Obama: The Age of the War on Al-Qaeda

I give the text of President Obama’s speech on security below, along with video.

Unlike the two speeches Obama gave in the immediate aftermath of the attempted underpants bombing, in this one the president was focused and decisive. As amazing as it seems, it appears that the Obama team had just never sat down and planned out what their response would be to another al-Qaeda bombing in the US. Obama is a quick study and has gotten a handle on the right tone and approach, but his team should have been better prepared and coordinated to begin with.

The speech, and the plans it put forward, have many virtues. The president firmly rejected the fear-mongering of the Bush-Cheney era. Joe Biden is not in a bunker somewhere, peaceful demonstrators are not being harassed, and the president set a tone of confidence in American values and the Constitution (the Murdochian Right forgets that the Bill of Rights is in the constitution).

Obama also attempted to stop the stampede to have someone on his cabinet or in intelligence fired by pointing out, Harry Truman-like, that the buck stops with the president. It was a manly thing to do, especially since he had nothing to do with creating the unwieldy bureaucracy of US intelligence and security (there are 16 intelligence agencies, and the organizational chart for Homeland Security is the nightmare of an unemployed CEO). Our last president couldn’t think of any mistakes he had made.

He identified the intelligence failures that led to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab being allowed to board NW 253 as failures of synthesis and integration of known intelligence. The Lagos CIA station knew that Abdulmutallab’s family feared he had gone off the deep end in Yemen. A source inside al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula reported rumors of a terrorism operation involving a Nigerian in Yemen. Those two reports never got melded. The State Department did not know he had a multiple entry visa to the US because someone had slightly misspelled the name in the database and that did not get corrected till later. In any case, the visa would not have been pulled because he was not classified as a terrorist, only as a potential terrorist.

Me, I’d have some sort of security procedure for the potential terrorists before letting them board. Anyway, no one was in charge of integrating all this information. That lapse is what Obama wants to change, reasonably enough. John Brennan insists that the problem here was not possessiveness about information and cases, as with CIA/ FBI/ INS lack of cooperation on the 9/11 hijackers. It wasn’t that the various units did not want to share, but that there was no obvious person or unit that was responsible for gathering these threads together (a sort of data mining).

It isn’t just an issue within the US security bureaucracy. Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, says better data sharing between NATO and Pakistan will be key to defeating the Taliban.

I have some suggestions on the name issue. All names in USG terrorist databases should be entered three times, once as the person habitually spells it, once in scientific transliteration, and once in the original script. If Wikipedia can often manage this, so should the State Department and the CIA be able to. Second, Google-style fuzzy searching should be permitted so that near matches show up. Someone was complaining in the comments that government computers are old, have old clunky software, and don’t talk well with one another across departments. So? Spend some money to fix that. It would be a rounding error in the Pentagon budget, and the resulting improvement would add more to our safety than buying more bombs would.

Two ironies must be noted here. One is that the goverment ever since Bush has been snooping into all our emails and many of our phone calls, and none of that snooping appears to have ever been useful in forestalling terrorism. But here they had the information just handed to them from cooperative sources in Nigeria and Yemen, and they did not know what to do with it.

The other is that the Bush-era mania for security over rights produced a bloated list of potentially dangerous people, of half a million or so, which proved too unwieldy to do anything serious with, and which has a lot of innocent peace workers or annoying journalists on it. Paring it down to people who actually look dangerous would be a good first step.

Obama most unfortunately has allowed the right wing to maneuver him in to reviving the use of the word ‘war,’ and he is now talking about a ‘war on al-Qaeda.’ It is not a war, and cannot be fought like a war, and the word is just as misleading now as it was in the Bush-Cheney era. It is a counter-terrorism struggle. Highlighting al-Qaeda, moreover, gives Bin Laden what he always wanted, to parlay a few thousand cranks with weapons training into the central preoccupation of a superpower. Why not say, for our democracy to flourish, we must do good counter-terrorism? Wars imply a Pentagon role, and military action alone is more likely to provoke terrorism than to end it. In fact, if Bush had not invaded Iraq, al-Qaeda might well have died off by now.

