Chuck de Caro’s War: Part 2
January 27, 2010
January 7, Barack Obama appeared before the cameras for the fourth time since
December 25, trying to explain how his administration had so thoroughly bungled
events leading up to the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over
Detroit on Christmas Day.
Confronted with a terrorist act by a young Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,
the Obama Administration mumbled, fumbled, misconstrued and misrepresented.
It’s not as if
the Nigerian suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He first came to the attention of
British MI5 while a student at University College London. During that period he
had repeated contacts with radical Islamists who were themselves the subjects of
wiretaps, email intercepts, and other forms of surveillance. As a result, his
British entry visa was revoked and he was under surveillance by British
intelligence for several years prior to December 25, 2009.
four months ago the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted "chatter” among
al Qaeda leaders in Yemen in which they discussed using a "Nigerian” in a
planned terrorist attack against the U.S. The intercepts were translated and
disseminated to all of the appropriate intelligence services, including the CIA
and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), months before Abdulmutallab
boarded Flight 253 in Amsterdam.
November, Abdulmutallab’s father’s visited the U.S. embassy in Lagos, informing
our State Department and the CIA that his son had been radicalized by Muslim
fanatics and that he feared his son would commit an act of terror. As a result,
Abdulmutallab’s name was added to the NCTC’S Terrorist Identities Datamart
Environment (TIDE) list...a list containing the names of some 550,000
individuals...but no one in the U.S. intelligence community was able to connect
the necessary dots.
As the Times
of London editorialized, "One would have thought that a warning about
Abdulmutallab's possible involvement with terrorists, by his own
father no less, a former top official in a government friendly to
Washington, numerous NSA intercepts, a CIA dossier and MI5 reports would have
raised at least one red flag!”
But that’s not
what happened. Abdulmutallab paid $2,800 in cash (red flag) for a one-way ticket
(red flag), boarded planes in Lagos and Amsterdam with no checked baggage (red
flag), and traveled to Detroit under a 2-year entry visa that should have been
cancelled the moment his name appeared on a terrorist watch list (red flag). As
the London Examiner described it, "In the suspect's case, there were so
many red flags flying you’d have thought the Red Army was parading through
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport!”
As news of the
foiled bombing spread around the globe, Obama and his team sprang into action.
Obama took time out from a round of golf in Hawaii to make a phone call to his
national security advisors: Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security
Secretary Janet Napolitano, Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan, Director of
Central Intelligence Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence Dennis
Blair, and NCTC Director Michael E. Leiter...who also was upset to be
interrupted in the midst of a round of golf.
before the TV cameras in a hastily-called press conference to announce
that "the system worked.” It was the most inane statement
by a public official since Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) described his colleague,
Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), a former Grand Kleagle of the KKK, as a man who
would have been
"a great senator at any moment” in our nation’s history.
However, when asked
by CNN's Candy Crowley how that could be possible when Abdulmutallab was able to
smuggle an explosive compound onto the aircraft, Napolitano responded, "We're
asking the same questions.” She went on to say that there was no suggestion that
Abdulmutallab was "improperly screened.”
was left to Obama himself to prove how totally clueless he and his top aides
really are. Waiting a full 72 hours to publicly comment on what was only the
most recent terrorist attack of his time in the Oval Office, Obama described
Abdulmutallab as an "isolated extremist” and the event itself as an "attempted
terrorist attack” in which a passenger "allegedly” tried to ignite
an explosive device aboard an aircraft.
Chicagoan, Al Capone, once said, "You can go a long way with a smile. You can go
a lot farther with a smile and a gun.” In prosecuting the War on Terror, it
appears to be the one lesson that Obama has learned. It is the basis for his
approach to al Qaeda but it doesn’t go nearly far enough, as evidenced by his
fourth public clarification on Thursday, January 7.
In announcing a
series of four steps his administration would be taking to prevent any similar
attacks from occurring, he said, "In our ever-changing world, America’s first
line of defense is timely, accurate, intelligence that is shared,
integrated, analyzed, and acted upon swiftly and effectively.” He said not a
word about going on the offensive against al Qaeda. Unlike James Monroe,
Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush, Obama appears incapable of
drawing a line in the sand...of saying "this far, and no farther!” Obama appears
wedded to the concept of winning by playing only defense, hoping he can score
enough points to win victory. It doesn’t work that way on the football field and
it certainly doesn’t work that way in war.
nature of our enemy, it becomes immediately evident that the United States, even
with all of our NATO allies and the Israelis behind us, cannot win a war of
attrition against the forces of radical Islam. We cannot win a war in which they
kill 3,000 of our people, we take a year to kill 30,000 of their people, they
kill another 3,000 of us, we take a year or two to kill another 30,000 of them,
etc., etc., etc. The Muslim Umma now numbers somewhere near 1.6 billion people
and they have a birth rate that far exceeds that of any Western nation.
