USS Cole: An Act of War : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

USS Cole: An Act of War By John Lehman Sunday, October 15, 2000; Page B07

From media reports it appears that the skipper of USS Cole did all in his power to protect his ship and crew, and his leadership apparently saved lives. President Clinton described the attack on Cole as an act of cowardice and of terrorism. It was of course neither. It was a well-planned act of war by obviously brave and disciplined warriors almost certainly supported by one or other enemy states who view America and Israel as mortal enemies. The truth is inconvenient to the "peace process," and will be put in the memory hole, just as it was after Syria killed 241 American Marines in Beirut. We will instead blame it on Osama bin Laden or some mythical person. Other than President Clinton's traditional lobbing of a few cruise missiles, we can be certain that there will be no retaliation.

Another inconvenient fact sure to be stuffed down the memory hole is the obscene failure of intelligence. Obviously our vast centralized intelligence bureaucracy did not warn the skipper of Cole of the severe danger. But of course, no one could be surprised by intelligence failure. In 14 years of government service in three administrations I observed many historic crises, and in every one the consolidated product of the intelligence bureaucracy either failed to provide warning, as in Kuwait, or was grossly wrong in its assessment, as in the Yom Kippur War. Every national security adviser and every tactical commander from Elliott Abrams to Norman Schwartzkopf has deplored this scandal, but nothing is ever done. Cole is the latest victim of a $30 billion jobs program that takes the most wondrous products of space and electronic technology and turns them into useless mush.

If Cole had been warned, the ship would have avoided this notorious port. If for some reason and armed with warning, they were needed in harm's way tried-and-true measures can be taken to protect stationary ships. We kept many ships off Beirut for years without a successful attack, although there were several attempts.

But why was this single ship sent to Aden at the height of an anti-American crisis, in a nation notorious for harboring terrorists sponsored by Iraq and other rogue states? As Nimitz famously signaled to Halsey, "The world wonders."

While state departments in every administration want to treat naval ships like so many cost-free chess men, in recent years the profligate willy-nilly deployments have been running all of the services into tatters. During the Reagan years of Cold War activism, the Navy was deployed to crisis areas beyond ordinary deployments an average of 5 1/2 times per year, which fully stretched a Navy of nearly 600 ships. Over the same time span in the Clinton years, the Navy deployed out of the routine 12 1/4 times per year with a fleet that has been slashed to only 318 ships. This has not only destroyed morale, retention and family life, but it also has exposed a less-ready, thinned-out fleet to many more hazardous duty stations.

As the Navy learned at Okinawa, where 35 ships were sunk by kamikazes, it is impossible to protect completely against suicide attacks. The only defense is good intelligence and the will to retaliate against the source. The American government has neither.

The writer was secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 14, 2000


Yemen has never been a friend of the US. Who ordered the Cole into Yemen to take on fuel? Make no mistake, this captain will lose his head over this but the real villians are Navy rumps that ordered this ship into Yemen.

-- David Williams (, October 15, 2000.


Bin Laden Warns Against U.S. Attack

by KATHY GANNON Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden on Tuesday warned the United States not to attack his home in Afghanistan, where fears have grown of a retaliatory strike to the Yemen ship bombing that killed 17 Americans.

In a statement published in Pakistan's largest circulation Urdu-language newspaper, The Jang, meaning War, bin Laden said an attack would not kill him and vowed to continue his battle against the ''enemies of Islam'' -- an apparent reference to the United States, Israel and the Saudi royal family. He made no direct reference to the Yemen attack.

The suicide bombing last week damaged a U.S. Navy vessel off the coast of Yemen. No credible claims for the attack on the USS Cole have emerged. But immediate suspicion fell on bin Laden and his organization, al Qaida, which the United States accuses of organizing a worldwide terrorist network.

Since the attack, officials in Afghanistan and newspapers in neighboring Pakistan have repeatedly warned of a possible U.S. retaliatory strike against Afghanistan.

Although there are no apparent signs Washington is planning a strike, Afghans remember August 1998, when the United States fired dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles on eastern Afghanistan in an attempt to kill bin Laden.

That assault was in retaliation for the bombings of two U.S. Embassies in East Africa that killed 224 people. Washington blamed bin Laden for the attacks and a U.S. grand jury has since indicted him.

Bin Laden has been living in Afghanistan since 1996, when he fled Sudan. The Taliban militia have refused to hand him over and on Monday denied he was responsible for the Yemen attack.

Bin Laden's statement -- his first since December 1998 when the Taliban supposedly shut down his communications --was apparently issued from Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, the headquarters of the country's ruling militia.

''The dream to kill me will never be completed,'' bin Laden was quoted as saying.

''I am not afraid of the American threats against me,'' he said. ''As long as I am alive there will be no rest for the enemies of Islam. I will continue my mission against them.''

The Taliban seemed concerned about a possible U.S. strike.

''After 20 years of war we want only to have an Islamic system for our people. We should not be the target of the United States,'' Taliban spokesman Qadratullah Jamal told The Associated Press on Monday. ''They should not have attacked us before and they should not attack us now.

''There is no reason for the United States to hurt the innocent people of Afghanistan,'' Jamal said in the capital, Kabul.

AP-NY-10-17-00 0734EDT< 

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 17, 2000.

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