9 years, 5 months ago
The mastermind behind the USS Cole bombing has either been released by authorities in Yemen, or is soon to be released.
The United States is dismayed over what officials said was Yemen’s failure to cooperate in the war against Al Qaida.
The Bush administration expressed disappointment with Yemen’s decision to release the man regarded as the mastermind of the Al Qaida attack on the USS Cole in Aden in 2000.
“The United States is dismayed and deeply disappointed in the government of Yemen’s decision not to imprison [Al] Badawi,” National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. “This action is inconsistent with a deepening of our bilateral counterterrorism cooperation.”
Officials said Sanaa has largely failed to respond to a significant U.S. investment in Yemen’s military and security forces. They pointed to about $100 million in U.S. military and security assistance since 2004, which included the formation of Yemen’s coast guard.
“We have communicated our displeasure to Yemeni officials and will work with the Yemeni government to ensure Al Badawi is held accountable for his past terrorist actions,” Johndroe said on Oct. 26.
In 2004, Al Badawi was convicted of plotting and conducting the bombing of the USS Cole. A Yemeni court condemned Al Badawi to death, but the sentence was reduced to 15 years in prison.
Still, officials said, Yemen has failed to keep Al Badawi and other Al Qaida operatives behind bars. He escaped prison twice since 2004, allegedly with help of Yemeni jailers. The FBI has offered $5 million for information that would lead to his arrest.
Officials said the release of Jamal Al Badawi violated a pledge to capture and prosecute those behind the suicide attack in which 17 American sailors were killed. In mid-October, Al Badawi surrendered to Yemeni authorities in an arrangement that allowed him to return home to Aden. Al Badawi, officials said, pledged loyalty to the regime of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
On Sunday, Yemen asserted that Al Badawi was still in detention. But the Yemeni Interior Ministry would not elaborate.
It is a truism that the best developed plans will come to naught at times when the predicate for the plans is the honor of other men and nations. The U.S. must negotiate and purchase and obtain agreement and all of the things that the State Department works at, but in the end, we must be prepared to be alone in the pursuit of our own national security interests.
But when other countries fail us, what is the recourse? The Small Wars Journal Blog is currently hopping with interesting debate about the moral viability of torture – or lack thereof – and while this debate is salient for future detainees, we face a situation in which a major terrorist is about to be released into the global population with the knowledge and consent of the host country.
So will there be a well-aimed sniper round targeted at Badawi, or a neatly devised car bomb set to detonate at exactly the right time? Will U.S. black operations be his undoing, or will he live to perpetrate yet another disaster on U.S. troops somewhere else in the world? Mind you, this isn’t a low level actor; this is a major player in the world of jihadist terror.
The answer is a bit involved. Even if Badawi was on the physical field of battle, there is question as to whether the rules of engagement allow the targeting of even a known enemy if said enemy is not currently brandishing a weapon and currently a threat to U.S. forces. But this situation is even more murky and complex, and this complexity explains the consternation of U.S. diplomats at the release of Badawi.
Some background. First in U.S. jurisprudence there is the constitution. Its liberties and strictures guides the making of laws. Second comes law, and of course this requires the approval of the Senate and House of Representatives, along with the approval of the President unless there is an override of a veto. Next comes regulations. This is where is becomes murky, because the executive branch takes the laws that have been passed by the Congress and interprets them and adds to the law in order to make something actually able to be enforced, i.e., regulations. At this level, challenge can be brought in court, and negotiations pursued with the proper authorities regarding code compliance.
This process is ugly and tedious, much like making saugage. It involves thousands of lawyers, federal register notices, comments, incorporation of comments, and ultimately the approval of yet more lawyers resulting in revisions to the federal code. It probably gives far too much power to the executive branch of the government, but given the dysfunction of the legislative branch of the government, it is understandable. When one branch abdicates its responsibilities, the others swarm into the gap.
Next comes an even murkier and lower level regulation, the so-called “executive order.” Effective March 1, 1976, President Ford issued the following executive order: “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.” And there is the crux of the issue, and in large part the reason for the panic at the State Department.
No sitting President wants to be the one who reverses this order, and yet no sitting President wants to be responsible for allowing a high level terrorist back into the global population to cause further harm to U.S. forces and assets around the world. But this executive order is in serious need of revisiting and revision, unless of course, the U.S. is just fine with releasing Jamal al-Badawi to perpetrate his wares.