Predictably Lame

|

Why. What. Do we have. Here? Someone from the con-blog echo chamber complaining about the reporting on Zarqawi's demise? What. A shock.

Posting at The Corner, Andy McCarthy frets that a New York Times account of the U.S. raid spills the beans that the U.S. got intel from a source close to Zarqawi. McCarthy also has harsh words for "people inside our intelligence community who don't know how to keep their mouths shut."

You see, in Andy's world, absent a NYT story, what's left of Zarqawi's group would not have a clue that someone very close gave them up. Without the story, these ruthless terrs would go on thinking that an F-16 just happened to plink two 500-pounders right on target. They would chalk it up to bad luck and move on.

No, in fact, U.S. forces likely burned that intel source the minute they went operational. That was the right call as the source was being developed precisely for this kind of purpose. McCarthy evidently represents the daft view, which can be found in some sectors of the national security state, that intel should be forever "developed" and that secrecy for secrecy's sake is always the best policy.

Further, it is very good that the terr network now knows someone inside gave them up. A paranoid and jumpy outfit is less effective. And presumably the U.S. immediately got the informer to safety and on the shelf once the decision to go was made—that is just common sense.

As for me, the stories that I find frustrating are the ones with references only to "laser-guided" bombs taking out the safe house. That is true in that a laser-guided GBU-12 was the first weapon the target, but the second to hit was a GPS-guided JDAM weapon. In effect, the first weapon punched a hole for the second.

But we shouldn't talk about that. The terrs might be listening.

NEXT: Radio Talk: Cheap or Valuable?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. This is what bothers me most about this whole thing, and what drove me away from my more conservatarian leanings, in large part: the assumption by so much of the right that terrorists are dumb as a pile of bricks. I mean, really, come on guys…if they were stupid we probably wouldn’t be having a long, epic struggle with them. Can’t have both, man.

  2. Don’t these people know that the World Cup is going on? :^)

  3. I feel so unpatriotic simply having read your post.

    I think I’ll poke my eyes out, lest I play a role in sinking our ship.

    P-Lip, soccer is for sissies. Patriots watch real football.

  4. Some people have no imagination. The source close to Zarqawi bit was intentionally spilled by the general in front of 1000 cameras. Whether it is true or not, they WANT AQ to think they have a leak at the highest levels.

  5. While I see the point of your post, McCarthy’s bio suggests he knows a thing or two about terrorists and terrorism investigation. I wouldn’t dismiss his views so lightly. His point is more about the US intelligence statements, not the NYT story. Without those leaks, the terrorists wouldn’t necessarily know that an insider had given him up. They might have suspected it- but it could also have been some Iraqi civilian who saw him drive by in a car towards that house, or any number of other scenarios.

    Andrew C. McCarthy
    Legal Commentator, Terrorism Expert

    Andrew C. McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor and a Contributor at National Review Online. From 1993 through 1996, while an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, he led the prosecution against the jihad organization of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, in which a dozen Islamic militants were convicted of conducting a war of urban terrorism against the United States that included the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks. Mr. McCarthy also made major contributions to the prosecutions of the bombers of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the Millennium plot attack Los Angeles International Airport.

    Following the September 11 attacks, Mr. McCarthy supervised the U.S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Command Post in New York City, coordinating investigative and preventive efforts with numerous federal and state law enforcement and intelligence agencies. From 1999 through 2003, he was the Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District’s satellite office, responsible for federal law enforcement in six counties north of New York City.

    Mr. McCarthy is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Justice Department’s highest honors: the Attorney General’s Exceptional Service Award (1996) and Distinguished Service Award (1988). He has served as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and as an Associate Independent Counsel in the investigation of a former cabinet official. He has also been an Adjunct Professor of Law both at the Fordham University School of Law and at New York Law School.

    He writes extensively on a variety of legal, social and political issues for National Review and Commentary, among other publications, as well as providing commentary for various television and radio broadcasts.

  6. Jason, good point. It has crossed my mind that this is just a ruse to get AQ to start killing its own, or at least be suspicious of its own, in order to ferret out the leaker.