Obama again talked about winning hearts and minds for the US in the Muslim world. But as the case of the Palestinian/Jordanian double agent, Humam al-Balawi, who detonated a suicide bomb at Forward Operating Base Campbell in Afghanistan showed, as long as the US backs Israeli encroachments on Palestinian land and Israeli attacks on and sieges of Palestinians, winning hearts and minds is complicated and in many cases impossible. The American right wing keeps repeating the stupid mantra that extremists and militants are ‘evil’ or ‘hate us for who we are.’ Maybe some are obsessed like that. But most do cite specific policies that enrage them, like the invasion of Iraq or the gradual ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Vigilante violence is always wrong, and their grievances give them no warrant to harm innocents (which is evil). But if winning hearts and minds is the issue, then US policy in the Middle East is an impediment. The large US footprint Obama is creating in Afghanistan has the potential to be another such obstacle.

A viable Palestinian state, a US withdrawal from Iraq, and an end to the Afghanistan war would do more to drain the swamp of al-Qaeda collectively than all the intelligence reviews and reorganizations in the world.

C-Span has video of the president’s speech.

And here is the text, h/t The Globe and Mail

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon everybody.

The immediate reviews that I ordered after the failed Christmas terrorist attack are now complete. I was just briefed on the findings and recommendations for reform. And I believe it’s important that the American people understand the new steps that we’re taking to prevent attacks and keep our country safe.

This afternoon my counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, John Brennan, will discuss his review into our terrorist watchlist system; how our government failed to connect the dots in a way that would have prevented a known terrorist from boarding a plane for America; and the steps we’re going to take to prevent that from happening again.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will discuss her review of aviation screening, technology and procedures; how that terrorist boarded a plane with explosives that could have killed nearly 300 innocent people; and how we’ll strengthen aviation security going forward.

So today, I want to just briefly summarize their conclusions and the steps that I’ve ordered to address them. In our ever-changing world, America’s first line of defense is timely, accurate intelligence that is shared, integrated, analyzed and acted upon quickly and effectively. That’s what the intelligence reforms after the 9/11 attacks largely achieved. That’s what our intelligence community does every day. But unfortunately, that’s not what happened in the lead-up to Christmas Day.

It’s now clear that shortcomings occurred in three broad and compounding ways. First, although our intelligence community had learned a great deal about the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen called al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — that we knew that they sought to strike the United States, and that they were recruiting operatives to do so — the intelligence community did not aggressively follow up on and prioritize particular streams of intelligence related to a possible attack against the homeland.
Cont’d (click below or on “comments”)

Second, this contributed to a larger failure of analysis — a failure to connect the dots of intelligence that existed across our intelligence community, and which together could have revealed that Abdulmutallab was planning an attack.

Third, this in turn fed into shortcomings in the watch-listing system which resulted in this person not being placed on the no-fly list; thereby allowing him to board that plane in Amsterdam for Detroit.

In sum, the U.S. government had the information scattered throughout the system to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had.

And that’s why we took swift action in the immediate days following Christmas, including reviewing and updating the terrorist watch-list system and adding more individuals to the no-fly list, and directing our embassies and consulates to include current visa information in their warnings of individuals with terrorist or suspected terrorist ties.

Today, I’m directing a series of additional corrective steps across multiple agencies. Broadly speaking, they fall into four areas.

First, I’m directing that our intelligence community immediately begin assigning specific responsibility for investigating all leads on high-priority threats so that these leads are pursued and acted upon aggressively, not just most of the time but all of the time. We must follow the leads that we get, and we must pursue them until plots are disrupted. And that means assigning clear lines of responsibility.

Second, I’m directing that intelligence reports, especially those involving potential threats to the United States, be distributed more rapidly and more widely. We can’t sit on information that could protect the American people.

Third, I’m directing that we strengthen the analytical process, how our analysis — how — how our analysts process and integrate the intelligence that they receive. My director of National Intelligence, Denny Blair, will take the lead in improving our day-to-day efforts. My Intelligence Advisory Board will examine the longer-term challenge of sifting through vast universes of — of intelligence and data in our information age.

