The NY Times seems usually to be pitching from the left and backing up whatever the Democratic talking points are. But there was a big exception to that on Friday with the report from one of their top foreign correspondents that the
Obama administration deliberately downplayed al Qaeda’s strength in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.
During an event at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Rukmini Callimachi said that the overall narrative being pushed after Osama Bin Laden was killed and a huge trove of documents was found at his base was that he was isolated and had lost control of his group.
From The Weekly Standard:
“The head of the organization has been killed, and now—these are literally quotes that I would get: the organization has been ‘decimated,’ the organization is in ‘disarray,’ the organization is ‘on the run,’” she continued. “At the same time that we were preparing to pull out troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, I think that it was important to portray this as a problem that no longer existed.”
She also said Obama administration officials and others told her that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which had just taken over the northern half of Mali, “was actually not really connected to al Qaeda.”
“The narrative I would get is that . . . it had opportunistically taken the al Qaeda name in order to have prestige and scare people, and that in fact, those people were just criminals,” she said.
In 2013, after AQIM had been cleared out of the area, Callimachi began sorting through thousands of files that had been left in the city of Timbuktu. She discovered evidence that “central” al Qaeda commanders were actually “micromanag[ing]” the Malians who the Obama administration had said had no ties to al Qaeda.
“Suddenly, my worldview, which had been informed by officials . . . started to fall apart,” she said. “Suddenly, I was seeing that this group that I was told really had no ties, with no connection . . . was, in fact, being micromanaged by al Qaeda central.”
She said the documents recently released by the Trump administration revealed the reality and the falsehoods of the Obama administration, the real relationship between al Qaeda and its affiliates.
“In fact, the new trove that has now come out confirms very much what I was seeing in Mali, which is not just real connective tissue, but connective tissue to the point of [these affiliates] being micromanaged from Afghanistan and Pakistan,” she said. “Very minor personnel decisions are being decided by the group thousands of miles away.”
The newly released files, which panelists said represented the “digital life” of Osama bin Laden and his family, include bin Laden’s personal journal, video of his son, Hamza bin Laden, audio reports on al Qaeda in Iraq, and communications about the Pakistani Taliban.
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ terrorism expert Thomas Joscelyn, who has been pushing for release of the documents for years, said that the narrative pitched in 2012, that al Qaeda was ‘on the decline’ was “wrong, totally wrong” and was a “cherry-picked version of what’s going on.”
Dozier noted that the information wasn’t only kept from the public, it was also kept from U.S. intelligence agencies. “I was hearing from intelligence analysts from within the US government saying: ‘We can’t get our hands on these files.’ It’s strange,” said Dozier.
It was the same reason the administration lied about Benghazi.
If the information came out right before the election in 2012 it would have blown Obama’s carefully crafted narrative and so they made sure it wouldn’t.