OMG! Laredo invaded!!

August 8, 2011

This time (1), by a Mexican Army helicopter that got a wee bit lost:

A Mexican military helicopter landed Saturday afternoon at Laredo International Airport by mistake, said a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Mucia Dovalina, the uniform public affairs officer for the Laredo Port of Entry, said the helicopter landed about 3 p.m., but she couldn’t share details such as the number of occupants or whether they were armed.

Dovalina said that, following protocol, CBP officers checked out the helicopter’s occupants, then allowed them to return to Mexico in the aircraft.

“The only thing that I can tell you is that they did land here,” she said. “It was by mistake. They were processed and they were returned to Mexico.”

As the article points out, this isn’t the first time the Mexican Army has crossed the border. This time the incident seems far less suspicious; the Mexican government was concluding armed operations against the Zetas cartel in a region near the poorly demarcated border, and these chuckleheads just lost their bearings. No harm, no foul, and so CBP sent them home.

Besides, they should know that the only proper way is to sneak across at night, like everyone else does.

Footnote:
(1) Referring to last summer’s near-panic on the on Internet on reading  rumors that ranches near Laredo had been taken over by the Zetas, rumors fed by  shoddy journalism and bloggers who should have known better.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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Political cartoon of the day: What media bias?

August 8, 2011

Michael Ramirez nails it:

(Click the image for a full-size view.)

via Big Journalism, which carries a related article on the transformation of American journalism into a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party.


Missed opportunities: tapping the Taliban’s lines before 9/11

August 8, 2011

Here’s a bombshell from late last week that was lost in all the brouhaha over the debt agreement and S&P’s downgrade of US debt. In the last years of the Clinton administration and the early months of Bush’s, we had a golden chance to tap Afghanistan’s cell-phone networks, probably including their communications with their al Qaeda guests, because we would have built it for them:

Vanity Fair contributing editor David Rose reveals for the first time that in 1999 the Taliban had granted license to an American company, Afghan Wireless Communications, to construct a cell-phone, and, Internet system in Afghanistan. Had the secret deal, named Operation Foxden, been completed, the U.S. would have had complete access to al-Qaeda and Taliban calls and e-mails in a matter of months. “The capability we would have had would have been very good,” a former N.S.A. official tells Rose. “Had this network been built with the technology that existed in 2000, it would have been a priceless intelligence asset.” But, as Rose reports, “at the critical moment, the Clinton administration put the project on hold, while rival U.S. agencies—the F.B.I., the N.S.A., and the C.I.A.—bickered over who should control it.” This “was one tool we could have put in Afghanistan that could have made a difference,” says a former C.I.A. official. “Why didn’t we put it in? 

Click through for the rather “colorful” answer.

The upshot is that a businessman who both had excellent relations with the Taliban and was an FBI source had secured a contract to build a wireless network for Afghanistan, and with the components added by US intelligence, we would have had unparalleled access to their cellular and satellite calls, with the operations run out of Fort Meade. Sweet, right? With this kind of access, we might well have leaned about 9/11 in time to stop it.

So what went wrong?

As the article makes clear, the program fell victim to both inter- and intra-agency bureaucratic chest-thumping, including an effort to squeeze out the British (Some British investors were involved, and they presumably had MI-6 backing.) because everyone was fighting over who would control it.

On top of that, the Clinton administration had issued an executive order prohibiting Americans from doing business in Afghanistan, a development that affected the FBI “asset” who had signed the contract. I find it mind-boggling that, as far as I can tell, Clinton a) apparently had no idea of a major intelligence operation against our avowed enemies and that b) no one went to him to argue or could convince him that a quiet exception needed to be made in this case.

Seriously. Did no one tell the President of the United States? 

This reminds me of the various bureaucratic frictions so amply documented in the 9/11 commission’s report, including the infamous Gorelick wall against intelligence sharing. Hidebound bureaucracy was one of our weakest links leading up to 9/11, and this news is another big example.

via Eli Lake

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)