And finally, I’m ordering an immediate effort to strengthen the criteria used to add individuals to our terrorist watch lists, especially the no-fly list. We must do better in keeping dangerous people off airplanes while still facilitating air travel.

Taken together, these reforms will improve the intelligence community’s ability to collect, share, integrate, analyze, and act on intelligence swiftly and effectively. In short, they will help our intelligence community do its job even better and protect American lives.

But even the best intelligence can’t identify in advance every individual who would do us harm. So we need the security at our airports, ports and borders — and through our partnerships with other nations — to prevent terrorists from entering America. At the Amsterdam airport, Abdulmutallab was subject to — to the same screening as other passengers. He was required to show his documents, including a valid U.S. visa. His carry-on bag was x-rayed. He passed through a metal detector. But a metal detector can’t detect the kind of explosives that were sewn into his clothes.

As Secretary Napolitano will explain, the screening technologies that might have detected these explosives are in use at the Amsterdam Airport, but not at the specific checkpoints that he passed through. Indeed most airports in the world and in the United States do not yet have these technologies.

Now, there’s no silver bullet to securing the thousands of flights, into America each day, domestic and international. It will require significant investments in many areas. And that’s why even before the Christmas attack, we increased investments in homeland security and aviation security.

This includes an additional $1 billion in new systems and technologies that we need to protect our airports — more baggage screening, more passenger screening and more advanced explosive detection capabilities, including those that can improve our ability to detect the kind of explosive used on Christmas. These are major investments. And they’ll make our skies safer and more secure.

Now, as I announced this week, we’ve taken a whole range of steps to improve aviation screening and security since Christmas, including new rules for how we handle visas within the government and enhanced screening, for passengers flying from or through certain countries.

And today, I’m directing that the Department of Homeland Security take additional steps, including strengthening our international partnerships, to improve aviation screening security around the world, greater use of the advanced explosive detection technologies that we already have, including imaging technology, and working aggressively in cooperation with the Department of Energy and our national labs, to develop and deploy the next generation of screening technologies.

Now, there is of course no foolproof solution. As we develop new screening technologies and procedures, our adversaries will seek new ways to evade them, as was shown by the Christmas attack.

In the never-ending race to protect our country, we have to stay one step ahead of a nimble adversary. That’s what these steps are designed to do. And we will continue to work with Congress to ensure that our intelligence, homeland security and law enforcement communities have the resources they need, to keep the American people safe.

I ordered these two immediate reviews, so that we could take immediate action to secure our country. But in the weeks and months ahead, we will continue a sustained and intensive effort, of analysis and assessment, that we leave no stone unturned in seeking better ways to protect the American people.

I have repeatedly made it clear — in public, with the American people, and in private, with my national security team — that I will hold my staff, our agencies and the people in them accountable when they fail to perform their responsibilities at the highest levels.

Now this stage in the review process — it appears that this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization, but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies. That’s why, in addition to the corrective efforts that I’ve ordered, I’ve directed agency heads to establish internal accountability reviews and directed my national security staff to monitor their efforts. We will measure progress, and John Brennan will report back to me within 30 days and on a regular basis after that. All of these agencies and their leaders are responsible for implementing these reforms, and all will be held accountable if they don’t.

Moreover, I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer, for ultimately, the buck stops with me. As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people, and when the system fails, it is my responsibility.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting our country against a foe that is bent on our destruction. And while passions and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let’s be clear about what this moment demands. We are at war. We are at war against al Qaeda, a far- reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them.

And we’ve made progress. Al Qaeda’s leadership is hunkered down. We have worked closely with partners, including Yemen, to inflict major blows against al Qaeda leaders, and we have disrupted plots at home and abroad, and saved American lives.

And we know that the vast majority of Muslims reject al Qaeda. But it is clear that al Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations, not just in the Middle East but in Africa and other places, to do their bidding.

That’s why I’ve directed my national security team to develop a strategy that addresses the unique challenges posed by lone recruits. And that’s why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death, including the murder of fellow Muslims, while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress.

