarian disaster was imminent unless prevented; Qaddafi could not flout international law without consequences. The fourth: there’s a line now, and one that others countries had better not cross.

The development of a new doctrine in the Middle East is taking form, and it could become a paradigm for how the international community deals with unrest across the region from now on. The new elements include the direct participation of the Arab world, the visible participation of U.S. allies, as well as a very specific set of military targets designed to forestall needless human suffering. Though the Libyan situation is quite unique – its military is nowhere near as strong as Iran’s is, for one thing – Obama hopes that a short, surgical, non-US-led campaign with no ground troops will satisfy Americans skeptical about military intervention and will not arouse the suspicions of Arabs and Muslims that the U.S. is attempting to influence indigenously growing democracies.

By: Marc Ambinder, Contributing Editor, The Atlantic, March 20, 2011

March 20, 2011 Posted by | Democracy, Dictators, Foreign Policy, Libya, No Fly Zones, Obama, Qaddafi, United Nations, War | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Right’s Criticism of Obama On Japan And The Budget Ring Hollow

President Obama’s not acting as a leader. That’s what the right will tell you. On Saturday, the president talked about women’s history month and the need for women to receive the same on the dollar as a man. (Note to self: we obviously haven’t come a long way baby, Gloria Steinem better keep that bra handy to be burned again). And then, the president had the audacity to go golfing! And select his picks for the NCAA tournament! The shame of it!

Those on the right will argue that the president is not leading this nation, nor his Congress because he didn’t speak on the budget, hasn’t presented himself before Congress on the budget and didn’t address Japan or Libya in his Saturday radio address. And of course, how dare he take a day off during all of this that is going on in the world! 

 What they won’t tell you is how that radio address is usually prerecorded, often days before. What they won’t tell you is how the president met with Democratic leaders in the Senate regarding the budget last week. What they won’t tell you is that just 24 hours before this radio address, the president spoke of Japan and of Libya. What they won’t tell you is how the United States has sent money, resources, and our Navy, arguably the best in the world, to assist Japan at this time. What they won’t tell you is how the president has a leader in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is discussing along with our allies internationally, the U.N. and NATO our next steps in Libya; which even a Republican Senator, Richard Lugar, stated we must approach very cautiously or we end up in a longterm military problem in Libya, which we clearly can’t afford being involved in two wars already.

What does the right want from this man? If the president had spoken about Japan on Saturday as well as Friday would that have stopped their nuclear power plants from having four explosions, two fires, and leaking radiation at 400 times the level a human should be exposed to it? Would he have stopped the 140,000 people in a 20 mile radius who were told to stay home, work, please don’t go outside? Maybe if he had spoken about Japan a few weeks ago he could have single handedly stopped the earthquake and tsunami, right!?!! And of course, speaking about Libya, he could stop the madman at the helm, their leader, their dictator!?!

Nah, he can’t do that. He’s just the president folks; although with the enormous responsibilities the right lay upon his shoulders you’d think he was God; who I am told, took the seventh day off. The question is, did he go golfing?

By: Leslie Marshall, U.S. News and World Report, March 16, 2011

March 17, 2011 Posted by | Democrats, Disasters, Economy, GOP, Ideologues, Japan, Libya, Nuclear Power Plants, Obama, Politics, Qaddafi, Republicans, Right Wing, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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