New Docs Reveal Osama bin Laden's Secret Ties With Iran
This week, prosecutors in New York introduced eight documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan as evidence in the trial of a terrorism suspect. The U.S. government accuses Abid Naseer of taking part in al Qaeda’s scheme to attack targets in Europe and New York City. And prosecutors say the documents are essential for understanding the scope of al Qaeda’s plotting.
More than 1 million documents and files were captured by the Navy Seals who raided bin Laden’s safe house in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011. One year later, in May 2012, the Obama administration released just 17 of them.
While there is some overlap between the files introduced as evidence in Brooklyn and those that were previously made public in 2012, much of what is in the trial exhibits had never been made public before.
The files do not support the view, promoted by some in the Obama administration, that bin Laden was in “comfortable retirement,” “sidelined,” or “a lion in winter” in the months leading up to his death. On the contrary, bin Laden is asked to give his order on a host of issues, ranging from the handling of money to the movement of terrorist operatives.
Some of the key revelations in the newly-released bin Laden files relate to al Qaeda’s dealings with Iran and presence in Afghanistan.
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Stephen F. Hayes
Barack Obama wants us all to simmer down about Iran. He wants Senator Bob Menendez, a fellow Democrat, and the donors he represents to butt out of the sanctions debate. He wants Republicans to quit crying wolf about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He wants the media to stop hyping terror threats. He wants the American people in the dark about the secret correspondence he’s had for years with Iran’s supreme leader. He wants John Boehner to be mindful of protocol. And most of all, he wants Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop questioning his accommodationist approach to Tehran.
With the breezy confidence that is his trademark, the president has repeatedly delivered a reassuring message on Iran to the country and the world: Trust me.
With respect, Mr. President: No.
From the earliest moments of his first term, Obama sought to convince the country that threats from our erstwhile enemies were overblown. He forged an approach to jihadist attacks and rogue regimes meant to be a stark contrast from that of his predecessor. He ended the war on terror, quietly sought rapprochement with radical Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban, and ostentatiously undertook a more conciliatory approach to terror-sponsoring regimes like Syria and Iran.
Notwithstanding periodic drone strikes on bad guys, Obama has demonstrated repeatedly that his instinct is to ignore, dismiss, or downplay threats to the United States and its interests and allies. The record over six years is a long list of mistaken judgments, awkward euphemisms, and false assurances.
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And you probably read this months ago, but
Al Qaeda Wasn’t ‘on the Run’
Why haven’t we seen the documents retrieved in the bin Laden raid?
The initial scrub took several weeks. It was never meant to be comprehensive. “It was more data-mining than analysis,” says one intelligence official with knowledge of the project. Researchers and analysts searched the documents for key names, phone numbers, and addresses that could be used by U.S. troops to target senior al Qaeda leaders. In subsequent congressional testimony, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, reported that there were “over 400 intelligence reports that were issued in the initial aftermath immediately after the raid.”
Then the document exploitation stopped. According to sources with detailed knowledge of the handling of the documents, the CIA did little to build on the project after the initial burst of intelligence reports.
Officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency and CENTCOM responsible for providing analysis to U.S. troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan wanted to study the documents. But the CIA had “executive authority” over the collection and blocked any outside access to them.
The ensuing bureaucratic fight, reminiscent of the intragovernment battles that led to the reorganization of the intelligence community after 9/11, unfolded over the spring and fall of 2011. It was resolved, at least temporarily, when then-CIA director David Petraeus weighed in on behalf of the team from CENTCOM and the DIA, a move that did little to improve his standing with the CIA bureaucracy. Petraeus was angry when he learned that the CIA hadn’t been actively exploiting the documents, and as the former head of CENTCOM, he was sympathetic to the pleas from military intelligence. The dispute made its way to Clapper, who met with representatives of the warring agencies and agreed that DIA and CENTCOM should be allowed to study the documents.
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