To advance that progress, we’ve sought new beginnings with Muslim communities around the world, one in which we engage on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect, and work together to fulfill the aspirations that all people share — to get an education, to work with dignity, to live in peace and security. That’s what America believes in. That’s the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists.

Here at home, we will strengthen our defenses. But we will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans, because great and proud nations don’t hunker down and hide behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. That is exactly what our adversaries want, and so long as I am president, we will never hand them that victory. We will define the character of our country, not some band of small men intent on killing innocent men, women and children.

And in this cause, every one of us — every American, every elected official — can do our part. Instead of giving in to cynicism and division, let’s move forward with the confidence and optimism and unity that defines us as a people. For now is not a time for partisanship; it’s a time for citizenship — a time to come together and work together with the seriousness of purpose that our national security demands.

That’s what it means to be strong in the face of violent extremism. That’s how we will prevail in this fight. And that’s how we will protect our country and pass it, safer and stronger, to the next generation.

Thanks very much.

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Responses | Print |

13 Responses

  1. on the 'structured' databases of the government: it would indeed as professor Cole suggested be a lot more intuitive to use a search engine, 'google' like. it would also be practical to implement: all clients could be thin clients (simple pc's)nationwide, the 'safe'protocols to interact with redundant servers on redundant locations are not to be invented. the hardware cost would be close to nil, the software on the clients, the 'pc's' of all government employees additional software would be nil, they all have a browser already. the search engine software on the servers is in the public domain. wat makes google complex and huge hardware wise is implementing the search engine combined with profitability purposes thus additional complexity and the volume of data and users.

    in short: no billion to be spent, there must be sufficient it administrators and luxury, e few developers within the employee database of us government. lesser costs at the benefit of efficiency, a win win straight from management 'books' from the eighties. to the us the only realistic, practical timely (with a good team, less then 6 months)way to multiply efficiency of intelligence gathering and analysis.


  2. The problem with software (which isn't just the feds, it all states and localities, all infrastructure management, etc) is that the government tends to make sweetheart deals with software developers. This produces subpar software from subpar developers, and the government tends to be too slow to keep up to date on software advances.

    Couple this with the fact that it is a software dev's market – software devs purposely create a buggy product so they can charge thousands per year to support workarounds – and the government has no chance of catching individuals utilizing sophisticated (or unsophisticated) technology.

  3. Great analysis. We have a "struggle" not a war going on with Al Qaeda. Do you suppose that they would call that a jihad?

  4. Full Rebut @ link to iviewit.tv
    Well Excuse Me but did I hear the word WAR, a definable legal concept with rules and regulations engraved in law? There are NO WARS currently LEGALLY waged according to US Laws and therefore WAR POWERS and WAR FUNDS appear used ILLEGALLY by CONGRESS, the EXECUTIVE and the COURTS. A President can declare a war in an Emergency but then at the next convening of Congress, the Congress must OFFICIALLY DECLARE LEGAL WAR on the enemy. Remember it has to be a real Enemy, usually one with country, airforce, nukes, etc. not a WAR on a WORD – TERROR – that is a war tactic. At the next meeting of Congress if Congress does not DECLARE LEGAL OFFICIAL WAR NO WAR FUNDS OR WAR POWERS CAN BE USED legally forward. Sure you can call it an insurgency or occupation or covert action, usually illegally but different rules apply to these, but those powers are limited and the funds usually secret, etc…

    To violate the LAWS OF WAGING WAR, is to COMMIT TROOPS ILLEGALLY and steal WAR FUNDS illegally and KILL SOLDIERS ILLEGALLY and TORTURE PEOPLE ILLEGALLY and WAG WAR ILLEGALLY! No small abrogation of LAW, major crimes falling under the absolute definition of TREASON and SEDITION, we can hang ya for these crimes. Eventually, when this coup on country by our leaders is defeated, these WAR CRIMINALS WILL ALL BE TRIED TOO, including all those TWO FACED LYING POLITICIANS who voted to give WAR POWERS and FUNDS ILLEGALLY, sacrifice the LIVES OF SOLDIERS in false WARS, sacrifice the LIVES of the VICTIMS of our WAR CRIMES against their countries and STOLE the FUNDS to finance these CRIMES ILLEGALLY. Good riddance to all in Congress Repub or Dem who aided and abetted the ILLEGAL WARS GRANTING ILLEGAL WAR POWERS that have led to WAR CRIMES.