  7. I’ll bet it was bin Laden who betrayed Zarqawi. Al Qaeda should hunt him down and make an example of him. Or just make a call to the U.S.

    Of course, that would leave Evil Bert in sole, uncontested charge of the terrorist network. . . .

  8. Heck, let them think it was several leakers so the paranoia really runs wild. Leak that “we know where OBL is but are waiting until closer to Election Day to corral him.” Then, maybe, he will move locations and reveal himself.

  9. “McCarthy evidently represents the daft view, which can be found in some sectors of the national security state, that intel should be forever “developed” and that secrecy for secrecy’s sake is always the best policy.”

    I disagree. I think McCarthy represents the view that absolutely everything is an opportunity to accuse the media of harming da troops as part of the standard right wing “working the ref” strategy.

  10. “The source close to Zarqawi bit was intentionally spilled by the general in front of 1000 cameras.”

    Now that you mention it, JL, I’ve seen it reported that the intel came from people in the neighborhood in which he was hiding. “Close to Zarqawi” – heh, that’s about as grey as it gets.

    BTW, if that is true, then everyone in Iraq just learned that you shouldn’t give up the location of terrorists, because the Americans will bomb your neighborhood.

  11. joe, the article doesn’t attack the media. It only criticizes the military/government’s release of the information to the media.

  12. Have you watched the video of the bombing, joe?

    It was a precision strike, taking out one building (in an agricultural surrounding, for what it’s worth).

    Your willfull ignorance knows no bounds, joe.

  13. Got a link to the video, CH? Is it as cool as this?

  14. And presumably the U.S. immediately got the informer to safety and on the shelf once the decision to go was made — that is just common sense.

    I was going to suggest a big parade and automatic US citizenship.

  15. Looks like some other Corner types disagree with McCarthy. I wouldn’t call it an echo chamber.

  16. I was just thinking–what if we catch bin Laden alive? I just can’t imagine the chaos that would be associated with that trial. Which is one reason they may just blow his ass up. I don’t see it being a problem in any kind of martyrdom sense–we either get that problem or not anyway we deal with him–but the circus would be unprecedented. It might launch a new cable network. Whoa. Of course, he’s totally toast, because he’s confessed about ten times, and I’m sure there’s plenty of other evidence to toss into the mix.

  17. Clean Hands,
    That video does not depict what I would call a “precision strike”. The blast and subsequent fires cover an area that could reasonably referred to as a neighborhood. It does appear that it was an agricultural region and indeed may have taken out only one house, as there were no neighboring houses.

  18. Precision, as in it looks to have gone down the chimney.

    As for the blast, it appeared to me that the four walls of the house blew out, probably spreading debris around a bit (ground-based pix I’ve seen seem to confirm this impression), but I don’t see any particular fire afterwards — looks like mostly dust rising from the crater.

    In any case, my point was that joe (as is his wont) was so eager to find a cloud in this silver lining that he made himself look like a fool.

  19. PL,
    We have tried most of the other AQ people we’ve caught. Why would you expect we’d try UBL?

  20. Clean Hands,

    Yes, I’ve seen the video. The bombs hit precisely on the building they were intended for, and proceed to destroy it and severely damage several surrounding buildings. Hence, the multiple civilian casualties, including the women and the young child.

    I guess moral and intellectual idiocy like your comment is what to expected when one looks at a place only through a bombsight. Perhaps you’d care to view some of the footage of the aftermath shot from people on the ground that’s all over the news? No, clearly you don’t.

  21. Lemme guess, Hands, your gut told you I had to be wrong, right?

    Once again, your gut is an idiot, but it’s clearly the most powerful reasoning organ you have available.

  22. No, you nimrod, I watched the fucking video which you clearly still haven’t done.

    “Don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind’s already made up.”

    Numbskull.

  23. Gotta keep up with the facts, joe. No children; three women. No word yet on whether or not they may have been combatants. Looking at the video, I saw only the one structure – if you have a link that supports your contention that there were casualties from other structures, lay it on me.

