The L. A. Times reports* that on April 10, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center issued an 18-page “joint special event assessment” warning that the finish line of the Boston Marathon was an “area of increased vulnerability” and that there might be “small scale bombings.”


*  “Intelligence report identified vulnerability before Boston bombing,” Brian Bennett and Richard A. Serrano

No Al Qaeda Evidence in Benghazi Attack

From “No Evidence found of Al Qaeda role in Libya attack,” Ken Dilanian and Shashank Bengali, L A Times:

The assault on the U. S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi last month appears to have been an opportunistic attack rather than a long-planned operation, and intelligence agencies have found no evidence that it was ordered by Al Qaeda, according to U. S. officials and witnesses interviewed in Libya.

“[A]fter five weeks of investigation, U. S. intelligence agencies say they have found no evidence of Al Qaeda participation.

“The attack was ‘carried out following a minimum amount of planning,’ said a U. S. intelligence official…. ‘The attackers exhibited a high degree of disorganization.  Some joined the attack in progress, some did not have weapons and others just seemed interested in looting.’

“A second U. S. official added, ‘There isn’t any intelligence that the attackers pre-planned their assault days or weeks in advance.’  Most of the evidence so far suggests that ‘the attackers launched their assault opportunistically after they learned about the violence at the U. S. Embassy in Cairo’ earlier that day, the official said.

“[I]n Benghazi, witnesses said members of the group that raided the U. S. mission specifically mentioned the video….

“They were extremely well armed, but Libya is awash in weapons.  In Benghazi, machine guns and shoulder-fired grenade launchers…are sold on the streets.

“Republicans began portraying the attack as the work of Al Qaeda, and they accused the administration of deliberately seeking to downplay that possibility.

“Now, however, said another official with access to the intelligence, ‘it may turn out that the initial assessment was not that far off.'” Emphasis added.

The Prez needs a coherent narrative on this for the foreign affairs debate Monday. 

Does Obama Envy Hollande?

When President Obama met with French President Francois Hollande, and Hollande stuck to his guns about withdrawing from Afghanistan at the end of this year, I wonder if at some point, Obama said, “I wish we could too.”  He had to at least been thinking it.

The Americans who give their lives or get wounded in Afghanistan between now and the end of 2014 are engaged in an exercise in futility.  The President knows this, and it has to eat at him.  The only worthwhile missions are drone strikes and special forces raids in places like Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia, wherever Al Qaeda is still active.

After 9/11, the GOP faulted Bill Clinton for dealing with terrorism as a law enforcement issue.  But we’ve gone too far in the other direction of treating it as a nation-building issue, requiring an enormous footprint.  The proper approach is to treat it as an intelligence/special ops issue.