    As our leader parade around, scaring you about WAR from TERRORISTS, to hide their crimes through fear mongering and misnomers like WAR and PATRIOT ACT, they all commit war crimes, except the few lone wolves in Congress who voted against the WAR CRIMES, say Kucinich, Paul, Gravel, and ??? What are we the PEOPLE to DO when the GOVERNMENT is committing CRIMES in our, the PEOPLES names? We the People are then compelled by the Constitution to bear arms and form militias to beat them out of office, if voting them out does not work due to voter fraud. Hijacking the vote already occurred like when the country went to Hell in a Bucket, when the Supreme Idiots voted the biggest loser President Bush into power by a 5-4 vote. At that moment in history we witnessed and did not PROTEST the usurping of our Democracy and they picked a DECIDER who was a DECIDEDLY EVIL GUY AND A WAR CRIMINAL. With this SUPREME TREASON to usurp the People Vote, went the very word Democracy and to fix the country we will need to reboot the country to that point and remove any one that Bush appointed, as his crown was gained illegally by voter FRAUD committed by the Supreme Court Justice, the 5 that appointed him. Prescott Bush should be proud of his grandson, Prescott’s companies seized for trading with the ENEMY HITLER in WORLD WAR II, leading to the death of many US Soldiers, his grandson followed well in his footsteps.
    Eliot I. Bernstein

  5. Thank you so much for insisting on "struggle" instead of "war." Words matter, and shape how people think about a problem. Bush used to insist that we should not expect these conflicts to look like a war, then confuse the matter by calling it war. There is nothing gentle or soft hearted or naieve about the term "struggle." It is simply broad enough to include combat plus all other means, instead of implying that every other means that could be usefu should stand back while we go bomb stuff.
    Your suggestion that the listing of names in intelligence and travel databases be at least as good as Google's is a nugget of gold.

  6. Three cheers for your suggestions on how exotic names should be entered into security databases. From your lips to the government's ear.

  7. – (Obama) is now talking about a 'war on al-Qaeda.' It is not a war… ' –

    I respectfully disagree. It is the most insane and DAFT war, a war to prevent future terrorism.

    Congress passed Public Law 107-40, which declared war against enemies to be named later (by the President).
    Bush named al-Qaeda, and said that the Taliban would be treated the same way.
    Obama added al-Qaeda 'affiliates' to the list.

    – It is a counter-terrorism struggle. –
    To counter terrorism is to defend against it, to prevent future acts of terrorism. The US military's goal has been set as 'preventing future terrorism' – and nobody can explain how that can be achieved, which is why there's never any 'exit strategy'.

    Every country deals with future terrorism but only America declared war against it.
    That's DAFT (Defense against Future Terrorism)[aka GWOT, aka WOT, aka 'The Long War']

    This is the insanity that America is stuck in.
    I suggest that we repeal this flaw of a law, as America repealed Prohibition when it obviously failed.
    At the very least, can we mention this Public Law in public?

    'America, the land where they review football plays but not declarations of war'

  8. ref : “Obama [is] reviving the use of the word 'war,' and he is now talking about a 'war on al-Qaeda.' It is not a war, and cannot be fought like a war, and the word is just as misleading now as it was in the Bush-Cheney era … Wars imply a Pentagon role, and military action alone is more likely to provoke terrorism than to end it. bravo, professor Cole ~ I do not think we could over emphasize this point. Most Americans still refuse to use the word "occupation," too ~ e.g., they call it "The WAR in Iraq," or "The WAR in Afghanistan" : note the implicit passive tense, and lack of possession (whose war?) or object (War in Afghanistan… against whom?, Afghans? someone or some thing else in Afghanistan?) Not only as if 'Afghanistan' contains something alien (other than US), but also as if "War" exists existentially = from out of nowhere, attached to nothing; without beginning = genesis causality or ending = destiny, resolution by victory, etc. Juan also mentions that War implies a Pentagon rôle which, imho is damn important (lost in history writ is that the initial U.S. response (against al Qadea in Afghanistan, then mostly governed by Taliban rulers) to the 9/11 attack was led by Tenet and the C.I.A., which was sandbagged by Rumsfeld & Cheney until the whole show was put under their domain, the D.O.D.)

