War on Terror

Somalia: Obama Opens Another Bloody Front in War on Terror

Why are we engaged in another war?

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Before dawn Saturday, U.S. Navy SEALs launched an amphibious assault on an al Shabaab facility in Somalia, turning away under heavier-than-expected fire.

The SEALs didn't get their man, a top commander of the Islamic terrorist group that carried out the horrific massacre at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, two weeks ago. But the aborted raid raises an important question: Are we now at war with al Shabaab?

It's not clear, and President Obama likes it that way. As legal justification for the raid, administration officials point to the post-Sept. 11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, empowering the president to go after those responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, atrocities and anyone who "harbored" them.

That could mean one of two things: one, that the target of the raid, an al Shabaab commander, alias "Ikrima," has "dual membership" in al Qaeda, in which case, targeting him was business as usual.

Or two, that the administration has designated the group itself — al Shabaab as a whole — one of al Qaeda's "associated forces," all members of which are thus wartime targets.

If it's the latter, the president has unilaterally opened "a major new front" in the war on terror. But good luck finding out. The Obama team keeps the list of the organizations we're at war with on a need-to-know basis — and you don't need to know.

"We have classified the list," a Pentagon spokesman told journalists this summer: "We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks."

The Washington Post reports that shortly after Obama's inauguration, the Obama team rebuffed a Defense Department proposal to target al Shabaab, "arguing that the group was focused primarily on domestic attacks."

True, as al Shabaab is a repugnant and evil bunch, formally allied with al Qaeda, but the group's focus thus far has been regional: the creation of an Islamic state in Somalia, and, as a group spokesman put it in 2010, "sending a message to every country who is willing to send troops to Somalia," like Uganda and Kenya.

After the mass murder at Westgate, however, "United States officials fear that the Shabab could attempt a similar attack on American soil, perhaps employing Somali-American recruits."

That's worth worrying about. So far, the few Somali-Americans who've aided al Shabaab have sent money or traveled to Somalia to fight. "The concern," says Rep. Peter King, R-New York, "would be if any of them have come back to the United States and would use those abilities here in the United States."

But would widening the war make that scenario less or more likely? Shouldn't we have a debate about this, perhaps in Congress?

In recent years, Obama has opened new fronts in the war on terror, constructing an archipelago of secret drone bases in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, while claiming to worry that "perpetual war" will "alter our country in troubling ways."

If any of these operations lead to "blowback" in the form of domestic terror attacks, that in itself will be taken as proof of the need for a more aggressive response abroad and new restrictions on liberties at home.

"The global war on terror has acquired a life of its own," says intelligence analyst Patrick Lang: "It's a self-licking ice cream cone."

"The September 2013 Terrorist Attack in Kenya," a new backgrounder from the Congressional Research Service, looks at U.S. policy in Somalia and comes up with as many questions as answers.

Among the questions: "What has been the legal justification for U.S. strikes in Somalia?" and "Does al Shabaab pose a direct threat to the United States?"

Good questions, but as usual, we're stuck trying to answer them with limited information, after the key decisions have already been made.

This article originally appeared in The Washington Examiner.

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  1. We’re at war with all of the als now. Al Jazeera, Al Gore, the AL, Al Sharpton, and Al Pacino.

      1. Who do you think is advising us to take out the other Als?

        Still working out whether Paul Simon has to go, too.

        1. still awaiting word from Betty.

        1. We have a truce with et al. and et cetera. Until they aren’t looking–then we pounce.

          1. Yes, that’s right, we’re now at war with the ets, too.

          2. let’s not forget the ongoing war of the ampersand.

            1. let’s not forget the ongoing war of the ampersand.

              Try and tell me that curvy symbol doesn’t have roots steeping in Arabic terrorism.

              And don’t think I’m not watching you too, Arabic numerals.

              1. It’s okay, they’ve been cleared as actually being Indian. That was a close one, as they were right dead center of the disposition matrix for a while.

            2. What about Eastasia? Are we at war with Eastasia?

      2. An interstellar war? Pauli Krugnuts approves.

  2. Why does the President want to invade the fine libertarian country of Somalia?

    1. So he can bring them ROADZ!

      1. You’re more clever than your grasp of English would indicate.

        You should search ‘nation building in Afghanistan.’ Road building was a major effort there and the Taleban took steps to stop it.

        1. You’re more clever than your grasp of English would indicate.

          And you are considerably less so than your condescension would indicate. “ROADZ!” is a humorous gag regarding the absurd caricature of a theoretical libertarian society. It’s frequently used when Somalia is offered as an example of said libertarian society. The jokes lose a lot of their humor when they have to be explained.

          1. I see nothing especially funny here, though I appreciate your explanation. Ask any statist, in Afghanistan or anywhere else, roads are a deadly serious business.

    2. Unless we all join Obamacare then system will not work and the Somalis were not signing up

    3. He’s finally taking action to clean up the mess libertarians have made over there.

  3. Are we now at war with al Shabaab?

    We have always been at war with al Shabaab.

