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Thank you New York Times
-- CFP creation
Operation Cannonball:

New York Times again exposes “highly classified Pentagon order”

By —— Bio and Archives--June 30, 2008

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As of 12:45 EST this morning, Drudge was still advertising a developing story posted hours earlier: “Sources: Bush anger at coming New York Times Story detailing hunt for Bin Laden…The newspaper is planning to expose a “highly classified Pentagon order” authorizing Special Operations forces to hunt al-Qaida leader in mountains of Pakistan. ‘Operation Cannonball’.

Operation Cannonball was the code name given to the Al Qaeda hunt in Pakistan by the C.I.A. in 2006.

The Drudge Report red flag was not lost on those close to the US military, including Move America Forward’s Melanie Morgan.

“What in God’s name is going on here,” wrote the pro-troop Morgan.  “The Slimes is going to expose a top secret information in order to enhance their declining readership?

  “This is why red-state America loathes the NYTimes.  Can anyone possibly conceive of this happening during World War II?

  At 10:02 posted the Operation Cannonball story on the Internet.

  The story, headlined “Amid Policy Disputes, Qaeda Grows in Pakistan”, was written by Mark Mazzetti and David Rohde.

  “Late last year, top Bush administration officials decided to take a step they had long resisted,” the Times wrote.  “They drafted a secret plan to make it easier for the Pentagon’s Special Operations forces to launch missions into the snow-capped mountains of Pakistan to capture or kill top leaders of Al Qaeda.

  “Intelligence reports for more than a year had been streaming in about Osama bin Laden’s terrorism network rebuilding in the Pakistani tribal areas, a problem that had been exacerbated by years of missteps in Washington and the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, sharp policy disagreements, and turf battles between American counterterrorism agencies.

  “The new plan, outlined in a highly classified Pentagon order (emphasis CFP’s) was intended to eliminate some of those battles.  And it was meant to pave a smoother path into the tribal areas for American commandos, who for years have bristled at what they see as Washington’s risk-averse attitude toward Special Operations missions inside Pakistan.  They also argue that catching Mr. bin Laden will come only by capturing some of his senior lieutenants alive.”

  According to the NYTimes, “But more than six months later, the Special Operations forces are still waiting for the green light.

  “The plan has been held up in Washington by the very disagreements it was meant to eliminate.  A Senior Defence Department official (emphasis CFP’s) said there was “mounting frustration in the Pentagon at the continued delay.”

  The story, some 8 pages long, quotes some 18 times unnamed officials as sources.

  Naming sources is Journalism 101.

  Indeed the first source identified, Richard L. Armitage, deputy secretary of state from 2001 to 2005, comes in paragraph 17 of the story with a four-word quote, “We’re just kind of drifting” in reference to U.S. control of the tribal areas.

  In their story, the NYTimes claims that “Just as it had on the day before 9/11, Al Qaeda now has a band of terror camps from which to plan and train for attacks against Western targets, including the United States.  Officials say the new camps are smaller than the ones the group used prior to 2001.  However, despite dozens of American missile strikes in Pakistan since 2002, one retired C.I.A. officer estimated that the makeshift training compounds now have as many as 2,000 local and foreign militants, up from several hundred three years ago.”

  The story ridicules the C.I.A. ascribing clashes between the agency’s outposts in Kabul, Afghanistan and Islamabad.  “There were also battles between field officers and the counterterrorism center at C.I.A. headquarters, whose preference for carrying out raids remotely, via Predator missile strikes, was derided by officers in the Islamabad station as the work of “boys with toys”.”

  Later on in the story when talking about the increasing attacks by militants in the tribal areas, the newspaper noted, “Along with the Afghan government, the C.I.A. officers in Afghanistan expressed alarm at what they saw as a growing threat from the tribal areas.  But the C.I.A. officers in Pakistan played down the problem, to the extent that some colleagues in Kabul said their colleagues in Islamabad were “drinking the Kool-Aid, as one former officer put it by accepting Pakistani assurances that no one could control the tribal areas.”

  In closing paragraphs of the story, the NYTimes quotes Seth Jones, a Pentagon consultant and a terrorism expert at the Rand Corporation: “The United States faces a threat from Al Qaeda today that is comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001.”

  And with the tell-all NYTimes “exposing highly classified Pentagon orders”, it’s small wonder.

Judi McLeod -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh,, Drudge Report,

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