    Further, i would submit that (the word, and all that it implies) "Security" has become the raison d'être of "Government" [see BBC video by Adam Curtis, The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear] in the minds of many Americans (not just conservative ideologues). e.g., many Americans nowadays say things like "The foremost responsibility of Government is (security) to protect The People." fwiw, In reality, this is a most modern re-interpretation of what had always been: "The foremost responsibility of The People is (security) to protect their Government = Democracy."

  9. The claim from the White House that the CIA and NCTC should have connected the dots — and then pinning this as an intelligence community failure, is, well, ludicrous. Only two elements of the CT community in the government knew about his father's concern – CIA and NCTC. If you want the community to connect dots, provide the community with the dots. John Brennan is a great American but he's dead wrong about this being a community failure – the failure is in only allowing two elements of the government to read CIA station traffic – we are paying for way too many CT analysts who don't get to see the traffic CIA and NCTC see. The result? FAILURE.

  10. CIA bomber's wife says war must go on against US

    The Turkish wife of a Jordanian doctor who killed seven CIA employees in a suicide attack in Afghanistan says her husband was outraged over the treatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison and the US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Defne Bayrak, the wife of bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, said that his hatred of the US had motivated her husband to sacrifice his life in what he regarded as a holy war against the US.

    Wife says CIA bomber hated the US

    "He had so much hatred for the United States that he could not have been an agent for the CIA," she said. "He might have used Americans and Jordan for his own interest, which he did."

  11. Al-Balawi "started to change," says his wife, after the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003

    By 2004, she says, he began to talk to her about his strong belief in the need for violent jihad against Western occupiers of Muslim lands, but he was not part of any organization or group. "He followed all of them, but from a distance," she says.

    Then a year ago, the Israelis launched their devastating assault on Hamas and its infrastructure in Gaza after repeated random rocket attacks on Israeli towns. Al-Balawi signed up with a group of doctors who wanted to offer aid to the besieged Palestinians, more than 1,000 of whom were killed in the offensive.

  12. Context. It would be interesting to know how many "hot" threads the intelligence community had on its books on Dec 25. How many suspicious clumps of connected dots were they working on? How many false alarms and dead ends? I read recently that the NSA, collects the equivalent of four times the total information contained in the Library of Congress – ON A DAILY BASIS.

    No matter how perfect and complete the data base is, it still has to be searched in some way. And at some point, say in the case of Mr Abdulmutallab, the analyst has to find out real time information, such as where is he now, what is he doing, and with whom? That information came to light after the fact as a result of very intensive high priority intelligence and diplomatic work, and from the perpetrator's confession.

    According to our Government we have been killing, arresting, and renditioning al Qaeda members steadily since 9/11. We're told the organization is on the ropes. Yet we are also told that volume of intelligence gathered is steadily increasing. Does al Qaeda have a dot factory in operation (wouldn't be hard to do in the digital age)? Or from a conspiratorial point of view, do we have our own dot factory to slake the thirst of the intelligence community, and get them better computers and satellites.

    Obama is asking for perfection: fantastic intelligence gathers, super smart analysts, know everything/yield everything data bases, and, last but not least, everyone sitting in everyone elses lap (don't try to visualize). Perfection may not be obtained, but look for a few billion more in the next intelligence budget.

  13. Obama most unfortunately has allowed the right wing to maneuver him in to reviving the use of the word 'war,' and he is now talking about a 'war on al-Qaeda.' It is not a war, and cannot be fought like a war, and the word is just as misleading now as it was in the Bush-Cheney era.

    — Juan Cole

    I so agree, but this President is waging all sorts of wars. What are Pakistan and Afghanistan?

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