  24. I’d just like to observe that this very dangerous terrorist was caught using intelligence methods, or what some on this forum would call “the discredited law enforcement approach.” They knew that Zarqawi was a terrorist, so they tried to find a thread of evidence, and once they picked up a thread they patiently followed it until they had located him.

    This is very different from the indiscriminate approaches that some on this forum would favor.

    One of the favored approaches is what I call “drinking from the firehose”, i.e. tap every phone, then try to separate the wheat from the chaff. They justify this by arguing that figuring out which phone to tap would be, like, hard work.

    Another approach is what I would call “We don’t need no stinking facts”, i.e. detain a whole bunch of people who may or may not have anything to do with the problem you’re trying to solve, and then invent tortured legal explanations for why you can just hold them in a black hole forever. They justify this by arguing that this is a war, so that justifies anything that the state might do. They ignore the fact that we might learn something useful if we carefully examine the facts at hand to figure out who is involved in something dangerous and who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. They also ignore the fact that sometimes you figure out things better if you have to explain what you’re doing to an independent party.

    Anyway, this was a great victory for the US, and it’s interesting that this victory was apparently won by patient investigators who worked hard to figure out which information was actually useful, and then used that information to identify a specific target who was directly responsible for violence against innocent people.

    That’s the lesson that I’m taking from this.

  25. Very cool website blog–test post here. I like the no registration feature. As for the Z strike, not to be confused with Dr. Z of Egypt, I applaud this but wonder why for some reason the reward money never seems to be paid out by the US govt–either it’s “unclear” who was the informant and/or the informant was a govt employee not eligible for the reward. Not that it matters as for most people in that part of the world they wouldn’t know what to do with the money anyway I would imagine–anything above a million dollars doesn’t make sense anyway. Better to offer tangible goods as a reward, like a house, land or flock of sheep IMO. –RL

  26. You’ve watched one video, dipshit. The one we’ve all seen several hundred times in the past day on every news program. The aerial “bomb’s eye view.”

    And that’s clearly the only one you’ve seen, and the only one you’re interested in seeing. A pretty good metaphor for your knowledge of, and concern for, the reality in Iraq, if you ask me.

    And you clearly haven’t seen the military press briefing, either, in which the US Army Major states that a child of unknown age was found in the wreckage in the ruins of a nearby house.

  27. If the military is changing its story, and the reports they gave out of a child being killed were false, that would be good news. But I’m certainly not going to take Clean Hands’ word for it.

  28. Joe,
    Apparently the Military has revised it’s statement regarding the death of a child.

  29. How did you find out the GBU-12 was used before the 38?

  30. I can’t get the page to open, Kwix, but let’s hope that’s true.

  31. Gotta keep up with the facts, joe. No children; three women. No word yet on whether or not they may have been combatants. Looking at the video, I saw only the one structure – if you have a link that supports your contention that there were casualties from other structures, lay it on me.

    Why would Joe, of all people, concern himself with truth and honesty? He just hides behind his lies and makes snide remarks about libertarians.

  32. Apparently the Military has revised it’s statement regarding the death of a child.

    These are basically the same people telling us that Zarqawi is an active terrorist killing lots of non-combatants and non-mercenaries in the first place, right.

    Having some trust issues here.

  33. oh, yeah, and the Berg tape is a fake. In case you were thinking of believing your own eyes and ears on the Zarqawi question.

  34. oh, yeah, and the Berg tape is a fake.

    What tipped you off? the disclaimer “No Jews were harmed in the making of this film” disclaimer at the end?

  35. It is better to keep the terrs. guessing who did it. It is more disruptive to suspect every one.

    Ruins unit cohesion.

  36. Since America took over Iraq Inc. civilian deaths have been running about 10K a year. Saddam was offing 30K a year.

    As bad as things are, if they get no worse (and year to year they are getting better) the invasion is saving 20K a year.

  37. BTW the deaths I refer to are politics by other means.

  38. What tipped you off? the disclaimer “No Jews were harmed in the making of this film” disclaimer at the end?

    No, the part at the end where you can hear a guy speaking english with an american accent. That and the pudgy terrorists and the fact that the whole thing looks fake.

