1) US Intelligence Community does not actually “know” where Iran is on nuclear, where Yemen is on Al Qaeda, where the Taliban is on Afghanistan….the list is long.
2) CIA and DoJ ares out of control on assessments and investigations–or they are consistently politicized. One or the other, which is it?
3) Terrorism is still the crutch for those unable or unwilling to comprehend Grand Strategy and a more mature appreciation for all of the threats, all of the policies, all of the information, all of the time. The USA remains government by uninformed sound-bite.
4) India matters, so we are told, as a recipient of expensive U.S. war-fighting technology and as a partner against terrorism. Never mind the deeply shared problem of poverty in America and India, a problem quickly addressable by the redirection of a fraction of the Pentagon budget toward “peaceful preventive measures.”
EDITORIAL: Panther politics (Washington Times)
Herewith, then, is an all-inclusive guide to the scandal of the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case, based largely on documents unearthed by The Washington Times, along with other original reporting – and why it is important:
FBI broke law for years in phone record searches (Washington Post)
The FBI illegally collected more than 2,000 U.S. telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or simply persuading phone companies to provide records, according to internal bureau memos and interviews. FBI officials issued approvals after the fact to justify their actions.
Terrorists will strike America again (Greg Treverton in Los Angeles Times)
The Christmas Day episode highlights three critical points. First is how much progress U.S. intelligence has made. . . . Second, the Christmas Day plot demonstrates that much of what passes for security is a waste of time and money. . . . Third, the public furor over the foiled plot shows that more perspective on terrorism is essential.
Review Says Iran Never Halted Nuke Work In 2003 (Washington Times)
Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican and ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview that “they wrote a political document in 2007 to embarrass President Bush which everyone uniformly agrees was a piece of trash.”
The al Qaeda statement couldn’t be independently verified.
NIGHTWATCH on Afghanistan (John McCreary)
NIGHTWATCH Afghanistan: Multiple news services reported today’s bold Afghan Taliban attacks in Kabul. The coordinated multiple attacks killed at least 15 and injured 62, as reported in this Watch
Four militants also were killed, including two suicide bombers who detonated their explosives, and Afghan forces were searching several other areas in the city for more attackers, a government spokesman said.
It was the biggest attack in the capital since 28 October when gunmen with automatic weapons and suicide vests stormed a guest house used by U.N. staff, killing at least 11 people including three U.N. staff.
The attack coincided with the investiture of those Cabinet members in the Karzai government who had been confirmed by the Parliament. A majority of his choices have been rejected twice.
Below the Fold Complete NIGHTWATCH on Afghanistan
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press that 20 armed militants, including some with suicide vests, had entered Kabul to target the presidential palace and other government buildings in the center of the capital.
The Taleban spokesman, Zabihollah Mojahed, called today’s ongoing attacks in Kabul a message for foreign forces and the Afghan government. He told the Afghan Islamic Press, “Today’s attacks are a strong message from the Taliban to foreign forces and the government. We showed them that the Taliban cannot be purchased or crushed by increasing the number of foreign forces.”
NIGHTWATCH Comment: Today’s action in the context of the statement represents the clearest Taliban response to the plans for a surge in US troops and for Afghan government outreach to Taliban commanders. The Haqqani syndicate has been responsible for the most effective attacks in Kabul during the past few years.
The Haqqani organization obviously has penetrated government and Coalition security and has inside help moving men and vehicles to targets. More importantly, the Haqqanis understand that the end game requires the capture of Kabul.
Internal instability is always centripetal, unless it leads to fragmentation. The direction of combat always must point to the centers of authority, in the district, the province and the nation, unless the aim of combat is to fragment the state. The Pashtun Taliban want to govern Afghanistan, not to form a secessionist Pashtun state.
Attacks of this kind discredit the government and its allies by showing they cannot protect themselves, much less the people of Afghanistan. It is a false thesis, but it resonates with shopkeepers, investors and residents because of the random nature of the violence. The government did not fall and the Haqqanis lost 20 suicide bombers who achieved little more than past less strenuous exertions.
In other words, the Haqqanis understand the end game. They are trying to collapse the non-military props of the regime. They cannot beat the NATO forces in combat, but they can erode home front support by embarrassing them. They may be expected to continue to try to assassinate Karzai or someone of comparable stature, such as the US ambassador or a NATO general.