  4. As legal justification for the raid, administration officials point to the post-Sept. 11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, empowering the president to go after those responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, atrocities and anyone who “harbored” them.

    Gene, try to keep up. The AUMF is just a bunch of words, and words have multiple interpretations. Ya see, when the AUMF says:

    (a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    It really means, the President can kill or torture anyone he wants.

    This has been the case ever since President Clinton, by presidential decree, arbitrarily changed the definition of “is”.

    1. I looked this up as well. It certainly seems, upon a straightforward reading, to limit the use of forces to those organizations and persons who planned, committed, or aided the 9/11 or those who ‘harbored’ them, and should not apply to those who might have afterwards allied themselves with the same.

      1. Of further note, all those verbs are past tense.

        But since words no longer have any meaning…

        1. “But since words no longer have any meaning…”

          Thanks for the excellent example of Libertarian chicken littleism. The problem is not that words have lost their meaning. The problem is that apparently nobody is willing to hold Obama to account. Neither is Obama willing to hold his predecessors to account for the crimes they committed.

          1. Hey, way to create a distinction without a difference. I feel so much smarter just for having read your inane shit. You are truly a god among men.

            1. But there is a difference. If I am not holding Obama to account for his crimes, then I am to blame. If words change their meaning, then I am not to blame.

            2. But there is a difference. If I am not holding Obama to account for his crimes, then I am to blame. If words change their meaning, then I am not to blame. I see a big difference here.

      2. “The President is authorized to use . . . force against those . . . HE DETERMINES, etc., etc.”

        Determinations have been made, and those determinations have concluded that al Shabaab is subject to the AUMF.

        The determinations themselves are classified, as we would not want other enemy groups availing themselves of the determination criteria in order to evade US action.

    2. They have basically changed it from “those who harbored [them]” to “those who harbor their ideas”.

      The administration would probably also argue that what we are doing in Somalia, or Yemen, or Pakistan, or anywhere else other than Afghanistan or Iraq is a “war”. Unless of course it would be politically advantageous to do so.

    3. That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons… in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

      Kneel before the power of ellipses. KNEEL!

      1. Should be:

        “Kneel before the power…of ellipses.”

      2. I like ellipses…


  5. Yeah, nit-picking I know but, how can this be a strictly accurate statement if someone is writing about them:

    “constructing an archipelago of SECRET drone bases in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.”

    1. Cause you don’t know exactly where they are?

  6. my roomate’s mother-in-law makes $62 hourly on the internet. She has been fired for 8 months but last month her income was $19895 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read Full Article================

    http://www.Works23.Com

    1. “elfieareeda”, eh?

      Sounds like an al Shabaab operative ….

    2. Two things.

      First, if she is making $62 per hour, that means that last month she worked 382.5 hours. That’s an average of 12 hours per day, every single day. That’s more than “a few hours”.

      Second, why is your roommate living with you instead of his wife?

      I don’t think I’m buying your story, “elfieareeda”–if that’s your real name.

  7. “Does al Shabaab pose a direct threat to the United States?”

    I don’t know.

    Does China pose a direct threat to the United States? Does Canada?

  8. U.S. Navy SEALs launched an amphibious assault on an al Shabaab facility in Somalia, turning away under heavier-than-expected fire.

    (emphasis added.

    WTF?

    Either there was very bad intelligence or BHO decided that the operation could only proceed if there was zero chance of a trooper coming back in a body bag.

    1. There’s nothing new about this. All democracies concern themselves over taking casualties. Casualties are potential voters, after all.

      For example, in the fighting in northern France between the democratic allies and the non democratic Nazis after d day, the allies took fewer casualties, and, as a result of the effort to keep casualties to a minimum, the allies, surprisingly to me at least, killed more French civilians than the Nazis did.

      Another example, the last dust up between democratic Israel and non democratic Hezbollah. Israel took fewer casualties than Hezbollah, Israeli soldiers typically kill more Israeli soldiers than their enemies do, but Israel also managed to rack up more deaths among Lebanese civilians than Hezbollah with Jewish civilians.

  9. al Shabaab…

    … are we also at war with shish kabob?

  10. When the AUMF was authorized on a vote of 420-1, the lone 1 was Representative Barbara Lee (D-Oakland and Berkeley, CA). She based that “no” vote on the fear that it granted too many open-ended powers to the President (and predicted abuses that would occur). She and her family received death threats for her stand by cowards looking for blood vengeance but she has never backed away from that “no” vote and has consistently supported efforts to repeal the resolution.

    Whatever else you may think of Rep. Lee (or the crazies she represents), we should commend her for being the ONLY elected representative who believed we should not provide the Executive this much power.

  11. What abilities? How hard is to to shoot up a mall?

  12. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to home tab for Register

    ???????? http://ddp.net/g7m

  13. my friend’s mother-in-law makes $88/hr on the laptop. She has been fired from work for ten months but last month her payment was $15328 just working on the laptop for a few hours. official website
    =========================

    http://www.works23.com

    =========================

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