    I didn’t say that Nick Berg was unharmed, btw. I just said the tape was fake, in the sense of not being what it purports to be.

  39. I just wish the stupid idiots on cable news would stop talking about him. It’s been three days and they are still going on about it. Report he’s dead for 24 hours and them forget about him. We got him, he’s dead, we get it, move on.

    Does anyone else think it was weird they put his death picture in a nice wooden frame? What is Bush going to do put it up over the frieplace?

  40. Dave, just remember, back and to the left.

  41. I am guessing that whoever tipped off the whereabouts of Zarqawi doesn’t want his identity reveales. At least not while he/she is still in Iraq.

    Maybe he/she will go open a restaurant in the US like the guy who found Saddam.

  42. Dr T,
    I don’t think that anyone is arguing against the form of intel that brought this guy in, they may instead be arguing that other forms should be used in addition.

    I myself would be happy with the NSA nor anybody else being able to spy on you. I just think that it is retarded that the govt is allowed more tools to use against you if you are trafficing drugs or avoiding your taxes than they are allowed in fighting terrorism. So I think outrage is misplaced. If you are outraged about the NSA, but not about the IRS.

  43. “Saddam was offing 30K a year.”

    No, he was offing about 10K to 12K a year on average in domestic oppression. (300K divided by approximately 27 years in power [1976-2003]) And about two-thirds the overall figure were killed in the exceptionally violent 1988 to 1991 time period in the suppression pre-Gulf War Kurdish uprisings and the post-Gulf War Kurdish/Shi’a uprisings.

  44. And you’re not counting the million plus he slaughtered by attacking Iran to no effect. This put him in Guinness for the guy who killed the most Muslims.

  45. Berg’s father, Michael Berg, who is running as a Green Party candidate for Congress on an anti-war platform, has blamed George W. Bush for his son’s murder. Berg’s father has also stated that he mourns the recent death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, as he would the death of any man.

  46. As of 2003, the Saddam regime was wholly incapable of conducting the atrocities, such as the suppression of the Shia, the invasion of Iran, or the attacks on the Kurds, that contributed the large majority of the blood on his hands.

    Had we invaded Iraq for the purpose of regime change in 1984, or restarted the roll to Baghdad in 1992, M. Simon’s math would be a valid argument. As it is, it’s like pointing to the atrocities of the Great Cultural Revolution to justify an invasion of China today. Anyone care to average out the number of civilians murdered by the Chinese government over the past fifty years? Anyone care to argue, a la M. Simon, that such a figure would jusify an American invastion that would kill 10,000 Chinese civilians per annum for years on end?

  47. That is a silly comparison joe. China is not an enemy of Israel, so its completely different.

  48. Eh, I don’t buy the Israel angle for the Iraq war, and I said so at the time.

    The head of Shin Bet was quoted saying, “We might end up missing Saddam Hussein” because of the (what’s the right word? Likely? Entirely predictable? Bleeding obvious?) effects of the war on regional politics. And it’s not like Saddam was much of a threat to Israel in 2002.

  49. Apparently the Military has revised it’s statement regarding the death of a child.

    These are basically the same people telling us that Zarqawi is an active terrorist killing lots of non-combatants and non-mercenaries in the first place, right.

    Having some trust issues here.

    http://www.forbes.com/technology/feeds/ap/2006/06/10/ap2807104.html

  50. Eh, I don’t buy the Israel angle for the Iraq war, and I said so at the time.

    yeah, but we are trying to convince M. Simon here. we have to think a bit like M. Simon.

  51. Gotta keep up with the facts, Clean Hands. One child, female, between 5 and 7 years old. No word yet on whether or not she may have been a combatant.

  52. Beginning to look like the US soldiers may have been a bit overly vigorous in their CPR too.

  53. “Gotta keep up with the facts, Clean Hands. One child, female, between 5 and 7 years old. No word yet on whether or not she may have been a combatant.”

    So?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.