So we cannot win
a war of attrition against Islam, nor is it even remotely
the United States would ever consider a war of annihilation, using unremitting
nuclear carpet bombing as an alternative...but we MUST win this war. So how do
we approach the problem?
In a recent
column, titled "Chuck de Caros’s War,” we discussed the benefits of Information
Warfare (SOFTWAR), the subject matter of de Caro’s lectures at the National
Defense University, the National Defense Intelligence College, the Naval Post
Graduate School, the Air War College, the Army Command and General Staff School,
and many other Department of Defense institutions.
as "the hostile use of global television to shape another society’s will by
changing its view of reality.” But is it possible that Obama, inexperienced and
naïve as he is, has the ability to comprehend what it might take to defeat al
Qaeda by "changing its view of reality?” And if he is capable of understanding
the concept, is he willing and able to undertake the effort?
As de Caro points
out in his lectures, "Simply killing or capturing radical Islamic terrorists as
a way of winning a globally distributed guerilla war is much like the inept
mechanic who reacts to an engine warning light by cutting the wires to the
light. The problem still exists and it's in the ENGINE! The engine in the case
under consideration here is the widely dispersed al Qaeda body politic which is
hiding like a cancer in the vastly larger Umma, which, in turn, is composed of
all the believers of Islam.
"Thus while there
are those among us who would happily don a ski mask and shoulder an MP-5SD3
(silenced submachine gun) to do some serious counter-terrorism, what is
really needed is a major program of
to stem the flow of new al Qaeda recruits from the Umma. To do that
we will need a huge, well funded and coordinated campaign of strategic
communications, public diplomacy, and information warfare in all its forms.”
"Right now,” says
de Caro, "the United States has five major organizations doing information
projection around the globe: the State Department, the Department of Defense,
the White House, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and the CIA. But all are
grossly under-funded for an operation of the kind needed to confront al Qaeda,
and they are grossly undermanned, having few, if any, experts who know how to
create a global television and/or Internet campaign over a generation or two.
Worst of all, there is no coherent strategy or leadership. Period!”
Given the poor
quality and the inexperience of Obama’s closest advisors, is there one among
them who understands that going on the offensive against al Qaeda involves,
first of all, putting limits on its size and growth? Or that, in order to
undertake such a critical offensive, we must become more adept at the use of
tools such as global television, motion pictures, and the Internet than are the
leaders of al Qaeda and the Islamist jihad?
The goal of
radical Islam, led by al Qaeda, is a worldwide Caliphate in which every
non-Muslim will have three choices: 1) Convert to Islam, 2) Refuse to convert
but pay tribute, or 3) Be killed. Breaking that trilogy of horrors will require
a lot of effort.
As de Caro
explains, "Once you understand that a monothesistic Islamic world is al Qaeda’s
ultimate goal, the first thing to attack is their basic strategy for achieving
that goal. That strategy is a hybrid product of warfare and marketing which uses
high explosives in the same way that Hollywood uses publicity stunts and
"Thus, al Qaeda
uses kinetic weapons (heat, blast, and fragmentation) to create information. And
once an event has been created, they use the most powerful inventions of the
information age, instantaneous global television and the Internet, to justify
their righteousness to the Umma, to recruit new jihadists, and to spread fear
and terror throughout the non-Muslim world. The great irony is that we created
global television and the Internet and that our enemy, al Qaeda, now uses it
effectively against us.
As de Caro
explains, "Our military uses all manner of information to support the accuracy
and effectiveness of its weapons. Al Qaeda, on the other hand, uses its
comparatively crude weapons...suicide bombers, IED’s, etc...to create the
information necessary to propel its ideals. Unless the five aforementioned
agencies of government grasp this fundamental truth, we cannot win. We may not
lose, but we will spend hundreds of billions of dollars and we will not emerge
as a clear victor.”
"The fact that
Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the suicide bomber who murdered the CIA and
Blackwater personnel in Khost, had a well-lighted, well-scripted, and
ready-to-distribute video in the can
he set off his bomb, demonstrates the al Qaeda strategy.”
George W. Bush
understood the gravity of the situation, but one wonders whether Obama has the
intellect to share that understanding. He is given credit for having surrounded
himself with a great many bright people. However, it is doubtful that Obama
himself, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, and all thirty-five or
forty White House czars, taken together, could formulate a single cogent
proposal for a SOFTWAR campaign against al Qaeda.
During World War
II, FDR had his Bill Donovan, and Donovan had radio and television pioneer David
Sarnoff and movie producers Frank Capra, and John Ford. So the question arises,
does Obama have a modern day Bill Donovan at his disposal, and does he
understand the problem well enough to assemble a team capable of exploiting the
unique capabilities of television and the Internet as the principal weapons in a
global SOFTWAR offensive? Time is running short.